The ground just outside the Boys and Girls Government Secondary School in Sector 3, Dwarka, is mostly a thoroughfare used by the residents to reach the street. But last weekend, it was witness to some unusual activity — men with spray cans and ladders were seen painting the school boundary wall in vibrant colours. So after school ended on Friday, children rushed out to catch a glimpse. “Don’t touch that can,” said Brazilian street artist Sergio, struggling to keep the children away. He was completing a portrait of an old man sitting on his haunches and holding a spray can. “I just saw this man sitting on the boundary wall this morning and thought he would be apt for the wall,” added Sergio, who did the Brinda Project in 2012, a collaborative street art project with artist Harsh Raman.
About 15 graffiti artists from across the country including few from Germany and Taiwan had gathered for a graffiti jam over the week. Organised as an allied event to the ongoing St.ART Delhi, a street art festival, the jam saw artists sharing a wall and painting individual art pieces. Though graffiti art has seen a rise in Delhi in the past few years, it is rare to see so many graffiti artists at one spot. “A jam is really important because you can hang out with fellow graffiti artists, give tips and see how they use a particular colour. It becomes important to connect with everyone and spread the movement,” said Zine, 28, a graffiti artist from Delhi who organised the jam. “It is very nice to be able to witness the individual style of artists, which reflects through such a meet,” added Zine, part of a three-member graffiti crew from Delhi called Aerosol Assassins, who have painted walls in Malviya Nagar, Panchsheel, and Khirki extension.
Most of the artists at the jam painted their names in their unique style using interesting typefaces and colour combinations. There was Stic, 28, the only practising graffiti artist from Shillong, who painted his name in bold and in vibrant blue and orange hues. “It is very fulfilling work but it is not really easy to work as a graffiti artist because the public thinks we are defacing walls,” said Stic, a self-taught artist. Though graffiti is more about writing your name in interesting patterns, it is not limited to that alone. There was a mixture of portraiture and abstract art on display, all made with spray cans and roller paints. “Graffiti is more about finding your own path and developing a unique style,” said Zine, who started off in 2005 after seeing a graffiti work at the AIIMS flyover.
Most of the Indian graffiti artists are not more than a few years into this craft. They are all self taught or aided by YouTube videos. Some of the newcomers include artists such as Elf, who lives in Ghaziabad, and Comit, another artist from Delhi, who recently passed out of school. While some are full-time into graffiti work, Snic, 31, from Darjeeling, runs a south asian cuisine restaurant in Kolkata. “I do this kind of work in isolated spots across Kolkata when I get time. It is a liberating experience,” he said.