Street art festival adds hues to city's forlorn walls

Many flyovers and underpasses, a few landmark buildings and some cold storages in the capital are getting a makeover by several artists to create a dialogue with everyday commuters and bring art into the public domain.

In its second edition, St. Art Delhi, an urban art festival, is spread over areas like South Extension, Lodhi Colony, Khan Market, Azadpur, Moolchand and would also cover two special projects: rain baseras and Delhi buses.

“The artists have already painted some of the rain baseras (shelters for the homeless) and we are in the process of painting some DTC buses,” Arjun Bahl, festival
co-founder and director, told IANS.

The concept stemmed with the aim to take art beyond galleries to the streets, where the audiences are not expected to be knowledgeable about art but instead are interested in engaging with works that have a universal appeal.

This year, 12 international artists and 15 from India have taken to cold storages in Azadpur Mandi, the walls of Lok Nayak Bhawan in Khan Market and the plain walls of Lodhi Colony to create significant works.

This makeover, in a way, is beautifying Delhi and one that Bahl thinks is in complete sync with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign. “You look around and there are posters of political parties and other advertisements that are complete eyesores. So when you have something interesting on your walls that is not just colourful but at times comes with a social message, it looks pleasing to the eyes,” said Bahl, adding the initiative has been received well.

The festival organisers had to take permission from bodies like the Central Public Works Department, the Delhi government’s Public Works Department, the New Delhi Municipal Council and the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board.

With no government funding in sight, Bahl was glad to admit that for an activity like this, paint was the main ingredient and their sponsor, Asian Paints, gave them enough to keep the event going.

“They gave us the biggest infrastructure support and helped us to sail through smoothly,” he said. “Some government bodies are easy to deal with and some are difficult but we being the young India, I am hopeful that things will change for the good in the future,” he added.

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