Mon, Feb 09, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Painters revive borough

By Wu Chun-feng  /  Staff reporter

People look at murals on a house in the Shilin Borough of Tainan’s Danei District on Jan. 24.

Photo: Wu Chun-feng, Taipei Times

Since Tainan’s Shilin Borough (石林) gained overnight fame less than five months ago, when it was discovered that an unknown artist had painted a mural depicting the famous Totoro Bus Stop scene in Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro, Kevin, the painter, and his wife, Eva — who did not give their surname — have transformed the neighborhood into a tourist attraction.

Thanks to the couple, who have painted famous cartoon characters faithful to the originals on more than 20 walls, the Danei District (大內) neighborhood now draws at least 1,000 tourists every weekend.

Asked how they were inspired, Kevin said it was accidental.

He said that at first, he and Eva painted cartoons of pandas to amuse local children on the wall in front of the house where his wife and mother-in-law live.

Aiming to make the buildings in the neighborhood look more consistent, Kevin and Eva embarked on more pieces, including portraits of Bambi, Popeye and Mr Bean.

Classically trained in art, Kevin’s painting techniques impressed many residents, who offered to let him paint on the walls of their buildings.

After some promotion on Facebook, visitors flocked to the borough to see the paintings, giving Shihlin Borough unexpected fame.

A resident surnamed Chen (陳) said that at least 1,000 people visit the village on Saturdays and Sundays, adding that: “I have never seen this place so busy before.”

However, some netizens have criticized the murals as “infringing on the copyrights of the originals,” plagiarism and being “at odds with local culture and scenery.”

Others expressed solidarity with the pair, saying they created the paintings out of a hope to inject new life into the neighborhood.

Shihlin Borough Warden Yang Hsiang-hsou (楊想壽) supports the paintings, saying that they have revitalized the community.

“Young people return home more frequently thanks to these paintings, many of them bringing their friends here. The elders are brimming with joy that they get to see their children more often. That is all that matters,” he said.

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