Bold letters, bright colors and a big brick wall… The walls of places like Delhi’s Hauz Khas village are fast becoming the playground for aspiring street artists in India.
Intrigued by the freedom and moved by the possibilities this art form held, Italian artist Matteo tried his hand at Graffiti 7 years ago and hasn’t stopped since.
Seeing the scope of street art in India, he has travelled to Delhi to boost graffiti work and murals.
Encouraging a group of artists, Matteo and others displayed their talent along Delhi’s Khirkee extension throughout March this year.
Seeing Matteo’s talent and precision with his brush, store owners in Hauz Khas Village took his help to bring the walls to life.
And though street art, like Graffiti, is still looking for recognition in India, the chances of it flourishing here is more likely than in places like Europe.
“Here it’s very easy to get permission to have a wall to paint compared to situation in Europe where it’s completely illegal… it’s prohibited by law. Here the condition is very different, I see people painting during the day for example, very different to Europe,” said Matteo.
But established Graffiti artists are hard to come by in India. At present, there are only a handful, some who have entered the scene quite by accident, like this couple.
Public spaces and entire neighbourhoods are exploding with colour, as a new breed of graffiti artists proclaim their presence
Artist Ompal, and his wife Meenu, started exploring Graffiti and Murals more intensively, after being invited to do a graffiti outside the Indian Habitat Centre in the Capital. And since spray paints cost more, they’re breaking barriers by using different types of paint… the result is just as effective.
While Ompal and Meenu pursue it for pleasure at home, they feel the financial challenges to continue to be serious. Ompal said, “It’s simple… we’ll paint if we get the money. We need money for everything. In America young artists charge for painting graffiti on buildings. This trend isn’t there in India yet. There isn’t a dearth of talent in India. Once the trend starts picking up, many graffiti artists will start emerging.”
Despite the cash crunch, graffiti is catching on fast in many other states. The walls of Bangalore’s Malleswaram railway station boast of street art. The walls are covered with murals depicting the trains and passengers.
Born out of a desire to spread community messages, and not a call of rebellion, graffiti artists in India are working in teams to tell the story of the streets.
Bangalore based artist Shiloh Shiv Suleiman said “there are two aspects to this. One is you get to get your art out to a very public space, which works out nicely. Then the other aspect is that sometimes you want to do it for the streets you don’t want to do it so much for the money or pay, with a lot of graffiti artists you’ll find it’s not their full time job, it’s something that they do because they care about it…”
Wall artists in India are using Graffiti and a brick canvas to paint stories in a way they love to.