Graffiti: An Emerging Art Form

Posted on March 8, 2012 in Culture-Vulture

By Nidhi Sharma:

Graffiti is writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place. Graffiti ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings, and has existed since ancient times. Graffiti’s roots can be seen in New York. In modern times, paint, particularly spray paints, and marker pens have become the most commonly-used graffiti materials.

For sure, there are many different reasons why people spray something onto a wall. Some do it for political reasons, some just for the fun of destroying something; others seek recognition from a certain group of people (the so called “scene”), some for adrenaline, and yet others to create an aesthetic moment that is unique for them and the people around them. Radical and political, Graffiti has been used as a means of advertising both legally and illegally. Graffiti can also be used as an expression that is offensive to the existing governments and may make rebellious remarks. This form of graffiti can be difficult to locate, as it is mostly removed by the local authorities.

Graffiti Culture in India

The graffiti culture is not new in India. Evidences have shown that the art is as old as the country itself. In India, public places, transports, school and college classrooms bathrooms and benches and desks are live example of a common Indian’s talent in graffiti culture. Turn your gaze to any telephone pole or electrical transformer at the busy thoroughfares, or take a trip along the country roads and small villages — you will always find some graffiti art in such places. Moreover, our precious monuments are the best place for Romeos to express their love.

In modern times, paint, particularly, spray paint and marker pens have become the most commonly-used graffiti materials, and this type of graffiti and “street art” culture in India is evolving. Graffiti may also express underlying social and political messages and a whole genre of artistic expression. Graffiti artists have become a part of India’s heritage. Many house owners now welcome them to paint on their walls so that these are not captured by political parties. Social messages like AIDS awareness, environmental issues etc., are now getting more popularity.

Graffiti culture is becoming popular and producing a new breed of graffiti artistes in the places like Agra, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Goa, Jaipur, Kolkata, Leh, Mormugao ,Mumbai ,New Delhi , Panaji , Pune ,Udaipur, Kochi and Trivandrum.

Graffiti as a profession

Some of the famous graffiti artists in India are Yantre, Sawan, Wink, Ganjit, Purswani and Pawan. Now that graffiti has become a profession, more and more youngsters are learning this art form. People are hiring these artists for their home and business establishments.

Is graffiti a punishable offence in India?

Like in most countries, in India, too, marking or painting property without the property owner’s consent is considered defacement and vandalism, which is a punishable crime. Controversies that surround graffiti continue to create disagreement amongst city officials/law enforcement and writers who wish to display and appreciate work in public locations. In Chennai, The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has arrested four graffiti artists from Tirunelveli for illegally painting advertisements on walls on railway premises.

A lexicon would define graffiti as the tasteless defacing of public properties with posters and writings; while psychologists explain it as an abnormal social behaviour to grab attention and fame or just to have fun at the expense of others. Whatever be the actual underlying reason, graffiti is soon going to flourish in India.