Street Art - Adding Vibrancy to your paths

Street Art as well all know is art depicted on the streets in the form of murals or designs, social, impactful or just plain vibrant which makes every path you take breathtakingly beautiful or at least manages to make you stop in your tracks and pay attention to the splash of colours and the harmony of forms taking precedence over many others. From captivating stories to interesting personalities to social causes street artists have managed to capture nuances of various emotions by making walls a canvas for the outlet of their ideas and creativity.

Wikipedia describes street art as an unofficial and independent visual art created in public locations for public visibility. It is also commonly called as graffiti or murals.  The practice of making graffiti dates back to ancient history and has been a part of many cultures since time immemorable. Graffiti has slowly but steadily surfaced from walls, concretes to under bridges and public places. Graffiti comes from the Italian word graffito which means to scratch. It can be traced back to roman and Greek empires and has been greatly influenced by pop and Mayan cultures. 

Till initially Graffiti was not that well recognized in India but with new and emerging artists coming up a lot of exposure to various art form and cultures thanks to social media and collaborative projects wall art or graffiti has started gaining a strong foothold in India. In the last few years various artist have taken the bold step of beautifying our city streets and many urban projects have been creating an impact by instilling vibrancy on to  streets of India’s metro cities.

What is remarkable is that  this type of graffiti art culture in India is constantly evolving. Prior to this rage taking over the walls of our cities were well covered with random posters competing with others , movie posters, advertisements and paan stains. But now with the emphasis on cleanliness drives and beautification of Indian streets the creativity of Wall artist has been given an impetus dotting the streets and sidewalks encouraging people to stop and appreciate and maybe even click a few selfish instead of spitting or urinating on streets, sidewalks and walls. The underlying concept is to make it so beautiful that a person would think twice before spoiling public property.

Since  2015 a new movement called S+art has taken impetus and provided a much organised approach to beautification of Indian streets. The movement has brought together various street artists across metro cities and given them an outlet to their creativity. This has led to a new wave of artistic revolution and has ended up with awe inspiring pieces of art dotting our urban streets and sidewalks. Not only have they turned street walls into inspiring pieces of art but also turned slums and covered shelters for homeless in their vibrant colours and thought provoking design concepts.

The art overflows to the streets of Delhi and also is a major part of public buildings and tourist spots. Mumbai on the other hand with its tall buildings gives a chance for Indian street artists to aim higher and leave you spellbound with their amazing magnitude of size and scale. These works of art have transformed the very famous Dharavi of Mumbai to a spectacular piece of imagination and a burst of colours. Chennai meanwhile mixes the traditional and contemporary while giving the new and emerging artists a chance to bring in and show their forte. 

A lot of street art and inspiration can be seen dotting the streets of Kalaghoda. Other than this independent artists  are coming up with collaborations with likeminded youngsters, artists and the much talked about common man to give wings to their creativity. A very good example of this project is a very unique initiative by two young artists Annushka Hardikar a graphic designer and Alefiya Kachwalla who is a digital marketer. Their pet project revolves around beautifying the streets of Bohri Ali one of the oldest wholesale markets in Pune.  They have in collaboration managed to beautify these age old shutters by taking on the daunting task of painting over more than 20 shutters and giving the entire place a very vibrant makeover. From planning resources to coming up with unique concepts to retaining the old world charm to even helping the shopkeepers overcome their scepticism about letting someone paint their shutters these stalwarts have managed to get the dice rolling in their favour. They have managed to create a mark by not only helping shopkeepers beautify their shutters but also telling their stories through art and at the same time creating enough buzz to pull in more crowds with a crowd funding request on Instagram and other social media and volunteers joining in to support their initiative these two artists have come a long way. 

Another novel and interesting initiative is one by Sayyed Arshad Ali an alumni of Sir J . J Institute of Applied Art and the founder of the iconic WALLCANO  catering to clients like Myntra and Amazon says the biggest challenge here is to maintain the originality and creativity of the artist. He elaborates that today in a world exposed to instagrammable pictures and pinterest ideas the concept of originality is somewhat compromised which his company refuses to do so. Every piece of art created by them is conceptualised and planned over a period of 3 days and he refuses to just give you a copy of your clichéd instagram or pinterest reference and strongly advocates originality of art and idea. One of the most challenging projects undertaken by him is of painting the major metro stations including all its platforms and pillars. " The main obstacle was to paint high beams when the whole world slept by turning off the power for a few hours climbing on trains and taking precautions to make sure the high voltage power is switched off for that period."  Running a wall art company comes with its set of challenges quotes Arshad " It includes delayed payments, procuring materials and insurance and safety of the workers involved but the biggest payoff he describes comes in the form of the adrenaline rush of finishing a task in the given time and the satisfaction of having channelized your creativity. In street art everyday is a new experience dotted by innumerable stories to capture with the wall as your canvas. "

Thus the concept of street art has been taken up by many artists and has gained a strong foothold in Indian Street culture scene. This has not only helped beautify the Indian streets but also has been a popular medium of capturing the richness of each place and its culture telling numerous stories and taking the viewers through a plethora of emotions and memories. Street art silently but noticeably continues to serve its purpose as the new and emerging generation of artists continue painting the town in their vibrance.

Research By : Jyoti Krishnamurthy (Assistant Professor)