Over the last few years, colourful murals have cropped up all over Kuala Lumpur, from Masjid Jamek to Bangsar, Pudu to PJ.
The entertainment district of Changkat Bukit Bintang was one of the earliest to start filling in unused walls with street art of various styles. Now, its latest offering comes courtesy of the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX), KL’s first master-planned financial district. The back alley selected, with walls painted sky blue on each side, strategically ends with a view of TRX’s signature tower. Soaring high into the ever-changing sky of Kuala Lumpur, Exchange 106 is a modern-day marvel, and the spot has been popular for Instagram photos ever since the skyscraper was completed.
“We wanted to build on how KL citizens were already interacting with the laneway,” says Maisara Ismail, TRX City Sdn Bhd’s Director, Strategic Marketing & Communications.
“This mural is a way for us to pay homage and contribute to the rejuvenation of the Nagasari area,” she adds, describing the theme of the mural as a reimagination from a child’s eye.
Completed in early October, the three-wall mural is the brainchild of street artist, Akid One, whose large works are featured on walls all over Malaysia and even in Australia and Dubai. The artist is known for vibrant and detailed work with a strong Malaysian feel.
In recognition of how Changkat Bukit Bintang has gone through many transformations through the years, this latest mural seeks to capture this dynamic transition from past to future, Reimagining Nagasari.
“We did research on the area, and it used to be a place where children could roam around and play freely,” says Akid.
In collaboration with TRX, the artist hit upon the idea of both harking back to the past, when the neighbourhood was like a giant ‘playground’ for kids, while also looking forward to what’s ahead, with the view of Exchange 106 in TRX, the home of Malaysia’s latest CBD.
“The work is somewhat futuristic, but it’s a future imagined by children,” Akid says.
“So, you don’t get jets or mechanical things. Instead, there’s a flying turtle with a houseboat on its back, a windmill-flower hybrid, patterns, stars and fishes done in a crayon effect, while the kids themselves are on a floating island,” adds the artist, who is originally from Kelantan.
Akid explains that the pièce de resistance is, of course, creating the optical illusion of the Exchange 106 building seamlessly blending into the far wall.
“We have indicated the exact spot for photographers to stand so they can get the perfect shot where the real-life tower perfectly matches the lower half that we have drawn on the wall,” he says, encouraging visitors to share and tag their efforts interacting with the mural.
The TRX mural was made possible through a strategic partnership with Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), which was already in the midst of upgrading the Nagasari neighbourhood to be a more attractive and safe area. Initiatives include landscaping for the Ain Arabia playground, the stunning block colours painted on the old buildings along Jalan Berangan, new lights along the main roads and back lanes as well as other murals in the works.
“DBKL is thrilled to work with TRX City Sdn Bhd and all the other partners so that together we can beautify the city of Kuala Lumpur,” says Mohd Khairul Naim bin Ibarahim, a civil engineer in DBKL’s Building Control Department.
“We look forward to further collaborations, and we hope that this project can be a model for the rejuvenation of previously dilapidated and dirty back lanes into beautiful areas that can attract visitors,” he adds.
Also, Jotun, a name that has been synonymous with preserving the beauty of iconic structures around the world for decades, was named as a preferred partner and supplied all the paints used in creating the whimsical mural.
Yousra Lemaamer, Marketing Manager of Jotun Malaysia & Singapore, was enthused about this exciting, new partnership: “Jotun is proud to be entrusted as a coating supplier to preserve the timeless appeal of Exchange 106. It is an absolute privilege to partner this iconic masterpiece that stands tall as the finest example of excellence and elegance in Malaysia.
“What makes this partnership even more meaningful is that it lets us collaborate closely to reimagine and rejuvenate the back alley of Jalan Nagasari. It is a unique opportunity to showcase the beauty of Exchange 106 and transform the neighbourhood with something spectacular to the eye.
“We are using our signature exterior paint - Jotashield Antifade Colour, to bring the street back to life with stunning interactive murals – and we are delighted."
A true community project, local businesses also pitched in to ensure the mural was a success. Halab Restaurant donated their wall for the focal point of the mural, where the real-life Exchange 106 tower seamlessly meets the painted version and offered food discounts for Akid and his assistants. Nearby, The Mesui Hotel provided accommodation to the artistic team for the duration of the project.