World Bicycle Day: how pedal power has been celebrated through art in Malaysia


Clockwise from top left: Lat's artwork for 'Town Boy', Hings Lim showcasing his 'bicycle art' and 'Trishaw Stand', a batik work by Ismail Mat Hussin. Photos: Filepics

World Bicycle Day might be a relatively new addition to the International Days family, but it calls attention to something familiar, useful and accessible to many people around the world.

For many children, learning to ride a bike is an exciting rite of passage.

The humble bicycle is a simple and affordable means of transport. It connects people and services. It is dependable, versatile and contributes to cleaner air and less congestion.

The United Nations General Assembly declared June 3 as International World Bicycle Day in 2018.

As we celebrate World Bicycle Day today, we take a quick look at a few local artworks of bicycles, captured and explored in a variety of artistic styles through the years.

Photo: Datuk LatPhoto: Datuk Lat

Town Boy (1980) by Datuk Lat

With schools nationwide shut and cycling not allowed during the current movement control order, this carefree image of Mat and Frankie on the cover of the comic book Town Boy, roaming through the streets of Ipoh in the 1960s, is definitely something to lift the pandemic gloom. The good ol' black bicycle served as these school boy buddies' prime mode of transport, either to go get ice cream dessert downtown or to listen to rock 'n' roll records at Frankie's home. In all, you can always count on cartoonist Datuk Lat to put a smile on your face.

Photo: Lim Beng Tatt/The StarPhoto: Lim Beng Tatt/The Star

'Little Children On A Bicycle' by Ernest Zacharevic

Walk the streets of Penang, and you can’t help but come across Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic’s street art and murals. This mural of two children on a bicycle, painted on the wall of a shophouse on Armenian Street, was commissioned for the 2012 George Town Festival. It has become an iconic image when you mention tourism in Penang, which we all hope will be back to normal once the pandemic situation allows for interstate travel.

Photo: Filepic Photo: Filepic

'Trishaw' by Datuk Chuah Thean Teng

During WWII, the late Datuk Chuah Thean Teng burnt all his works that contained anti-Japanese sentiments.Trishaw, depicting an everyday Malaysian scene, is one of the pioneer artist's works that made it through those turbulent times. The abstract nature of the work also makes it an intriguing study of the "Father of Batik" career during the pre-war years.

Photo: Filepic Photo: Filepic

'Jalan Hang Lekiu, Kuala Lumpur, 160626' (6 Painters; 3 Wheels) by Hings Lim

For Reciprocity, his first solo exhibition in Kuala Lumpur in 2016, Hings Lim showed a series of works that were created in collaboration with curious bystanders who took up his offer to create art with bicycle wheels dipped in paint. This work, which is accompanied by a video, is one of the more contemporary approaches as to how "art, bicycles and the migrant community" can fall under the same conversation.

Photo: Filepic Photo: Filepic

'Of Interesting Looking Seats And Other Parts Of Bicycles Belonging To Penang Port Labourers' by Ismail Hashim

The late artist-photographer Ismail Hashim is well-known for his hand-tinted prints of a wide variety of subjects, from the everyday mundane to random objects that catch his eye. In this work, the intrepid Ismail captures Penang's working class community, who had to "saddle up" and rely on the bicycle to make a living at the port. The Penang port is the oldest and longest established port in Malaysia.

Photo: Filepic Photo: Filepic

'Trishaw Stand' by Ismail Mat Hussin

The late Kelantanese artist was known for incorporating batik techniques into his art. This artwork of a trishaw is one of his many works showcasing life in the East Coast, probably in the 1950s or 60s, where pedal power was the only means to get from A to Z.

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world bicycle day , bicycle , art , malaysia

   

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