By Bhavani – Jun 10, 2014
In India, Graffiti is far from rebellion; artists are invited by city corporations to paint their walls. In Fort Kochi, it’s different.
Wall art is not new to India. We have always used walls as canvases, evidence of which is found in our villages even today. Over the past few years, it has changed. Simple, traditional wall art has become abstract, thought-provoking graffiti that adorns walls along a road, rarely your own personal space. And it’s definitely modern now; you see graffiti in hip areas across the country from Bandra to Hauz Khas. Last year, one brand used graffiti to market their clothing line in a Mumbai mall’s parking lot.
In India, graffiti is far from rebellion; in fact people invite artists to paint their walls – seen along Tulsi Pipe Road in Mumbai where artists were invited to express themselves and importantly, they were given complete freedom. There are a lot of new artists jumping in to express their thoughts on online forums, to discuss Indian graffiti and people like you and me ogling at it every time we pass. The road can only get better now – literally and figuratively!
Fort Kochi holds in its palms a vintage charm with narrow lanes, old shops, houses with large square windows, and a definite languid pace of life. I always enjoy being there, but recently there was something new to be seen. And new in Fort Kochi is a big deal, there is not much new there! The walls in and around Fort Kochi are now covered with street art. Locals say it’s an after-effect of the Kochi Muziris Biennale in 2012. This was an International Art Festival that sprung up all over Kochi with exhibits at different locations. It aims to celebrate diverse artists, appreciate art in all forms and expression and dissolve man-made boundaries of faith and geography.
As I walked around ogling at all work, I searched for the meaning of these visuals – for my interpretation. You might say it doesn’t matter, but art without interpretation is just wallpaper – bypassed and as unimportant.
I see raw emotion in this piece and that is what captivates me. The tigress in each mother comes out when her cubs are threatened. She raves, rants and can kill but still picks them up gingerly, without wounding their tender skin. That’s what I see here: the ‘sea-tiger’ taking her cubs out and guarding them through their first ‘swim’ in the ocean of wilderness, always backing them up.
Graffiti changes streets; gives it another look just like a makeover. Look at the first picture and then the second – the same graffiti in the context of the entire road. See the difference?
I like this man. He’s holding the axe of destruction, his face contorted with emotion. I see great strength and determination. He is at that tipping point – he could destroy or hold himself back. The pause, the fact that he is waiting, makes me believe he is reconsidering his actions. If I were to paint a series, the next picture would have him sitting below the tree at peace.
Pause before this woman. She has a nose pin, her hair neatly tied behind maybe in a bun. She is every mother. And like every mother, she’s waiting for her child’s return. But I see aloofness in her face and it makes me wonder, if she has been waiting endlessly and fruitlessly.
Of all the works I saw in Kochi, this elaborate and lengthy piece along the Aspin Wall impressed me the most. Maybe because it’s too smart for me to understand; So I feel awe? I think it could stand for the survival of the fittest in every situation or the inner workings of the mind.
My favourite is the black & white drawing of the being reaching out with his / her tongue. Desire – the starting of all problems!
All of this is just my take on this street art. What’s your interpretation? Leave a comment, start a conversation, open up a world.