Concrete canvas: Street art show

How citizens are now demanding change through art.

Art is said to be a medium for self-expression, but that’s not always the case with street art. While Banksy has been using art and graffiti to raise awareness about political and cultural issues for a while now, the idea has also been on the rise in India over the past couple of years — also inspiring Delhi’s own street artist Daku’s murals as well.

One of the murals by Mumbai's Project MAD, painted on the walls of a school they partnered.One of the murals by Mumbai’s Project MAD, painted on the walls of a school they partnered.

Hyderabadi graffiti artists Vijay Kumar and Swathi have artworks splashed across the city — most famously at Jubilee Hills Checkpost — while Bengaluru’s The Ugly Indian and artist Baadal Nanjundaswamy use spot fixes — clearing, cleaning and repainting filthy areas in the city — and art installations respectively to raise awareness about civic and urban infrastructural issues.

Most recently, a relatively new group of designers and artists from the city, known as Whimaway, created an installation over a rundown footpath at Ashok Nagar that read ‘R.I.P. Footpath’.

Baadal Nanjundaswamy with his pothole crocodile.Baadal Nanjundaswamy with his pothole crocodile.

One of the artists who worked on the installation, Nithya Suri, says, “Sometimes Indians have this attitude where they think ‘This is how it is and we have to live like this’, but it’s not necessary to do that. We feel art can make a change when you push for it. They’re not the greatest problems and most people want to ignore them, but we feel it’s one of the things we should look into.”

And it’s not just civic issues. Mumbai’s Project MAD is a student-led art collective that paints murals about gender issues, the environment and more. “When we do public walls — art for the sake of beautification — the best part is when people stop by and ask us questions or come and thank us. That’s why we keep going... it is really heartening to get that sort of response,” says the group’s founder Raashi Raghunath.

But while raising awareness is one thing, seeing actionable results is another. A few, such as Nanjundaswamy’s pothole crocodile, get municipal authorities to clean up their act right away. But others, not so much.

However, Sarojini Dantapalli, another artist who worked on the footpath installation, says, “We understand the limitations of art, but the intention is to get a dialogue going. When you bring together people like designers, businessmen or from any walk of life and throw these everyday challenges at them, a much better solution can come out, rather than you or me as individuals trying to solve things.”

Vijay adds that art has always had more of a long-term impact: “If I do something on my own, maybe I’ll be able to change at least one or two people and that could inspire many others. Art can influence a lot of people and is the best way to express your feelings, and to spread awareness no matter what the medium.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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