Street art is a fairly new concept in India. It takes art out of the almost-too-bitchy, highbrow and niche realm and makes it approachable for the common man. While it is considered vandalistic by a few, street art, more often than not, reflects a strong belief. With this in mind, the St+ART India Foundation curated some of the best local and international talent to initiate the St+ART festival and exhibition earlier this year, which was outrageously successful in Delhi, and now Mumbai too is being injected with a heavy dose of life via murals and installations.
Two, month-long exhibitions - MAGMA Volume I and Volume II - are being held simultaneously in Bandra and Kala Ghoda. We were fortunate enough to receive invitations to the opening nights of both. Jude Bakery in Bandra, a previously abandoned building, was transformed into a fascinating venue, with a palpable Brooklyn-esque vibe in an Indian context. Conversations developed over Miller beers and pani puris. Art was celebrated, the endeavour was applauded and the artists were commemorated.
Hanif Kureshi, the creative director of the festival gave us the lowdown of the festival in Mumbai so far. “Bombay’s been tougher than Delhi, mostly because this is an entirely new concept for people here. In Delhi, we have already had exhibitions like Extension Khirkee, so people are more familiar with street art. But people here are definitely adapting to it as we go on - the process is starting to seem smoother.”
Comparing Delhi and Mumbai, Akshat says, “In Delhi, primarily in Shahpur Jat, an urban village, we sort of had an upper hand because most of the population there was uneducated and subsequently had little to no knowledge of what street art is, so they viewed our work without any preconceived notions. People in Bandra, however, are educated and are of a higher socio-economic standing. They come with set tastes, judgements and opinion - opinions that they don’t hesitate to voice. Although it has been a challenge, we have embraced this aspect too and tried to work around it. Working with the community is imperative and permissions are integral - we don’t want to be outsiders who come in, paint a mural and leave.”
MAGMA VOLUME II @ ST JUDEE BAKERY, BANDRA
MAGMA VOLUME II @ UPADRASTHA HOUSE, KALA GHODA
MAGMA VOLUME I: Pictures by Rhea Baweja
MAGMA VOLUME II: Pictures by Thomas Meyer (Provided by St+art India)