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St+Art Delhi: Jazzing the Streets with Art!!

Posted by
on February 13, 2016 at 04:44 PM

© Courtesy of Internet Resources

And while on Street Art, let’s take a look at some remarkable street art happening closer home! In Delhi with St+Art – an ongoing Delhi city festival , where the streets are being transformed with artists from all over the world have gathered to – literally – “paint the town red”!! Here’s a peep into the International and Indian street artists taking over massive walls, places in decrepit conditions, and even regular social or commercial hubs, in various precincts of Delhi year after year, and converting the urban environment into a permanent walking art gallery.

Starting off as graffiti – emerging from sociopolitical rebellion, done surreptitiously by notorious elements in the dark of night, and scorned upon by the upper classes and critics as ‘vandalism’, Street Art has evolved into a mainstream form of art, gaining mass popularity and even critical acclaim!!  India was probably a bit slow to catch on to the growing reverence for Street Art – but Delhi led the way, four years ago; when the St+Art India Foundation organised the first Urban Street Art Festival.

The brainchild of Hanif Kureshi, co-founder and artistic director of the campaign - the festival sees national and international artists coming together to do murals, installations, exhibitions, screenings, talks, workshops and curated walks. The initiative is a massive social movement to get more people interested in art, and will also encourage public participation in urban spaces. The current, fourth edition of St+Art’s initiative in collaboration with the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), focuses on the Lodhi Colony precinct. 

The urban rejuvenation work of the area started in December, as 24 acclaimed international and national street artists flocked to the Capital and started working on walls and corners between Khanna Market and Meherchand Market to convert Lodhi Colony into India's first Public Art District.

"Centrally-located and pedestrian friendly, Lodhi Colony is an ideal place for the public art gallery in Delhi. The perfectly-aligned walls of Lodhi Colony serve as a perfect canvas for each participating artist. With each mural located within walking distance, Lodhi Art District will be the first public space of its kind in the country. Hopefully, after completion, this will fuel the growth of street art in India and also open up the idea of choosing public art as career for the younger generation," believes Kureshi. 

12 international street artists from Australia, USA, Japan, France, Mexico, Germany, the Netherlands, Uruguay, Iran, Poland, Spain and Italy have been in in Delhi since December. One of the most talked about is an interdisciplinary Australian artist, Reko Rennie, who explores his aboriginal identity using traditional geometric patterning. "I've always been drawn to hand-painted signage. India has an amazing variety of artists who specialise in this art form - from local signs to hand-painted trucks carrying freight. That was another reason to use the patterning," says Rennie. Meanwhile, a Japanese artist from Hiroshima, Suiko, is working on his take on the lake in Lodhi Garden—a pink lotus blooming in broad graffiti strokes at Khanna market, while French artist Chifumi paints his interpretation of the Padma Mudra on a wall in Meherchand market.

In terms of public involvement in the Street Art movement, the Lodhi Art District Project had a wall dedicated to the Swachh Bharat Mission – which was transformed with the participation of Lodhi Colony residents, with the support of Resident Welfare Associations.

This year’s festival also includes an Exhibition called WIP – Work in Progress; at the Inland Container Depot, in Tughlakabad, which opened on January 31st.  In this, the parking lot of the depot was converted into an art hub using 100 shipping containers.

With several artists like Nafir (Iran), Amitabh (Bengaluru), Anpu (Delhi), Shoe (Netherlands) and NeverCrew (Switzerland) splashing their imagination inside the containers or on the container walls, the ICD has now transformed into a massive exhibition space flaunting some outstanding art-works.

Done in collaboration with CONCOR - Container Corporation of India – this effort aims to reinvent a hidden and vibrant part of the city, which is presently known to few. The partnership is the first step towards the urban rejuvenation of the neighborhood - in and around Inland Container Depot, Tughlakabad.

Besides this two-month festival, Italian artist Agostino Lacurci will paint the Govind Puri Metro Station with murals, as a part of yet another project that St+art has undertaken in collaboration with DMRC.

Phew! That sure is a lot of art!! To see the Capital getting on to the international art scene, is indeed wonderful. One hopes to see this much-needed reinvention spreading to urban ghettos around the country!! 

Street Art created over the past three editions of Delhi's Urban Street Art Festival

Mahatma Gandhi, Visual Illusions, Crocheted blankets, Cats, Crows, Urban Menaces. Women Empowerment, etc are the issues that street artists have highlighted on the walls of Delhi...

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