Delhi streets become a canvas

Street artists are on a mission to transform Delhi's spaces during the Urban Street Art Festival.

Showkat Shafi | | Arts & Culture, Asia, India

Street artists are on a mission to transform Delhi's urban spaces.

The Indian capital is presently playing host to the Urban Street Art Festival by the St+art India Foundation.

This festival provides a shared platform on Delhi's walls and footpaths for not only street artists from India but for international artists as well. 

Often these art works and murals are just beautiful pieces of work but sometimes they are provocative and aim to shock viewers with their social or political messages.

German artist Hendrik Beikirch, who painted a mural of Mahatma Gandhi on the Delhi Police headquarters in 2014, returned this year. Beikirch painted a mural on an unused cement factory opposite one of the biggest rubbish-dumping sites in Tughlakabad.

“I have painted the common man of India and it took me five days to paint this. I have seen many rag-pickers at the rubbish-dumping site and this mural is dedicated to all those rag-pickers,” Beikirch said.  

“The street art revolution is pretty new and it’s very young in India. But people have been responding positively to street art.” 

The highlight of this year's festival is its marquee project, The Lodhi Art District.

The St+art India Foundation has been working in collaboration with the Central Public Works Department and Swachh Bharat Mission (cleanliness initiative) to convert an area of Delhi's Lodhi Colony into India’s first public art district.

“With each mural located within walking distance, the Lodhi Art District will be the first public space of its kind in the country," said Hanif Kureshi, cofounder and artistic director of the festival.

"Hopefully after its completion this will fuel the growth of street art in India and will also open up the idea of choosing public art as a career for the younger generation."


 READ MORE: The power of street art


A unique art space at the festival is the Work in Progress (WIP), a walk-through installation that has transformed the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Asia's largest dry port. More than 20,000 working hours and 24 artists from across the world have transformed the ICD, using more than 100 shipping containers and 1,000 litres of paint.

After the exhibition, the painted containers will resume transporting goods.

“The idea of WIP is to move from the usual concept of exhibiting art and going towards the concept of experiencing it," says Giulia Ambrogi, festival curator. 

"The environmental installation of 100 containers and the immersive site-specific art works lead the public to be part of an overall journey which connects art to life and life to art."

Follow Showkat Shafi on Twitter: @ShowkatShafi 

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