India Has Some Truly Amazing Street Art

Jan 15, 2019

The streets of India’s biggest cities are becoming life-sized canvases for the country’s growing street-art movement kickstarted by a local creative foundation. As the project continues to evolve, we document just a few of the eye-catching works livening up the inner-city districts. By Rachna Sachasinh.

India’s urban landscape is getting a brush of much needed color. Launched in 2014, the St+art India Foundation initiates street-art interventions and neighborhood exhibitions with the goal of bridging social gaps and bringing communities together. St+art’s first project was in Delhi, splashing bright, thought-provoking murals along the city’s typically stark thoroughfares, like this road in the Lodhi Art District lined with a colorful flock by Mexican artist Senkoe (left) and a lotus-inspired tag by Japanese street artist Suiko (right). The project has grown to spotlight the alternative art scene in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Goa and beyond. “Our mission is to activate spaces not known for art and culture,” says Akshat Nauriyal, one of five co-founders of St+art. “We want to make art more democratic, bring it out of museums and take it directly to people.” Each district continues to evolve, with new murals added every few months. The areas are free and open to the public, or you can join hosted tours in New Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad. st-artindia.org; tours start from Rs 500; advanced bookings required, e-mail team@st-artindia.org.

Scattered across Goa, eight hand-painted, 12-meter-high portraits form The Cutout Project, which repurposes traditional sign painting, a livelihood that is fading fast in modern India. The project was conceived by Hanif Kureshi, a St+art co-founder and one of the country’s foremost contemporary artists. The portraits, like this one by local sign painter Deepak Sarast, depict everyday Konkani people, who inhabit India’s southwestern coast, and honors them through these giant billboards that are usually reserved for celebrities.
On the tip of Colaba, where Mumbai meets the Arabian Sea, the vermillion metal drum by French art duo Ella and Pitr adds a rare bit of color to the city’s oldest wet dock, where fisherman still haul in their daily catch as their predecessors did back in 1875. The mural is part of the Sassoon Dock Art Project, an experiential exhibition with installations that are site-specific to this industrial quay on a spit of land that was haggled over for centuries by the Portuguese and British and remains one of Mumbai’s most historically significant.
In Nature’s Arch and Visions of Altered Landscapes by Canadian artist Aaron Li-Hill, tigers, bears and men in air-pollution masks sprint across the canvas, in a rush to escape the march of climate change. Located in Delhi’s Lodhi Art District, the wall art draws attention to India’s pressing air-quality issue, while the real-life tree that grows in and around the central arched walkway signals hope.
The previously unnamed streets in Hyderabad’s Maqtha Art District are now classified as Red, Yellow and Blue Gulleys, laneways that each correspond to the color palette of the more than 30 murals that now paint the suburb. Found on the exterior of a building in the Blue Gulley, the plea for Humanity by local artists Swathi and Vijay pays homage to the community’s strong spiritual and social ties.
Usual, Unusual is Indian art duo Do and Khatra’s lighthearted contribution to Hyderabad’s Maqtha Art District. Located near Necklace Road, the district’s main drag, this piece shows an old man preparing to brush his only tooth with a one-bristle toothbrush, a common morning sight depicted in an uncommon way.
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India Has Some Truly Amazing Street Art

The streets of India’s biggest cities are becoming life-sized canvases for the country’s growing street-art movement kickstarted by a local creative foundation. As the project continues to evolve, we document just a few of the eye-catching works livening up the inner-city districts.