Graffiti in Singapore. Picture clicked on 02 March 2013

Graffiti in Singapore. Picture clicked on 02 March 2013


We stumbled upon a not-so-obvious lane in Singapore that was brimming with graffiti… wall after wall of fascinating art. And yet, the longer I looked at the artworks, I felt uneasy. This wasn’t spontaneous outpouring of emotions… there was something too cosmetic about it.

Look at this picture… you find an almost deliberate attempt to portray a convergence of cultures here on just this one section of that massive load of graffiti there. Even the sprays that desperately wanted to look like they were the output of a restless heart tended to be too tame. And there was absolutely no vandalism woven through these examples of wall art in Singapore.

I’ve been to Sydney and photographed their graffiti extensively… even London has energetic bytes of wall art popping up in unexpected places. But in Singapore it felt as if artists were hired and given day permits to come and paint a ‘bindaas’ picture on a designated wall… ‘and no, you won’t be prosecuted for this misdemeanour,’ some official must surely have told them with a sarkari smile with its right twitch.

This place is right next to where the Peranakan Museum is… and not many tourists reach here. Most of them remain happily clicking the Merlion or some of the other landmarks, if they aren’t spending time on Orchard Street or Sentosa Island. But then you come across such revelations if you’re the sort who is out there walking, talking, and doggedly stalking less known facets of a city or country. Do this and you’ll enjoy your trips more.



Arvind Passey
12 September 2013