Adding Colour to the Chaos

In recent years, graffiti on our streets has evolved from random scrawls of Shahi Dawakhana or ‘Pooja I heart you’ to art treasures that range from hilarious caricatures to colourful portraits of Bollywood actors to intricate geometric patterns and flashy murals of gods

Art is no longer restricted to an artist’s canvas. Dynamic and explosive, street art is redefining the genre. The city walls, which bore worn-out paint with sticking cobwebs and scraping plaster, now shine with dazzling imagery, thanks to a growing culture of street art spreading its canvas in our cities. Of course, there are some cities that are more art-oriented than others. Mumbai, for instance, was among the first to embrace street art, followed by Kolkata, Hyderabad, Delhi and several Rajasthani towns. In Udaipur, as in other
parts of Rajasthan, you will come across paintings on the walls of houses — motifs of haathi, ghodas and warriors painted on walls. Walking through the streets is simply delightful for the riot of colour and artwork. You can call it ‘traditional graffiti’. Bright colours, detailed, realistic representation and warriors in traditional costumes ride astride horses and elephants with aplomb. Pune, of course, is funky. With the eclectic education and smorgasbord of activities that young people can study and do, the varying influences of traditional art, the Osho ashram and the experiments in filmmaking, design and education, Pune is a city that is simply teeming with the excitement of art. Puducherry or Pondicherry as it was earlier called, abounds with gods and goddesses. Lord Ganesha is the
presiding deity but images and statues and images of Lord Murugan, Lord Vishnu and Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman also happily co-exist. Punjab, on the other hand, does not have a whole lot of art on its walls. Although it makes up for that in its truck and dhaba art. Nor do you find too much graffiti/ street art in Chandigarh, the lack of which, sometimes gives the city the reputation of being ‘soulless.’ Driving to the Himachal hills and particularly on the long and winding road in Old Manali whereabouts most foreign visitors hang out is the place that artists and painters express themselves on the walls of residences, signboards and restaurants. The strains of music flow out of the small cafeterias and shops, and the streets are bursting with art. No wonder Manali has such allure about it. “My real goal is to add aesthetics to our walls and bring more creativity and art into public spaces,” says Yogesh Saini, who heads the Delhi Street Art (DSA), an organisation that promotes public art with the help of young artists. Saini’s DSA is one among a range of organizations, which have taken root in the last couple of years in Delhi with the sole aim of bringing more colour to the city’s public spaces. They work in close coordination with municipal and local bodies to ensure greater beautification of a city that has strong historical and cultural roots. His latest brief: give a facelift to the drab, unattractive walls of Shankar Market, with a little help from the local government. Colourful imagery, full with dragons, octopuses and human figures, now adorn the walls. The special thing about street art is that it’s dynamic and explosive. Street artists declare the world as their canvas. If, ina place you glimpse a piece of street art, get ready because there’s always more…just look for it!

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