Rangoon Officials Unimpressed With Obama Graffiti

By Yen Saning 14 November 2014

RANGOON — The Rangoon-based graffiti artist who famously sprayed a portrait of US President Barack Obama on a roadside wall to mark his first visit to the country, has sprayed a second portrait of the president.

In 2012, authorities guarded the portrait to prevent the US president’s visage from being defaced. This time, however, the graffiti was promptly covered with a green tarpaulin by Bahan Township officials only hours after it was finished.

Arkar Kyaw sprayed the latest portrait of Obama to mark the president’s visit to Rangoon on Friday. The graffiti reads “Welcome To Our City Yangon. Btw, R U SURE?”

The portrait was sprayed in the exact location of his previous portrait in 2012.

“I would like to ask everybody including Mr. Obama that whatever the outcome of their talks, that they are sure,” Arkar Kyaw told The Irrawaddy.

“Everybody, including my parents, asked me to do something [to mark Obama’s visit] so I suddenly decided to do it.”

In December 2012, the Yangon City Development Committee imposed a ban on spray-painting walls in public places of the former capital.

When asked how he felt about his art being covered, Arkar Kyaw said, “I expected that a few hours after I was finished, they would wipe it out.”

It took an hour for him to finish the portrait of the US president, who has been in Burma since Wednesday to attend meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the East Asia Summit.

When The Irrawaddy visited the site of the portrait on Friday, the graffiti remained covered while other graffiti nearby had also been whitewashed.