A popular quote says
“People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish… but that’s only if it’s done properly.”
Numerous organizations have been focusing on rejuvenating the spirit of Chennai through its walls. Making street art and graffiti is popular all over the world and is said to bring people from diverse backgrounds together for their love for art. Artists and citizens of Chennai have often come together to make street-art and promote social causes as well as beautify the city. Here, we explore a few street-art created across Chennai city during various occasions in the past.
#ConquerTheConcrete campaign was celebrated by Goethe-Institute Chennai and Max Mueller Bhavan in collaboration with Chennai City Connect in 2015 to rejuvenate public spaces. A few street art creations during this campaign are highlighted here:
1. Twin dragons art by Amitabh Kumar: This painting done by Amitabh Kumar is located just outside the airport premises in Chennai. Set in a ravishing blue background, the dragons symbolize fearlessness, modernity and abstractness of the city’s beauty. This painting is sure to catch the eyes of anyone who drives by the pillar.
2. Street Art by Look, from Berlin titled ‘Tigers from Space’ near Sathyam Cinemas: This painting, also done as part of #ConquerTheConcrete campaign, depicts an imaginary thought of how it would look like if tigers travelled to space. In this fast paced scientific world, anything can happen. So, here is a loud thought from the Berlin artist that could come true anytime in the future.
3. Another street art painting by Look, hailing from Berlin as part of the #ConquerTheConcrete campaign. Location: Chennai Egmore railway station. The painting aims to depict a fusion of Indo-German thought processes into the art, primarily graffiti art, it symbolizes that public places see a mix of people and celebrates diversity.
4. A piece by Shilo Shiv Suleiman of Fearless Collective on Greenways road MRTS station as part of the campaign that aimed to make walls on the street and public places colorful and welcoming. A modernized version of old Tamil epics, the painting has characters from ancient literature voicing modern dialect. This street-art project also as carried out with the objective to raid public walls without prior permission fearlessly and fill them with engaging graffiti art. This practice is famous in countries like France and Germany.
5. Before the launch of the real #ConquerTheConcrete campaign, a pilot project was undertaken in 2014 to see what kind of response street art evokes among the citizens of Chennai. The response was quite overwhelming which inspired the team to expand their activities in 2015. Here is one such art project as part of the pilot drive, made by SatOne and Dhakshna
6. ‘Life’ can be represented in multiple ways but mostly life is symbolized as birth. But in this unique street art painting on life, the artist AxelVoid from Germany depicts old age as life. He tries to symbolize wisdom, experience and reality of life for some people in Chennai. This is at the Greenways Road MRTS station
7.Artists ‘Base23’ and M.P.Dhakshna created this beautiful street art at ‘thousand lights’ area as part of #ConquerTheConcrete project. This was done to portray fusion art and to see how two artists can create masterpieces on the same topic in their respective school of art process.
8. Not only do artists from across India and abroad take interest in reforming the walls of Chennai, but the city’s own college students along with art-inspired groups like ‘Paintbox’ find time to beautify the walls of their college with abstract as well as graphical depictions. This painting can be seen on the walls of Stella Maris College on Cathedral Road.
9. Paintbox and Anna University students painted the University walls with murals of trees along with the real trees in the foreground merging into the art, on Sardar Patel Road. The painting has elements of the habitat that is usually seen on that stretch of roads, inside Anna University premises and IIT Madras campuses.
10. This unique street art has been done inside the compound of Sathyam Cinemas by Shailesh BO of Paintbox. The painting looks like an abstract version of animals depicted in silhouette patterns, giving a different kind of perspective feel.
11. Another group named ‘Chitlapakkam RISING’, a self-formed group of volunteers who were interested in organizing cleanliness drives and clean-ups in and around the areas of Chromepet, Pallavaram, Chitlapakkam, Tambaram, etc. also do street-art painting drives during weekends. One of their paintings on the Pallavaram Flyover. Their paintings usually carry social messages and are painted by amateur artists. They also aim at preventing posters on the walls through this initiative.
12. Street art by ‘Candles’,a NGO on the walls of Anjugam Primary School in Choolaimedu. The group of volunteers drew Warli and Gond tribal paintings along with Bharathiyar Poetry. The project was done to keep away outsiders from parking illegally in front of the wall and to prevent film posters being stuck on the school wall. Alumni from WCC college also joined the team of volunteers
13. Artist Ranjit Dahiya painted the picture of actress Madhubala outside Casino Theater, to match the ambience of the cinema theatre giving it a retro feel.
14. Mural done by French Artist Thym’art Ducro at Besant Nagar aims at making the walls colourful with abstract art.
15. 3Ayem, a Moscow-based graffiti crew came to India last year for the project named ‘Indian steel’ that aimed at pure train bombing (Train graffiti) that is done without the consent of the government by sneaking into the yards. They managed to create art on suburban trains making them look funky and youthful.
16. Art at Government Primary School, Nandanam. This painting was done by school children, artists and volunteers of NalandaWay Foundation, an NGO to make schools and classroom atmosphere welcoming for children who study there.
17. Painting done by NalandaWay Foundation at one of the Government Primary schools to depict animals, thus promoting ‘learning through art’ which makes the process more inclusive and interesting for children.
18. Wall mural painting at Government High School, GKM Colony, Perambur done by school children and artists from NalandaWay Foundation. This painting was done to remove political and cinema posters from the school walls and make them inviting for children to attend school.
19. Another painting by NalandaWay Foundation’s artists, art instructors and school children. This painting aims to make the otherwise plain walls of Government schools colorful and artsy. This painting also has the names of the artists ingrained into the painting on top to praise the ownership towards the creation.
20. Community Art Project by NalandaWay Foundation to paint walls of the roads near Pachaiamman Kovil area behind Higginbotham’s Book Store on Mount Road. The artists of the NGO and the children from the area painted their streets as part of the art lab classes that were conducted for them by the NGO.