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Through the infusion of our traditional heritage with modern styles, Indian artists have created impactful wall art and installations, leaving a legacy that the community can appreciate together.

The accessibility to modern art, for the most part, is limited to private exhibitions, art gallery showings, or museums. While understandable for rare and classic collections, the average person had limited access to any form of artistic expression in an increasingly sedentary and compartmentalised world.

 

The mindset was always challenged, even as far back as 1939, where the precursor to street art and graffiti emerged during World War II. It would only be years later that the stigma of vandalism and protest would be removed, and governments and artists would collaborate to develop wall art and installations to contribute to the community and inspire a new generation of artists. Similarly, the history of street art in India was primarily linked to signage or as a mode of advertising for popular movies or political parties. With the advent of digital printing, these handmade signs and wall art started to fade out of existence.

 

However, due to the artist community’s efforts, there has been a resurgence of street art and installations in modern India, and it grows steadily in the spirit of preservation, expression, and inspiration.

 

We have listed 15 influential artists that have brought wall art to the forefront for Indian audiences to consume and enjoy.

1. A-KILL

Wall Art by A-KILL

 

A-KILL is a street artist and graffiti writer based out of Chennai, India. His pieces use an illustrative and figurative approach to depict people and scenarios he encounters on the streets and everyday life. With a flair for realism, he uses the medium of photography to capture and study his subjects before creating an artwork. Alongside stylised renditions of his street tag, his body of work features the technique of portraiture prominently. Through this practice, the artist aims to create a strong and authentic street art culture in India.

 

Wall Art by A-KILL

 

Cyberpunk, neon and realism are words that scream out loud when you check out the work by Chennai’s A-Kill. His work oscillates between representing realistic portraiture on minimal graphic backgrounds all the way to extremely layered and busy graffiti and sketch style pieces. When it’s all said and done, A-KILL’s work is extremely influential to the authentic street art culture scene in India.


2. Amitabh Kumar

Wall Art by Amitabh Kumar

 

Wall Art by Amitabh Kumar

 

Amitabh is a Bangalore based designer and artist whose murals feature an engaging brushstroke style that leads to bold and textured pieces that appear to have their own kinetic energy. The pieces vary in theme but have covered the battle between urbanisation and nature, urban revitalisation and responsibility. Amitabh has also co-curated an experimental art space during his time at Sarai Media Lab.


3. Anpu Varkey

Wall Art by Anpu Varkey

 

Wall Art by Anpu Varkey

 

The unsung hero of the Mahatma Gandhi piece that arguably put street art on the map for India, Anpu Varkey has created large murals and organised street art festivals since 2011. The Delhi-based artist may develop abstract interpretations of nature, humans and landscapes, but all her pieces ring true with a nostalgia that the viewer can easily resonate within a personal way.


4. Avinash Kumar

Wall Art by Avinash Kumar

Wall Art by Avinash Kumar

 

Another artist from Gujarat, Avinash Kumar, has a truly unique style. His work is vibrant and witty and jumps between hyper-realism, caricature and geometric styles. A project of note was the “Donate a Wall” campaign in Shillong run by Asian Paints and St+Art India, where Avinash painted a mural on the side of the Rajsthan Vishram Bhawan with a fusion piece bridging the two localised cultures together.


5. Hanif Kureshi

Wall Art by Hanif Kureshi

 

Hanif began training at hand-painted typography at a very young age on license paints and signs. Over time, he was slowly exposed to the other aspects of art and design, which led him on a path to become an influential artist on India’s installation and street art platforms.

 

Wall Art by Hanif Kureshi

 

With the intention to reclaim the streets from random advertising and a lack of artistic character, he co-founded the St+art India Foundation, a non-profit organisation whose mission is to drive social change and break down cultural barriers through street art. Hanif helps make the street culture better understood by the government and citizens alike while inspiring artists of tomorrow.


6. Harshvardhan Kadam

Wall Art by Harshvardhan Kadam

 

Harshvardhan Kadam is half of a duo of contemporary visual artists (the other being his brother) called “Ink Brush n Me”. His spatial experiences are rooted in a surreal and abstract style but have clear messages about the intricacies of human life or are pieces with a cultural significance linked with Indian mythology.

 

Wall Art by Harshvardhan Kadam

 

His public art project, SEWD (Searching for Empty Walls Disorder), transforms unused urban spaces into public art landmarks. The project has taken him across India and other places in the world “to create graphic poems and murals on empty spaces and give them a distinct character.”


7. Jas Charanjiva

 

Jas Charanjiva is an artist and muralist who flies the flag for underground street art with a quirky, hand-drawn pop style and counter-culture rebellious themes. She is a self-taught artist who was heavily influenced by skater culture in California at a young age, leading to a body of work that inspires social change by highlighting imbalances in society.

 

Jas co-founded Kulture Shop, a platform that highlights indo-global artists and makes their thought-provoking work accessible and affordable.


8. Munir Bukhari

 

Munir Bukhari’s street art represents the best of society around us in an impressionistic style. He often collaborates with the St+Art Foundation apart from commissioned interior projects. Munir is most known for his “Heroes” series that depict civil, medical, and other integral workers and celebrates their contributions to society.


9. Nilesh Artist

 

 

Nilesh’s story is one of sacrifice in the pursuit of passion. Leaving his home and family at a young age to escape the orthodox norms to which he was subjected, he made his way to Pune and saw himself through a fine arts education. His murals usually depict characters and personalities of cultural prominence in India, but occasionally he produces anthropomorphised and surreal work leaving the viewer spellbound. Nilesh frequently collaborates with the St+Art Foundation, where his contribution to the Dadasaheb Phalke piece brought him to the forefront of the street art movement.


10. Nikunj Prajapati and Siddharth Gohil

 

 

The Gujarat-based duo has made waves in India’s street art community after their work for the Sassoon Dock Art Project and the Lodhi Art District via the St+Art Foundation. Playful abstraction, cartoon graffiti, and some realism sum up their style, and their art leaves us wanting more.


11. Ranjit Dahiya

 

A professional UI designer, Ranjit Dahiya, craved an outlet for his artistic passion. An avid fan of Indian cinema, his entry into street art began with founding the Bollywood Art Project (BAP), where he creates large murals of celebrities in a classic retro poster style.

 

 

An extension of the effect of BAP is in his media startup called Digital Moustache, which bridges the gap between rural lives and technology. A noteworthy project is the artistic transformation of Ranwar Village, which, thanks to Ranjit’s work, is a vibrant street art hub that stands with the best street art locations globally.


12. Rakesh Kumar Memrot

 

Rakesh, who also goes by the alias “M86”, is a mural and fine artist from Delhi who simply loves working on large scale areas versus smaller canvases. His work often depicts nature settings and wildlife in his folk art and geometric style, and he enjoys the challenge of developing work in outdoor settings where he has to contend with fluctuating weather conditions.

13. Sameer Kulavoor

 

 

A visual artist from Mumbai, Sameer Kulavoor’s pieces comment on consumerism, the state of artisans, popular digital trends and urban development. He explores the impact of culture, politics and economics on our surroundings. Sameer takes a keen interest in sifting through typical human behaviour to shine a light on social responses that are often taken for granted.


14. Sajid Wajid Shaikh

 

 

A self-taught illustrator and designer, Sajid’s creative exploration is not bound by medium or visual references to the world. This Mumbai artist experiments with shape, colour, and line as a form of self-expression.

 

Sajid’s work ranges from micro-graffiti pieces depicting abstract human form to large scale murals with themes like feminism, harmony, and community.


15. Shilo Shiv Suleman

 

Shilo Shiv Suleman proudly carries the banner of social justice while wielding art and technology. Her mural art, via magical realism, start conversations around the injustices against gender and sexuality all around the world with the sole intention to reclaim areas, both physical and mental, overridden with fear and negativity.

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Marc, Claudio and Nicola came together to create the larger than life collaboration, Art of Sool. They talk to us about their passions, challenges and future plans.

Marco, Claudio and Nicola, the artists of Art of Sool, had always been interested in art. But it was only during their undergrad at the Academy of Fine Arts did they join forces. Fortunately for them, drawing was a natural instinct that turned into their career.

Art of Sool - Collaboration

In 2010 the crew, Art of Sool was formed. While hunting for the right name, they decided to pick something that connected with them. They chose the word ‘soul’ and turned the ‘u’ into an ‘o’, to make it theirs. In the end they found something unique, personal and quirky, just like their art.

Art of Sool - Collaboration

They work on a wide range of media. Some of the media include wall graffiti, canvas, wood, t-shirts prints and so much more. The process for each media is intricate, and they work with meticulous care.

Art of Sool - Collaboration
Art of Sool - Collaboration

Speaking of their work, the artists take great pleasure in working with brands. Even if the project is difficult or rigid they take it up for the visibility. Between these projects, they like to do their personal work as this gives them the freedom to express and explore freely. It also helps them evolve their technique. With their personal projects, they try to communicate their messages in unique ways, messages that are otherwise restricted by social norms.

Art of Sool - Collaboration
Art of Sool - Collaboration

Establishing the Art of Sool did not come easily though. The first big challenge they faced was to live by what they did, and then to monetize it, something they still struggle with. The other challenge was being recognised for their style. They hustled with many gigs pushing their work through different media like t-shirt print, graffiti and canvas. Slowly and steadily with the network they became known.

Art of Sool - Collaboration
Art of Sool - Collaboration

The third big challenge was being known on the world stage. Fortunately, they met Mr. Wany, a famous Italian writer, who invited them to Amazing Day, a famous jam in Milan. From then their work increased and there was no looking back. They plan to venture into e-commerce soon; this will probably be their new challenge.

Art of Sool - Collaboration


Art of Sool - Collaboration

Working collaboratively for years is not easy. The artists understand this and explain that the reason why it works for them is because they have learned to listen to each other and focus on the best solution. They believe in ‘freestyle of opinions’ and this helps them to work together.

The advice they would like to give young designers is to feel free and be yourself. Be brave, decide for yourself, keep thinking about what you want to become, and success will be yours.

Published in Issue 49

A Freelancer’s Life in India! Every day, with a dream of ‘Being Your Boss,’ many creative professionals jump into the pool of freelancing. But many are not well prepared for the life of the freelancer, which brings many challenges along with benefits. So to explore further, we interviewed many freelance illustrators and designers to get answers to the question you should ask before taking the final call of becoming your boss! So, if you are planning to or have already become a freelancer then this issue is a must-read for you.

 


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