Graffiti has been there since the ancient times of human civilization when it existed in the form of stone paintings and wall inscriptions. The wave of modern graffiti emerged in 1960’s when the working class took to the streets of sub-urban New York to express their discontent with the established capitalist system. The explosion of Hip-Hop culture in the 1990’s has brought graffiti to where it is today.
Graffiti Scene in India
The graffiti culture is catching pace in India. One can find everything from tags to detailed works of art across the country. The rising popularity of a culture which is essentially western can be credited to the now prevalent online social networking which has brought artists all over the world closer. International artists have become aware of and even collaborated with Indian graffiti artists and new Indian artists have found the motivation to jump on the bandwagon.
How the Graffiti Scene in India is different from the world
In India, the way graffiti goes about is interestingly different from elsewhere in the world. As in developed countries, graffiti in India is illegal if done without the consent of the wall owner but that is where a major difference lies. In India, it is much easier to find people who are willing to let an artist ‘decorate’ their walls. All the artist has to do is build trust by assuring the owner that their wall is going to be a spectacle after the job is done. This happens in less developed localities in urban areas where people are coaxed by the proposition of getting a beautiful mural done on their walls completely free of cost. One such example is Khirki Village in Delhi where walls are open canvases for Indian and overseas graffiti artists. The trend of getting graffiti done on one’s wall in exchange for payment is not common as of now but is bound to become a usual practice in the future when graffiti would be more widely recognized as an art form in India.
The Challenges of a New Culture
Culturally, graffiti doesn’t belong to India as a form of art or expression of ideas. Hip-Hop culture, which gave birth to modern day graffiti in developed countries is now gathering an increasing number of followers in the urban Indian youth. But a huge portion of India is rural or sub-urban where people are not even aware of the Hip-Hop culture. Such people mistaken graffiti as wall painting advertisement which is one of the most economic and omnipresent forms of advertising in rural areas.
Another challenge is the high price of spray cans which can make it tough for the young artists to manage, especially teenagers who have no source of income other than the pocket money from their parents. The high price stems from the low availability of spray cans, the high quality ones being imported in a limited number of cities throughout the country.