Normally we associate Graffiti Artist with cities like New York, Paris, London etc. but here in Kolkata there seems be a new genre of graffiti artists who have taken the burden to cover the dark moss laden walls with colourful motifs. Walls here in Kolkata are usually used to graffiti’s of political parties, most of them are just political slogans or just an open canvas to slug on the opponent. Occasionally however there are some clever comic relief which again is more of a political satire. These were more prominent during the 80’s and 90’s and one of them that is still edged in my mind was a political cartoon about Fodder Scam where a cow’s head was replaced by the head of one of the accused politician and depicted him chewing on bags of money intelligently like fodder for the bovine.
Coming back to graffiti, off late while commuting between office and home I started coming across walls colourfully pained in different patterns, something which I have only seen on television and something only seen in New York Metro carriages and stations. These were very different from the typical Kolkata political graffiti’s, a complete new genre with modern art patterns and a prominent 3D art style which is something very new in this part of the world.
These new graffiti’s were in patches across different wall and one fine day I came across a small lane near Park Street where the entire wall on both the side of the lane were covered with brilliant graffiti. No cars can enter this lane and can only be covered by foot or on a bike, this may be the reason why the graffiti artist could play around easily and create masterpieces like these.
Some were typical 3D art with different words spray painted with shadow and emboss, some were elaborate animal figures with equally bizarre expression. These were done with such perfection that it looked as if it were digitally printed on the wall with perfect bordering and perfect scaling.
This was also the first time I could see them from such close distance, I parked my bike to the side and walked along the wall to see each of these wonderful creation in details. It was as if I were in some open air art gallery and artists from different corners expressing their vision on a wide canvas.
There was this Elephant with an out of the world expression, more like an Angry Bird or rather is should say Angry Elephant. I loved the eyes, you can see the vengeance in its eyes with drops of red which l guess resembled drops of blood.
The Donkey sticking out its tongue was really hilarious, with a stich on its cheek and wide popping eyes it looked really funny and quickly became one of my favourite. It somehow reminded me of Eeyore the donkey in the Winnie the Pooh series. The words SAK VCU in 3D and random pattern next to it makes this stand out.
Then there was the Grumpy Chimp, something similar I had seen earlier but seeing it so close had a different feel. You can clearly see the level of standard in these drawing on the wall, it looked so neat and crisp, something which most can’t even do on a piece of paper and these guys have done it on a wall.
The Brainless Man with a wink takes you to the funnier side of the graffiti followed by some random characters which adorn the different corners of the wall. Tucked in one corner were the words Hok Kolorob made famous by the student agitating at a university campus here in this city.
There are no fixed rules to graffiti, it can be a political message disguised inform of a cartoon or just basic rant against the society. Some are just an expression of the artist’s inner self. Some were simply meaningless lines but I am sure for the creator it meant much deeper.
Somewhere there could be seen a seamless merging of political graffiti and the more current art form, it made me wonder if the future of political graffiti could slowly start adopting this new style and create a complete new genre.
Most of these graffiti have been damaged due to the recent heavy rains and initially when I saw them pre monsoon they were much more vibrant and in a real good shape. Hope that this winter the walls of the Graffiti Wall Lane of Kolkata will get a fresh life and I will surely bring them to you in forms of photographs.
Many cities around the world has adopted the concept of Graffiti Art and have actively promoted the artists, some government has allotted special zones where this art form can be practised without any restriction. I would love to see similar zones here in Kolkata where there are many walls which would look wonderful with vibrant colours. I have seen some outside the walls of La Martiniere School, German Consulate, Apeejay School etc. but would love to see more and more such lanes dedicated to Graffiti Art.
There is also a thin line between Graffiti as an Art and Graffiti as vandalism, where some group is taking this as an art some take this as a way to destroy walls and other private property. The real graffiti artist never destroys but creates a new from the destroyed.
I do not know the artists thus if any of you know them then please ask them to get in touch with me, would love to speak to them and hear about their experience in painting these dead walls and bringing back to life.