St+Art India recently splashed a truckload of colour onto Delhi’s pollution-ridden surface. Their project, ‘Work in Progress,’ took art to a place where you would least expect to see it-a container depot in Tughlakabad. The picture could be straight out of a New York City dream-paintings on massive containers stacked one above another, as a landfill, trucks and other grimy containers look on from the backdrop at the Inland Container Depot. It could almost be an oasis in the vast desert of industrial Delhi.
The containers form a makeshift gallery of sorts, with 25 artists from Mexico, India, France, Spain, Italy and others coming together in order to bring art to Delhi’s public spaces. ‘Mirage,’ by Spanish artist Borondo, is a painting of a royal palace on a stack of containers. The work reflects the illusion that is involved in the lives of the workers at the container depot, who handle valuable goods every day, but have no access to use these goods themselves. On the other hand, Daku’s ‘Breathe’ is almost a dare to the viewer to breathe, for it is painted with a black ink made of particles that cause air pollution. ‘Matruka’ by Harshvardhan Kadam is a representation of the power of female divinity. Anpu Varkey’s ‘Fruits of Childhood’ takes you back to your own intimate memories of childhood within a public space. The show ended last week and now, the conatiners, in all their painted glory, will be back on the road, transporting goods.
The work covers a broad range of themes that evoke mixed feelings and reactions in a public space, which, to a large extent, is what ‘art’ should embody. Bringing art out of plush galleries and putting it out on the streets, in the most unconventional spaces, ensures that it is made accessible to all sections of the population. Afterall, art should not be the monopoly of the affluent. At a time when our rights to freedom of speech and expression are questioned, art as a powerful medium of expression in public spaces comes as a refreshing breather. Art reflects the time and circumstances we live it and it can be a potent tool to make a change or get a point across, particularly when introduced in places that are open and easily accessible to a wide range of people.
St+Art Delhi’s street art project at Lodhi Colony, which is rapidly becoming India’s first ever ‘art district,’ is also a sight for sore eyes. World renowned street and graffiti artists including Gaia, Shilo Shiv Suleman and Senkoe have worked their magic on the walls of the district, each telling a marvellous story.