The Scenario of Indian Street Art: Then and Now

Posted on June 5, 2012 in Culture-Vulture

By Vishakh Unnikrisnan:

Indian street art has gone through a lot of change post-independence. Pre-independence, street art were mostly comprised of illustrations of deities in different forms and figures and other religious and communal symbols that were popular and considered crucial at the time. These were, at the time not considered as acts of vandalism. This slowly changed whilst the independence struggle and street art concentrated more on rebellion and antagonism towards the British. This also grew popular, and proved to be a driving force to influence masses at the time. Street Art in India has had a long history, and have comprised of various depictions of culture and religion which has both questioned and strengthened the secularity and integrity of the country.

Street art in India is comprised of many different kinds of art work, paintings, caricatures and illustrations on different mediums comprising walls, temples, doors, store signs, behind trucks and rickshaws. Street art in the present age did not just compromise of deities or caricatures of politicians, but also advertisements, promotions and lots of random graffiti displays. Advertisements of Thumps Up, Coke were a couple of years back very popular and corporations as such, used to hire artists to help promote their products especially in villages and sub-urban areas where hanging up billboards wasconsidered not feasible or impactful. Impasto paintings were hugely popular at the time basically because of the lack of funds. There were specific artists for each kind of art, and the medium on which they were drawn. Painters were usually posterity of artists, which would explain why paintings and illustrations on vehicles, especially trucks and rickshaws used to be similar or almost the same for decades. New and revolutionary ideas for paintings and other art forms were rarely present or acknowledged, especially in the rural and sub-urban area. In rural areas, painters were basically taught the art by their parents who made the whole profession ancestral. There are many examples of street art in India. The so called ‘Wall Project’ began in Mumbai in 2009. The five kilometre long wall at Tulsi Pipe Road in central Mumbai was the project’s upbeat canvas. In Bangalore also, several local artists in association with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) have beautified the city. In Chennai, political figures still dominate the streets. Delhi also has welcomed the graffiti movement through a music band that promotes dub step in India. Indian street art has failed to gain international claim for now, but with such graffiti gaining popularity, we can expect a positive outlook.