IS graffiti an art form or vandalism? To some graffiti is definitely an art form and should be celebrated, while its detractors call it a form of vandalism.
Lately, in Johor Baru, several places, especially in tunnels, abandoned building, public places and road dividers, have been "decorated" with graffiti.
Some graffiti, in my opinion, are works of art.
There is a story in the sequence of the pieces sprayed on the walls. Some are positive and the colours are attractive.
It does justice to a wall which was was dirty and dull.
But there are also walls in Johor Baru covered with vulgarities. Besides being an eyesore, they are also an insult to art.
Some street graffiti artists (who normally wish to remain anonymous for fear of prosecution by the authorities) say they are sending out a message that art should not be confined to the regular medium such as canvass and paper.
A few graffiti artists I have had the privilege to meet said they do not condone vulgarities.
They also refrained from using religion or politics in their art, saying things like that should not be forced on anyone and there is no age limit to those who appreciate art, thus vulgarity should be avoided.
I enjoy and appreciate art a lot. For my taste, I favour abstract oil paintings but of late, seeing a new generation of artists and their work on an open platform has piqued my interest.
Graffiti has been described as a form of writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surfaces in a public place.
Graffiti ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings, and has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to ancient Greece and the Roman empire.
In Johor Baru, most of the graffiti artists use spray paint.
The artists remain anonymous because any markings or paintings on public or privately owned properties done without consent is considered defacement and vandalism, which is a punishable by law.
Some claim that those who indulge in graffiti are creative but lack attention, and this is the best way to express their emotions, and gain attention. Their graffiti is their voice in society.
Should graffiti artists be punished or should steps be taken to harness their talents?
Now, with the government using all types of platforms to reach the masses, especially the younger generation, can graffiti also be considered a platform to express their social and political messages?
As controversies about graffiti continue, it is rapidly developing into an art form with its different styles.
After taking a stroll in Jalan Seri Purnama at Kampung Seri Purnama, Johor Baru, which is right behind the Pandan Wholesale Market, I am convinced that graffiti is a form of art, but I also realise its value will be highly debated.
Maybe graffiti art will one day find its value like the prehistoric cave paintings.