For too long the derelict walls of our national capital have been stained with paan, posters, urine and general apathy, crying out for a splash of colour and beauty. And in 2014, that colour and beauty was delivered in full. Recognising the plight of Delhi’s landscape, the past two years have seen a surge of vibrant colours, motifs and bold lines dyeing the once-filthy walls of the city, giving it a whole new life. With street art culture on the rise and the urban canvas growing towards public spaces, certain artists have beautifully transformed the capital’s walls with dynamic eye-catching visuals, injecting drab roadsides with a renewed vigour.
A larger than life portrait of Mahatma Gandhi adorns the 150-foot-tall outer wall of the Delhi Police headquarters; The Cat with the Woollen Yarn by Anpu Varkey has become a local landmark in Shahpur Jat village, and the 968-metre-long wall of Tihar Jail is painted with the poem Chardiwar written by Seema Raghuvanshi, a female inmate, and stands as India’s longest mural. These powerful works were produced as part of a larger street art festival by St+Art India launched in 2014. And now, to the delight of art lovers in the capital, the foundation is back in Delhi with the latest edition of the St+art Delhi street art festival, which took flight in December of last year and will continue to colour the city till February 2016.
Who: Shoe (Netherlands) Where: Lodhi Art District: For St+art Delhi 2016, Niels Shoe Meulman did something he has never done before - paint a poem written by himself. His love for lettering mixed with Calligraffiti - an art form he developed and pioneered, along with his love for plants seems to have all come together in this piece in Lodhi colony. The plants came in the form of the traditional Indian brooms available at every corner shop which are made of grass (broomcom) which he used extensively in the painting of this piece. He feels that the plant the broom was made with magically shows its true nature within the artwork itself! Photographed by Akshat Nauriyal
“Street art has an entirely different perspective on art. The art world is unapproachable for the common man. In a gallery the intention is to go and see art. However in public spaces, such as Shahpur Jat, the art comes to you. It takes you by surprise and the impact is greater when you are not prepared. The street is a democratic medium. The space always comes first and this differentiates street art from other art,” stated Hanif Qureshi, co-founder and artistic director of the foundation, talking about the artwork done in Shahpur Jat in 2014.
The first phase of the festival saw national and international street artists from countries such as Japan, Netherlands and France collaborating to turn Lodhi Colony into a walk-in vivid public art exhibition, the Lodhi Art District. Taking the paint brush further, other venues include a Dustbin Collection Centre in Defence Colony, Lado Sarai and Govind Puri metro station, to name a few. Giving the city’s worn out walls a much-needed makeover, these artists have invoked every form of artistic expression to aesthetically transform Delhi, and every where we look, there’s more to come. ‘Work In Progress (WIP)-The Street Art Show’ is the upcoming exhibition that the team is currently gearing up for, with artists painting 100 shipping containers at one of Asia’s largest dry ports, the Inland Container Depot in Tughlakabad. A dry port being turned into a colossal and fascinating street art exhibition is truly a sight to be seen, so mark your calendars for February 1 and wait for the magic to unfold.
Scroll on for photographs of murals completed so far during St+art Delhi 2016, and to know more about the incredibly talented artists behind them. Further, for the curious artist in you, we’ve added a sneak-peek preview of Work In Progress (WIP) as the artists prepare their artworks and installations for the opening. So save the date and let the painter, illustrator, designer or amateur artist in you be inspired.
[All images and artist information courtesy St+Art India foundation. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram for updates and more information about their work.]
Who: Suiko (Japan) Where: Lodhi Art District 'The Lotus' by Suiko takes the national flower of India - the lotus and re-imagines it with his signature of curved lines and Japanese characters to create this mural for the Lodhi Art District. Being a pioneer of the graffiti movement in Japan, Suiko explores newer ways of writing his name which is a constant element in all his figurative compositions. By also incorporating the tones and colours of the neighbourhood, Suiko has left behind a wonderful gift for the people of Lodhi Colony. Photographed by Akshat Nauriyal
Who: Anpu (India) Where: Lodhi Art District Anpu Varkey continues to push her boundaries as an artist by exploring newer forms in her work, like this mural in Lodhi Colony. In this the piece titled 'Lava Tree', from the deep recesses of a dreamscape, perpetuating the flow of lava, the tree posits to consume the entire building, shadowing the menace of our minds. Photographed by Akshat Nauriyal
Who: Ashwani’s Public Urinal (India) Where: Lodhi Art District The Meharchand market road has very few public toilets, as a result of which public urination is a big menace. As a DIY solution to that, Indian artist Ashwani from basicshit.org has gone ahead and installed two public toilets in front of Reko Rennie's wall in Lodhi Art District. Photographed by Akshat Nauriyal
Who: Chifumi (France) Where: Lodhi Art District 'Padma' by Chifumi is one of the first pieces of the Lodhi Art District. This mural is inspired from Padma Mudra- a symbolic Indian hand gesture to depict a lotus mixed with Khmer patterns from Cambodia where the artist currently resides. Photographed by Akshat Nauriyal
Who: Mahendra (India) Where: Lodhi Art District St+art Delhi 2016 will also feature some of the most interesting indiginous artworks from India. Mahendra Pawar and his team are here from Samode, Rajasthan, which is famous for its painted havelis. Working opposite Khanna market, they are adorning a wall with traditional Shekhawati painting for Lodhi Art District. Photographed by Naman Saraiya
Who: Rakesh Memrot (India) Where: Lodhi Art District This mural being painted by Delhi based artist Rakesh Memrot, is dedicated to Gond Art which is native to Central India. Photographed by Akshat Nauriyal
Who: Amitabh Kumar (India) Where: Lodhi Art District Indian artist Amitabh Kumar beginning work on his piece for the Lodhi Art District. Photographed by Akshat Nauriyal
Who: Reko Rennie (Australia) Where: Lodhi Art District: Reko Rennie's work in progress mural titled “Original Aboriginal” for the Lodhi Art District. Reko Rennie is an interdisciplinary artist who explores his Aboriginal identity through contemporary mediums. Photographed by Akshat Nauriyal
Who: Horus (India) Where: Dustbin Collection Centre The mural, titled 'GARB AGE', is a subtle take on consumerism and its effect on the world around us. With growing consumption demands, the amount of pollution in the world is also increasing exponentially having an adverse effect on nature and animals that reside in it. Hence, Horus calls the age we live in 'Garb Age' in this piece he made at a Dustbin Collection Centre in Defence Colony. Photographed by Akshat Nauriyal
Who: Colectivo Licuado & AlfAlfa (Uruguay) Where: Dustbin Collection Centre The trio from Uruguay spent a few weeks in Delhi before painting this mural. The piece is inspired by several elements, characteristics and people they found interesting in the city. Having spent a few days painting their wall, they left a small token of gratitude for the tea vendor who has a stall right next to the wall. With the help of Painter Shabbu, a Sign Painter in Delhi, they wrote “This cart belongs to Chote Lal” on the cart painted on their mural in Hindi Typography. Photographed by Akshat Nauriyal
Preview of Indian artist Anpu’s piece on the first container for ‘WIP’ - The Street Art Show. Photograph courtesy: Anpu Varkey
Inkbrushnme working on his piece for the show
Iranian artist NAFIR at work inside a shipping container. At WIP, artists will be exhibiting their works inside as well outside the containers. Photographed by Naman Saraiya.
Master of calligraffiti, Neils Shoe Meulman writing his own composition on one of the containers that he will embellish with his art. Photographed by Hanif Kureshi