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    Lukisan mural ikonik seniman Ernest Zacharevic, 'Children On Bicycle'. (Gambar: Penang Global Tourism)

Pelukis mural popular Pulau Pinang kecewa kawasan warisan kini ibarat 'sarkas'

SINGAPURA: Seniman warga Lithuania, Ernest Zacharevic - yang melukis karya muralnya pada tembok-tembok menghiasi bandar George Town di Pulau Pinang meratapi peranannya dalam gentrifikasi kawasan warisan tersebut.

Karya-karya lukisannya sudah menjadi daya tarikan popular di Pulau Pinang namun beliau pernah mempertimbangkan untuk mengecat semula karya-karya seninya "untuk mengakhiri sarkas tersebut".

Zacharevic melukis gambar Kanak-kanak Atas Basikal yang ikonik di sepanjang Armenia Street dan satu lagi siri mural lain sebagai sebahagian daripada Festival George Town pada 2012. Karyanya seringkali menarik minat ramai pengunjung yang ingin memetik gambar.

Dalam satu catatan di laman Instagram pada Selasa (2 Jul), pelukis itu berkata beliau sendiri dan ramai yang lain menyalahkan karya-karyanya sebagai punca jalan warisan itu menjadi pusat daya tarikan pelancong di Pulau Pinang.

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The fading kids on bike are still there, the people are still linning up for pictures, but today is not a regular day at Armenian Street. The steet has not been the same as it used to when I first moved there, quiet heritage street with few local residents offering antiques or 6RM haircut on a ground floor of their family home has been replace with souvenir shops, restaurants, and all kind of insta friendly quickly consumable concept stores to satisfy ever increasing traffic of holiday goers looking for 'authentic penang experiance'. One of those had been torn to ground this morning, just weeks since its grand opening. Not exactly sure of reasons but local goss says they had no proper building permits for such a construction and did not cooperate with council to address that. As much as I feel for the business owners who put their money and effort to open this shop I can't hide the joy of seeing council actually acting on its promises and enforcing the regulations that they established. It looks brutal but I don't think there is a polite way of demolishing a building. This part of Georgetown is a unesco haritage, and it has been threatened with the removal from unesco list due to failure to protect its culture, architecture and the community. Myself and many others blame my work for Armenian Street being a center of tourist route in Penang and honestly I've been contemplating of simply painting over it in hopes to put an end to that circus. But I think the time where it would make any difference has passed. You can barely see the artwork anymore but people are still lining up there. And if not kids on bicycle people will line up for something else. End of the day art does not issue construction permits, sell entire row of heritage houses to foreign investors, give out business licenses, docking permits to cruise boats or opens new flight routes. It's something to be strickly regulated especially in culturaly fragile places like Georgetown. We can only hope that what happen today will make business owners think twice before thay open another bubble tea shop or 3d art museum in this town. #penang #georgetown #gentrificationsucks

A post shared by Ernest Zacharevic (@ernestzacharevic) on


Beliau berpendapat bahawa Armenian Street tidak lagi sama seperti keadaannya bila beliau mula-mula berpindah ke tempat itu dahulu, ketika ia hanya "jalan warisan yang sepi" dengan beberapa penduduk setempat menawarkan barang-barangan antik dan potongan rambut berpatutan dari "lantai bawah rumah milik keluarga mereka".

Beliau juga menarik perhatian bahawa kini tempat itu dibanjiri kedai-kedai cenderamata dan segala macam gerai mesra Instagram bagi para pelancong yang dambakan "pengalaman autentik/asli Pulau Pinang".

Meskipun pernah terfikir untuk menghilangkan lukisan-lukisannya, Zacharevic menambah bahawa masa untuk tindakan sedemikan membawa satu perubahan sudahpun berlalu pergi.

"Anda hampir tidak boleh melihat karya seni itu lagi tetapi orang masih beratur di sana. Dan jika bukan kanak-kanak di atas basikal, orang akan beratur untuk perkara lain. "

Seniman itu juga menyuarakan kebimbangan George Town mungkin kehilangan status Tapak Warisan Dunia UNESCO yang diraihnya pada 2008 andai ia gagal untuk "melindungi budaya, seni bina dan masyarakatnya".

Lantaran itu, beliau berharap peraturan lebih ketat akan dikuatkuasakan untuk memastikan tempat-tempat yang "budayanya mudah terhakis" dapat bertahan. 

- CNA/FZ/fz

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