Who would have thought street art, or also known as the “graffiti” which is a new artistic medium most popular on public walls, can make it to prestigious galleries?

What’s for sure, PETRONAS made it possible.

Together with 14 talented local street artists, PETRONAS brought to life an old poem by our national Nobel Laureate, Usman Awang entitled “Tanah Air” by combining the “old” and the “new”.

From the poem, these 14 local graffiti maestros created art on building around Kuala Lumpur using their own interpretations of the literature.

These works of art where then celebrated with an exclusive exhibition at Galeri PETRONAS, with a detailed explanation of each masterpiece together with the process the artist had to go through to complete the final product.

Tourism and Culture Minister, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz launched the exhibition and expressed his pride to see such a great pool of talents in Malaysia.

Nazri also commended the cooperation between the government and private companies such as PETRONAS, as it provided an avenue to strengthen and enhance the country’s level of appreciation for art.

“It is also in line with the Ministry’s efforts in promoting Malaysia as a world-class tourist destination, building on an identity based on our art, culture and national heritage.”

Also present at the launch was PETRONAS Chairman, Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan who said the company was glad to provide an avenue for fans and enthusiasts of urban art, or “street art”.

“Public art is a good way for younger generation to express themselves in the city and PETRONAS, being an entity that creates possibilities, have given young artists a canvas in the heart of Kuala Lumpur to express their support for social cohesion and experience the new understanding of patriotism through street art,” he added.

PETRONAS’ #tanahairku Street Art Exhibition, which is currently on display at Galeri PETRONAS until January 4, 2015, showcases six pieces by 14 local street artists.

The actual masterpieces are currently on display at these locations:

1. “We Are All on the Same Boat” – Jalan Yap Ah Shak open car park (Artists: The District Creative)
2. “Brave” – Jalan Raja Chulan opposite Muzium Telekom (Artists: Anokayer and Yumz)
3. “The Village and the City” – Jalan Raja Chulan open car park (Artists: Kenji and Cloak)
4. “Smile” – Jalan Sultan Ismail near Sultan Ismail LRT station (Artists:Escape and Perol)
5. “The Malaysian Model Heart Kit” – Leboh Ampang open car park (Artists: Kangblabla and Reeze)
6. “Makmur, Teguh, Luhur” – Jalan Tan Siew Sin (Artists: Phiberwryte Connection/PWC)

Of the six locations, the piece by Kenji and Cloak on Jalan Raja Chulan has been certified as the biggest mural on a building by the Malaysia Book of Records.

The exhibition also marks the finale of PETRONAS’ #tanahairku 2014 project, which kicked off early this year with a TV commercial (TVC) and web filmed titled “A Walk Through Time”.

This was followed by a nationwide showcase of “Love Letters to Malaysia” – a showcase of PETRONAS’ 18 selected TVCs, as early as in the mid 90s that carry special messages on unity, solidarity and harmony for all Malaysians.

At the same event, 19 traditional performing arts activists in Malaysia received the PETRONAS’ Art and Cultural Grant worth a total of RM3 million.