Young, eminent and widely travelled, Lithuanian-born artist Ernest Zacharevic has left his mark in myriad cities throughout the globe. When a pit stop in Penang turned into a four-year stint, Zacharevic’s interactive and engaging murals breathed new life into George Town.
What drew you to Malaysia?
When I was studying in London, I would travel every chance I had. I spent some time in Southeast Asia and visited Malaysia. I quite liked it. In college, I became good friends with someone from Penang. One Chinese New Year, I stopped by to see her and to hang out for a bit. Before I knew it, four years had gone by.
‘Penang is a great place for art, because you have all these hungry people waiting for opportunities
Since you mentioned London… You’ve often been compared to a fellow Englishman, namely Banksy. But while he enjoys a certain degree of anonymity, everyone knows who you are. Doesn’t that make you a little antsy?
It does a little, but it’s the nature of my work. I don’t see the need to be anonymous. I like the social aspect of art, of being engaged and involved. Personally, it’s not only artwork that draws me and encourages me; it’s connecting and meeting people and trying new things and exploring outside my own box. Besides, it’s very hard to stay anonymous given the way that I work. Sometimes, I try to limit my exposure, but my work takes time to build and I can spend up to a week in one spot. All you can do is to go straight ahead, talk to people and be open about it. What Banksy does is anti-establishment. I talk to people, the police and authorities. It serves another cause not being anonymous, not being afraid to say ‘This is what I do, so sue me.’
Read the rest of the interview on Time Out Penang.