THE NEW SUNDAY EXPRESS VOICES PUSHPESH PANT G PARTHASARATHY ANAND NEELAKANTAN RAVI SHANKAR ANUJA CHANDRAMOULI SADHGURU JAGGI VASUDEVI BUFFET PEOPLE WELLNESS BOOKS FOOD ART & CULTURE ENTERTAINMENT JANUARY 13 2019 SUNDAY PAGES 12 A Painting the By KAUSHANI BANERJEE corner of the bridge, a dilapidated wall next to that hipster café, railway and metro stations, deserted government buildings— these unremarkable bits of city architectures are being turned into jaw-dropping works of art at a rapid pace. Cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Kochi, Bengaluru, Goa, Coimbatore and Hyderabad are hosting events and festivals where both Indian and international artists are picking up the easel and painting public places in bright hues. What could have been labelled as an act of vandalism in the past has turned into colourful cultural landmarks. Art as an accessible form of expression is found in different forms on the streets every day contributing to a , pan-India city beautification narrative. The pioneers of this ‘public art renaissance’ are individual street artists, nonprofits and art groups who have been working with government bodies and corporates to alter the face of our insipid urban spaces. Town Ready PRANAV GOHIL A new cult of artists are taking street art to the next level by transforming buildings, walls and bridges across India’s cities into stunning pieces of visual craftsmanship Mumbai national Along with the e commercial capital, th emerged capital has also r at the centre fo and alternative art as Suburbs such culture. kopar at Mahim, Khar, Gh seen a d Bandra have an is art form surge in th d from groups an th in dual artists, bo indivi tivity and terms of crea t. social upliftmen Coimbatore In 2014, an organisation called St+art India Foundation put together what was dubbed as the first street art festival of India in Delhi. Its members— Hanif Kureshi, Akshat Nauriyal, Arjun Bahl, Thanish Thomas and Giulia Ambrogi— have now gone ahead to host several such festivals to make art accessible to the public and aid emerging artists. “St+art was born out of a collective exhaustion from gallery spaces in general and the realisation of the immense potential in making art public,” says Nauriyal, adding, “We all got in touch around the time of the The city police ’s office commissioner zur Road, building, Hu are all Jawan's Bhavan affiti art. A adorned with gr l furthered recent art trai strict library, covered the di India Road and State Bank of ad. Arts College Ro ‘Extension Khirkee’ street art festival and our first project came about in Shahpur Jat.” From festivals in cities such as Kolkata, Chandigarh and Coimbatore to creating designated art districts in Mahim (Mumbai), Maqtha with American artist Axel Void painting a kitchen knife, fruit and vegetables illuminated by a white candle and the word Zindagi; Lodhi Colony with a gigantic Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi by artist Lady Aiko; and Connaught Place walls with a collage of voters’ hands and a gargantuan middle finger by artist Daku. Now the organisation has turned into one of the biggest street art groups that often collaborates with international artists. In 2018, St+art brought Emmanuel Jarus from Canada to compose a work in Mumbai and French artist Chifumi to Kolkata, while this year they’ve collaborated with Fintan Magee of Australia in Panjim and Miles Toland of the US in Mumbai. Another organisation that has been working in the capital is Delhi Street Art (DSA). Its founder Yogesh Saini after living 20 years in the US started the outfit in a bid to adjust to his life in Delhi. “We started in 2011 and since then there’s been no looking back. From the Hanuman Mandir flyover to Lodhi Gardens to Metro stations, we have been beautifying areas all over the city We . are less about individual artists and more about collective work,” says Saini, who is currently in the process of painting spaces in Prayagraj (Allahabad). DSA has been instrumental in painting murals across Lucknow as well. Historically, street art always existed in the form of graffiti on walls. While there is no distinction between the two, graffiti has been always associated with vandalism. What was earlier a tool of the oppressed to communicate their stories and mark territories has evolved into art today India is . no stranger to graffiti culture. But the movement taking over our streets now is not just to reclaim public spaces and spread social messages but also to beautify cities. Mumbai, for example, has been using street art to rejig underdeveloped areas of Dharavi (Asia’s biggest slum) and other economically backward sections. Similar to Delhi’s Lodhi Colony, Mahim (east) has emerged as Mumbai’s art district. One of the other active groups to develop street art in Mumbai is Chal Rang De. Founded by Dedeepya Reddy, the NGO has been working in areas such as Khar, Asalpha Village and Sakinaka with Bollywood caricatures and colouring walls. Sumitro Sircar of Chal Rang De says, “We’ve revamped Asalpha village into an outdoor art gallery ‘Mogam. bo Na Khush Hua’ was an arty tribute to the officials of Sakinaka Police Station. The Mumbai Police approached us YOGESH SAINI Delhi From Lodhi Co lony, Hauz Khas Village, Sh ahpur Jat, Agrasen ki Baol i, Shankar Market, Connau ght Place, Khirki Extensio n to Arjan Garh Metro St ation—most nook and corn ers of the capital have be en taken over by stencils, mur als and splashes of co lour that establish the ci ty as the centre of all fo rms of street art exce llence. AKSHAT NAUR IYA L (Hyderabad) and Lodhi Colony (Delhi), the St+art team has been pivotal in reimagining public spaces. The St+art introduced an iconic mural in the capital—a giant image of Gandhi, painted on the the Delhi Police Headquarters building. It was created by German street artist ECB (aka Hendrik Beikirch) and local artist Anpu Varkey . They went on to change the face of Azadpur Mandi in the city Prayagraj Ahead of the Ku mbh Mela that will be he ld between January 15 and March 4, the fair organisers have commissioned Delhi Street Art to transfor m the city with murals of stalw arts such as Madan Mohan Malviya, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Harivansh Rai Bachchan. to help break the stereotypes that the police are associated with and we created a mural out of it. Then at the 2018 Mumbai Metro Festival, we painted a 4,000 sq ft wall with 3,000 participants. The wall art is at the DN Nagar Metro Station, Andheri West.” One of the reasons that street art has had such an impact is the rise of the internet. While elusive English artist Banksy has been making marks globally with his witty art, India is not far behind. Daku, Dizy (real name Kajal Singh), Yantr, Guesswho are among a few known internationally . “India is keeping in line with the world. In fact, the good thing about the street art culture in India is that unlike other countries we have skipped the vandalism part and moved on straight to good art,” explains Saini. It’s important to note that defacing a public wall or space is still illegal under the West Bengal Act, which began in Kolkata to ban political graffiti. But it is rare these days that street art is created without permission. Permissions are taken from local residents, municipalities and government authorities, before begging work in any area. A lot of the works are in fact commissioned by government and corporate bodies making the process easier for the artists. “In India, it’s always been a combination of both street art and government-commissioned murals. We Turn to page 2
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