painting the streets of india
This is my latest article and it’s about what I love about streets in India… The emergence and growth Modern Graffiti – calling it that because the argument is Indians have always decorated walls, and I agree. This is more about street art that is either edgy, abstract or murals — far from our regular “mango” and other ethnic designs. Not to look down on Indian designs but I do love our painted streets. And they both can co-exist beautifully!
Planning to do one piece on all the art in the new Mumbai Metro, coming up soon! And an interview with two artists that I really admire – Anpu Varkey and Ranjit Dahiya. Till then read my article up at the alternative and do tell me what you think. It’s the ‘lengthiest’ piece I have ever written and more commentary than photo-blog, so a first for me!
A few extracts to make you curious! :)
Around 5 years ago, the walls in our cities were covered only with random posters, paan stains, and trails of urine. But that’s changed. Today, you will see art squashed between posters, stains and hawkers; fighting for their space in the sunshine. This modern art form, if I can call it that, stands on the razor’s edge — to one side it is vandalism and to the other it’s about art, conversation, and dialogue.
But India it’s different. And here both sides co-exist — rather harmoniously! Some artists work with government organisations. For example, the Delhi Police have a huge wall of graffiti at one of the offices. City Municipalities are reaching out to artists to beautify the roads and pass on social messages. At the same time, artists who wish to bomb or hit a space, or leave behind a personal opinion tend to work undercover. Why? Defacing a public wall or space is still illegal under the West Bengal Act, which began in Kolkata to ban political graffiti. If you get caught defacing a public wall, you need to pay a fine of Rs. 1,000 or serve six months in jail or both.
When Anpu was working on a large mural in Pune, an auto-rickshaw driver came up to her and said, “I never looked at that wall before but now you’ve given me a reason to look at it. Can I buy you some tea?”
Yantr says, “You walk by a street and see this mural on the wall — it affects you. Whether you like it or not, understand it or not, or even if you care or don’t, you see it. You have a myriad of people from every walk of life being exposed to your work, your idea, your voice. It is such a powerful tool to induce conversations.”
Go on, click that link and read the piece. www.thealternative.in/society/the-emerging-wallflowers-of-street-art-in-india/