The walls of Bastion Bungalow had been the canvas of street artist Jaleel for several years until his works were wiped off last year during renovation.
Everyone reaching Fort Kochi beach would stop for a while to admire the paintings of street artist Jaleel. Hailing from Kochangady, Mattancherry, Jaleel is inspired by the places he visited and the people he met in the past 40 years. Other than sceneries, his paintings deal with socially-relevant issues and incidents which shook the world. Once a painting is completed, he would wait for people, especially tourists, to go through his paintings and support him financially.
He believes that “art is not for sale”. He got into trouble when the second edition of the Biennale began as many thought that Jaleel’s paintings were part of it. The artist in him didn’t want to be under a banner and soon he wrote near his works — “This is not part of the Biennale”, which followed many threats demanding him to wipe off his paintings.
Jaleel has been drawing since he was eight and for years, travelled across Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra before coming back to Fort Kochi to start painting on the walls of Bastion Bungalow. For the past 10 years, his canvas has portrayed issues and incidents such as tsunami, 9/11 attack and Fort Kochi boat tragedy.
“The bungalow was renovated last year and my paintings were wiped off as strict orders came from the authorities. I had to repaint them on another canvas; it was a heartbreaking moment,” says Jaleel. “During a trip to Kovalam, I came across the sculpture of the mermaid that influenced me to create a similar one at Fort Kochi near the basement of the walls of the Bastion Bungalow. But, that was destroyed as part of the renovation and months of my labour went in vain,” he adds.
One of his famous works is a painting of Lord Shiva, Jesus Christ and a mosque on a single canvas, depicting religious harmony.