Bengaluru’s first edition of the St+Art India festival intends to paint the town red—and plenty of other colours too. The month-long festival, which starts today, will see the city’s wall coming alive with the work of multiple street artists.

“Public art creates a new dialogue with the citizens and urban environmental fabric of a city," says festival curator Giulia Ambrogi. This is the first edition of the festival in Bengaluru—it was first conceptualized in 2014 in Delhi.

The Bengaluru edition is being held in collaboration with the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd and Asian Paints.

Ambrogi says Bengaluru is an ideal place to host the festival because “the city is very receptive to art and culture", especially when it comes to the city’s underground cultural scene. “You already see walls painted by groups like The Ugly Indian in the city," she adds.

A scene from the St+Art festival in Delhi this year. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
A scene from the St+Art festival in Delhi this year. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

And with the thriving counterculture comes a bunch of talented artists who subscribe to the notion of that culture, she points out. “There are incredible artists from the city, including Guess Who, Shilo Shiv Suleman and the Aravani Art Project, who have never collaborated together."

This time, they are coming together for projects that focus on specific issues and topics. Poornima Sukumar’s Aravani Project, for instance, focuses on gender fluidity—something that was very much a part of Indian mythology and tradition but is no longer seen in a positive way. “She will do a performance with different genders and the entire wall will become a performance space," says Ambrogi—both the wall and the people will be painted.

Some of the venues include Cubbon Park, MG Road, Majestic, the city’s transport hub, KR Market, famous for its flowers, and the stretch between MG Road and Indiranagar. While the focus is on the walls, there will also be several art installations in public spaces, Ambrogi adds. “We don’t believe in the gallery system for art," says Ambrogi. “Most people do not step in there—we believe that art has a key role in the growth of society and should be accessible to a wider audience."

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