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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kota Kinabalu Street Graffiti



A few hours before we boarded the plane back to Clark in Pampanga, we took a final walk along the streets of Kota Kinabalu and came across this remnants of an old building, that was covered with eye popping graffiti. To say that it was Andy Warhol-isque is a bit of an understatement. I am always fascinated with street arts, especially graffiti which if done with fine taste, would always present a welcome appeasement to the eyes.

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It is also a good way of expressing one's un-conveyed expression. Being able to draw has always been my never ending frustration, aside from stick figures and egg-shaped round objects, there's nothing else I could draw on blank papers and bland white walls. I remember back in college me and my best friend Jacobsladder would took to vandalism to express our madness. We would write down lyrics of songs from premier punk bands of the 70's and juxtaposed it with our own poetry wannabe compositions. 

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The said building pictured here is the old Land and Survey building which was later named as Welfare Department Office under the Department of Social Welfare and dates back to the British administrative years. The building got burned down in the early-90's and was reduce to its current state of rubble and now lies untouched and undeveloped for more than 20 years just behind the towering HSBC establishment.

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Soon, a number of Sabahan artists gifted with a steady hand and a superb imagery imagination painted the remaining walls and flooring of the damaged building and the result was an enigma of a mixture of black and white, to colored graffiti that are worthy of being shown in a gallery exhibit. Even in a state of ruin and neglect, the site has transformed itself into a canvass where individuals with artistic freedom and creativity could sketch, paint and write down their emotions through a form of art they furiously excel and madly passionate about.


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Here in Metro Manila we got the often maligned "MMDA Art" which was implemented by the former chief of the agency known for its corny art taste and absurd color scheme combination of light blue and pink. It was a good start though, for some youths who got time on their hand to instead channel their frustrations, through meaningful art and move that hands of theirs up and down, left and right, creating shades of gray, black and shadows, spray painting and transforming these walls around our city into their own canvass.

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I'd rather see this form of art gather traction and become popular and would choose its artistic effect over those scrawling done by leftist militants on the columns of the LRT and the MRT, which if you ask me are nothing but over-used doldrums of "bring down the USA puppet regime" etc etc. Who knows maybe the next Warhol is just around the bend, itching to spray paint an un-used wall and let art flow along like spoken words and melodic harmony and hymns.

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I remember this old man I saw in Monumento once, he likes to scribble phrases that ends up with "Wins", for example "Erap Wins" and so on. You can see traces of his handiwork all over the city of Manila. He might still be alive or might have gone into the after-life, but his art, even as those simple and seemingly meaningless "Wins" words he wrote down, a message of attainable victory lingers on as a possible occurrence in our everyday living.

What more, the effect could it be, if the said old man has the ability to also draw abstract yet powerful images on our city walls. "If these walls could talk" it does not, but give them the opportunity to convey an expression through graffiti, it will tell a thousand words.


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