Mumbai gets some colour with street art

MUMBAI: Viewing art is commonly thought of as a stodgy affair, requiring hushed tones, hors d'oeuvres and deep pockets. But on the once-grimy bylane walls off 16th road in Bandra, there's art aplenty - one wall has a mesh of aquamarine tetrapods, another with a honeyed cat licking its paws above a fish pond, nearby a dystopian assembly line for mechanized teddy bears - for all and sundry to enjoy. These vivid murals are the result of the St+art India Foundation's almost month-long street art festival, which brings together 20 national and international artists to make art more egalitarian, by "taking art out of the galleries and onto the streets, while also giving the grey landscape of the city a much-needed facelift," said co-founder Arjun Bahl.

The roster includes Indian visual artists Ranjit Dahiya and Amitabh Kumar, German illustrator Dome, Chinese graffiti artist Ano and Polish abstract artist Seikon, who will adorn walls around Bandra and Versova. The artists were handpicked by co-founder and curator Giulia Ambrogi "for their ability to do site-specific work". This festival in collaboration with Celebrate Bandra will highlight subcultures associated with street art such as B-boying, and hosting cycle tours of the murals as well as graffiti workshops. 

It is important to note the distinction between graffiti and the street art created during the festival, which seeks to ruffle no feathers having legal, family-friendly content despite having a few graffiti artists like the controversial Tyler in their collective. "One of our biggest agendas is to go to find spaces which are ignored and dirty, only to clean them up and create something beautiful. People then start taking care of those spaces because the artwork makes it worth saving," said Bahl. Living across a dreary wall that is now brightened by the tetrapod mural, Mrs. Bonnie D'Souza can attest to the power of street art to uplift the city and our spirit. "I am reminded of the ocean as a picture of Marine Drive comes into my mind's eye immediately. It's such a relief."

Ayesha Venkataraman,TNN | Nov 19, 2014, 05.20 AM IST

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