By Kuber Chopra – Sep 14, 2014
I was in Kochi, Kerala for a holiday recently.
Between getting a massage before every meal, Todi after each, I got to spend some time in Fort Kochi a popular tourist haven.There was also some kayaking in the backwaters, which if you do not do, there’s not much else you can in a big lousy tub.
Fort Kochi is a busy tourist area. The kind of busy, where a lot of people are doing nothing at all.
While we pedaled around the imaginary fort in rented cycles, I spotted some Graffiti. I felt these works deserved a place on the internet, so here they are,captured in their brilliance with my top of the line phone camera..
Found in the Chinese Fishing Nets area,these are the works of a local artist, Jaleel. My assumption is that all 3 are his, even though he has tagged just one. The artist seems to have simply substituted canvas for concrete.
The idea of God is central. Kerala is statistically one of the most secular states in the country and this work either highlights the over simplified idea of “God is One” or is merely a reminder that he ‘should be’ in a society where there is tension on religious lines.
That the artist is a believer, there is no doubt, as his perspective on matters such as environment are also theistic – “God is an artist not an engineer” for instance.
This Gaia (NY based graffiti artist, who’s work reflects human sympathies) style graffiti on your way to the Spice Market is a tribute to the proprietor of the Tea joint right opposite this wall.
The first version of this rendering was painted over by the authorities. The earnest artist steadfastly spent another night with an assistant to redo this. All for the love of great tea I’m guessing.
On the wall opposite, Santa Cruz Basilica on our way to the Kathakali show late in the evening (excuse the poor photo) I came across this work which reminded me of post war Japanese manga (Sazae-san like).
It looks like a little short story where girl meets guy, gets pregnant; guy doesn’t want to have anything to do with it so she raises a daughter all by herself (the image missing from my shot, apologies again). The sentiment seemed a bit alien, almost too urban for Kochi. But the characters, specially that of the guy seems like he was a local. Either way this one is a social enigma and we’ll leave it at that.
There is this Delhi based artist Yantra who appropriately (because of his name) does a lot of man-machine pieces. Among one of his other works is Lord Ganesh wearing the Kroenen mask. Fucking brilliant.
I’m not sure if this is travelling Yantra or someone else, but it sure reminds me of Yantra’s work. Found just off the Santa Cruz Rd. opposite the Cochin Ayurvedic Centre (where I got a Sirodha and its recommended). It looks like a complex animal of the sea or the space but I can’t be sure.
For the longest time, Kerala has witnessed friendly migrations and not so friendly advances mostly from the sea. Not just in Kochi but across major port cities in Kerala, you’d notice this in the wide demography and even architecture.
It’s not a fledging scene, as isn’t Grafitti in all of India. But it is refreshing for the lack of attention it is expected to get. I’m certain I’ve missed a few great works but hey! I’m doing the responsible thing by putting up these.