Walk down any lane in the Hauz Khas Village or Lodhi colony and you shall be bombarded with vividly colored walls, creating illusions and shattering stereotypes everywhere!
Welcome to the dawn of Street Art in India!
Artez | St.ART Delhi 2014 | P.C. Akshat Nauriyal
Allover the country, Street art is being used to gentrify (i.e to renovate or improve) the city’s streets! It is seen as a gentrified form of graffiti.
Graffiti is often related to vandalism and egoism as its ‘tags’ are expressions of self! Moreover, as per Lois Stavsky, a curator of street art in New York, Street art draws its inspiration from graffiti itself. In most places, Graffiti is illegal, but it gets its bad-ass edge precisely due to this risk.
Street art, however, is done by artists who are either commissioned or at-least carry permission.
Back in the beginning, graffiti was the first form of art, with the stone paintings and wall inscriptions. Later, it stood, tall and loud, for rebellion and protest, against the order of the capitalist society!
It was a message, an expression of discontent splashed across a public wall!
The modern graffiti today has evolved from bold and fearless, in-your-face rebellion to public art or street art.
For all those who are not familiar with the distinction between the two, graffiti writing is stylized writing with personal branding and street art is simply art created in public spaces. Both include freehand and stencil graffiti to sticker art and street installations.
The art of graffiti writing and street art reached India quite late. But it has caught on quickly. The major reason lies in the fact that most people are more than willing to get their walls ‘decorated’.
Artists like Ranjit Dahiya, Yantr, Anpu Varkey, GuessWho, Nanjundaswamy, Samir Parker and Leena Kejriwal have cropped up allover India with their own individual styles and brands.
While Ranjit is inspired by hand-painted movie posters and Bollywood, Yantr plays with mechanical and mythological elements. Anpu is known for her cat-themed murals and co-creating the 158-feet-high Mahatma Gandhi mural at the Delhi Police Headquarters with German graffiti artist Hendrik Beikirch.
Guesswho, as the name suggests, is an anonymous artist or collective in Kochi who plays on satire, and Samir Parker works to bring art to the city’s poorest and most neglected areas. Leena combined art, activism and technology to bring the issue of trafficking of women into India’s public spaces. And Nanjundaswamy solves civic issues through his creative 3D paintings and sculptures. Last year, he placed a life-sized green crocodile in the middle of the road to draw attention to an unattended pothole!
Over time, movements such as St+Art campaign began that have won street art a degree of respectability. Organizations like Delhi Street Art by Yogesh Saini (2013) work towards the promoting creativity in the society. Various street art festivals have taken place in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Pondicherry and other cities, and around the country, artists are transforming public spaces using stencils, spray cans and paint.
Street art not only beautifies a place, giving it a face-lift, it also inspires a wake-up call in the lives of several people. It invokes a sense of motivation in its audience to contribute into putting a stop to the problems we collectively face in the society.
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