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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Social messages, Covid protocol: Street art makes a resurgence in Delhi

“They would come every day to ask what was to be done, keen to get involved. We felt this way they would also feel more of a sense of ownership of the space once it’s clean and it might help to keep it that way,” said Saini.

Written by Vandana Kalra | New Delhi |
Updated: March 7, 2021 5:46:37 am

When founder of Delhi Street Art, Yogesh Saini, arrived at a spot near Rajendra Place Metro station to paint a filthy wall recently, not only did the team attract immediate attention of children living close by, but also their willing participation. The wall, titled ‘Wall of Kindness’, is now painted in bright hues and motifs from folk art — from a parakeet to a peacock.

“They would come every day to ask what was to be done, keen to get involved. We felt this way they would also feel more of a sense of ownership of the space once it’s clean and it might help to keep it that way,” said Saini.

Another wall, at Jhandewalan, “represents the energy chakras of life, and the cycle of birth-death-rebirth”. The projects undertaken in partnership with the North MCD are among several walls painted by the team. With the city slowly returning to normalcy from the pandemic, artists are turning walls into their canvas, painting social messages, healthcare protocols or simply brightening the area. In the last few months, Delhi Street Art has painted a tribute to honour ‘waste warriors’ at Select CityWalk; another emphasising on the need to go plastic free at Shahabad Mohammadpur station; and a mural representing daily lives of people in the neighbourhood near Khan Market.

Backed by The Austrian Cultural Forum, New Delhi, another street art project saw artist Ranjit Kumar and his team painting a wall at Minto Bridge.

Meanwhile, St+art India Foundation collaborated with the New Delhi Municipal Council and Architecture for Dialogue for their community initiative Cycles4Change for beautification of a cycling stretch in Lodhi colony, and initiated another project that had artist Shilo Shiv Suleman pay tribute to women waste pickers in Delhi.

“Art evokes different emotions in different people and street art helps reach out to a larger audience,” said Hanif Qureshi, artistic director and co-founder of the group.

Qureshi was also part of the ‘Art Meets Street’ series launched by the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) last month on its social media handles. Hosted by interior designer Vinita Chaitanya, it engaged with street artists from across India. Prominent names such as Suleman and Anpu Varkey spoke about exploring street art.

“The series explores the reality of living among art and is built on personal expression that becomes a cultural representation of a city or time. The effect on the people who grow up around it, pass it during their commute, or see it just once — leaving an influence on the collective consciousness,” said Kiran Nadar, founder and chairperson of KNMA.

On the evolution and importance of street art in India, Qureshi added, “Earlier, there was more creative vandalism but slowly people have begun to understand the impact of street art and what should be the focus…”

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