Walls Of Fame: Street Art Makes Little India Even More Awesome
STORY: Ng Kai
21 April 2021
"Walls Of Fame" is a series on Wonderwall.sg that throws the spotlight on murals all around our LIttle Red Dot that bring our neighbourhoods to life, and the stories behind the art and the artist(s).
ICYMI, we kicked off the series with a focus on the works of probably the most prolific muralist in Singapore, Yip Yew Chong - in particular, the murals in Chinatown.
In this edition, we take you on a trip through Little India, where the multicoloured murals are only matched by the vibrancy of the area's culture.
"Working Class Hero"
This mural titled “Working Class Hero” is by one of the street art pioneers in Singapore, Mohammed Zulkarnean Bin Othman aka Zero. It is popular among residents and visitors who frequent Little India as it is a portrait of the famous Tamil film star, Rajinikanth.
Zero conceptualised this mural with the purpose of painting it as a tribute to the migrant workers living in the district. It’s also the biggest painting he’s ever done – this artist sibei ups because he only took 24 hours to complete instead of the original two weeks that was planned.
The 42-year-old was the first street artist in Singapore to be awarded the NAC Young Artist Award in 2013 (he was 34 then) for artistic excellence and his role in setting up the foundation for the street art scene in Singapore.
Located at: 11 Hindoo Rd, Singapore 209110 (map)
Meet Sufian Hamri aka TraseOne or TR853-1. "Alive" portrays a traditional dancer in Little India and is easily spotted due to its location at Clive Street, one of Little India’s busiest roads.
The artwork pops with a plethora of colours and definitely succeeds in capturing the vibrancy of Little India. Another pioneer of the local street art scene, the 40-year-old is part of the same street collective (RSCLS, pronounced "rascals") as Zero.
Since 1999, he has elevated his art from and blossomed from being a self-taught graffiti artist scrawling his name on the streets to having his work exhibited in numerous commissioned projects and exhibitions both on the local and global platform, and winning numerous awards for his perpetually evolving style.
TraseOne was also granted the inaugural Goh Chok Tong Youth Promise Award in 2005 to expand his knowledge in art, and graduated with an Honour’s Degree in 2007.
Located at: On Clive St on the side of the building at 106 Dunlop St, Singapore 209423 (map)
The source of Didier "Jaba" Mathieu's inspiration for this mural: Kathak, a type of ancient classical Indian dance. The 46-year-old Colombian artist based in Singapore also incorporates a wide array of colours to depict the vibrancy and movements of this dance.
Intellectual and cheem, Jaba’s complex and highly refined style is a mix of cubism, futurism and constructivism – where planes, angles and colours all get thrown into the mix.
He draws inspiration from his travels and experience as a concept artist for Lucasfilm Ltd and as a lecturer for Matte Painting, Environment & Character Design at Nanyang Polytechnic.
Jaba continues to practice on multidisciplinary levels and recently graduated as an MA Fine Arts student at LASALLE College of the Arts.
Located at: Upper Dickson Rd, on the Serangoon Rd side (map)
"Traditional Trades of Little India"
This is a mural woven together by local artist Psyfool. It tells a tale of the various traditional trades found in Little India. Try to spot some! Hint: a parrot astrologer who used parrots to pick fortunes, a flower garland vendor who made fragrant flower chains, a dhobi (washerman), a milk delivery man, a kacang putih seller. Fun fact: Dhoby Ghaut was named after the dhobis – washermen and women.
Located at: 8 Belilios Lane, Singapore 219955 (map)
"Madan Mogra: Jasmine of the City"
Interdisciplinary artist Nadiah Alsagoff's mural, commissioned by the Singapore Tourism Board in 2017, is an allegory of migrant workers as individuals and how their lives are affected by the circumstances of their birth.
The 30-year-old artist chose the jasmine flower ("Madan Mogra" is another name for it) as it symbolises the workers' growth, longing and determination for the families they sacrifice so much for.
The mural pays tribute to the migrant workers who have contributed to the construction and growth of various districts in Singapore, and the alley where it is located is also popular with workers taking a short break from their labour.
Located at: 27 Chander Rd, Singapore 219536 (map)