Art District

Lodhi Art District 2016

In January 2016, 30 renowned street artists from across the world had been invited by St+Art India Foundation to create the first art district of India. Lodhi colony became an open air gallery and a landmark within the city.

The colony, centrally located and easily accessible, is a govt. housing estate built in the late 1940’s by the British Raj. It exists today at walking distance from major landmarks such as Lodhi Garden, Nehru Stadium and India Habitat Centre. Its striking facades blend Indian architectural context to European influences, thus served as perfect canvases for the murals.

The project built a sense of community pride, encouraged maintenance of the neighborhood, enhance its visual identity while putting it into the global map. In a city with limited public spaces, Lodhi has become a public space open to everyone under the motto of #artforall

A glimpse of some artworks

‘The Tourist’ by Avinash and Kamesh, 2016 — The inspiration for this wall comes from the social media/smart phone revolution. While working in Lodhi colony, they observed how a lot of people came daily to click pictures of the murals and the ongoing work of the artists, taking selfies and group shots, or posing for fashion shoots. So the artists decided to turn the wall around on the viewer and comment as a comment on the selfie generation. (Photos: Akshat Nauriyal)
‘Rani Laxmi Bai’ by Lady Aiko, 2016 — Created by using a bright palette and 299 paper stencils in 2015, this mural is a representation of Rani Laxmi Bai at war against the British, with a sword in her hand and her child strapped to her back. One of the most significant historical icons in the freedom struggle of India, Rani Laxmi Bai is celebrated as a personification of women empowerment in the country, by old and younger generations alike and thus served as the inspiration for this artwork. (Photos: Akshat Nauriyal)
‘Lavanya’ by Hendrick ECB, 2016 — This is the portrait of Vimla, a lady that works at Old Khanna Market in Lodhi Colony where she sells ‘Paranthas’ (a type of Indian bread) on the streets; something which is rare for a woman of her social class. Painted in just black and shades of grey, this painting is meant to merge into the wall and the surroundings, imitating the aesthetic similar to an old etching. With the idea of transforming people from ‘anonymous’ to ‘iconic’ and with an attempt to capture their ‘aura’ in a painting, Hendrik feels he was blessed to get to know her and to have her consent for this mural. (Photos: Naman Saraiya,Akshat Nauriyal)
‘Dead Dahlias’ by Amitabh Kumar, 2016 — This mural is informed by a historical context of the site and the graphic possibilities that were available in this space. The image stems from the story of ‘Pandavas’ (the five brothers who fought in the famous battle of Kurukshetra in the great Indian epic – Mahabharata). It goes like this – In a game of dice played against their cousin brothers, the ‘Kauravas’, the Pandavas lost and were exiled to Khandavaprastha - the city of ruins. Lord Krishna - who accompanied them for the exile, by using his divine powers, turned Khandavaprastha overnight into Indraprastha – the city of Gods, which also happens to be the former name of Delhi. The mural depicts this city of magic, which is now crumbling apart. Through this intervention, the artist wishes the viewer to look at its crumbling pieces and vanish. (Photos: Akshat Nauriyal)
‘Original Aboriginal’ by Reko Rennie, 2016 — Reko Rennie worked in close collaboration with a team of Indian painters as part of his practice, which often foresees a dialogue with local communities and local art traditions. His work plays off dynamically, working through an amalgamation of contrasting cultural reference points, like traditional geometric patterning of the ‘Kamilaroi’ people, to New York graffiti, to Pop and abstraction. All these elements come together in a perfect harmony to create this mural that is now a living, breathing part of the bustling market place. (Photos: Akshat Nauriyal,Kajol)
‘Amma’ by Blaise, 2016 — For his mural in Lodhi Colony, Indian artist Blaise Joseph chose to make the portrait of a mother figure – a word that has diverse manifestations. As Mother Nature, she is carrying the memories of lost lands in an urban context. Our cities which are becoming concrete jungles are inhabited, by people who are all, in some ways migrants and hence the concrete jungle reminds them of their own mothers and also, Mother Nature as represented in forests and agricultural lands, who they have been compelled to leave behind. She also represents indigenous communities who are pollinators and can sustain ecological diversity with the knowledge they possess, yet who are forced to be displaced from their homelands in the name of progress. The mother painted in this artwork is in the image of the artists’ own mother, who currently resides in Kerala. (Photos: Akshat Nauriyal, Namann Saraiya)
‘Don't Let This Symbolism Kill Your Heart’ by Nafir, 2016 — The inspiration behind this artwork comes from the struggle and status of women's rights, as existing in the eastern parts of the world. A resident of Iran, the artist feels that Iran and India are countries that share a collective stance in the world, where women are subjugated as part of their cultural and traditional thought, and that the struggle for her rights is ongoing in both countries, as important movements that continue to shape the discourse, as highlighted in this mural – through a brutally honest symbolism. (Photos: Naman Saraiya)
‘Order In Chaos’ by DALeast, 2016 — India is a fast developing country that also simultaneously remains in shambles of chaos and disorder. During his travels throughout the country, DALeast discovered and tried to bring his understanding of the true essence of life in India into his artwork. This incredible mural represents the ‘order in chaos’ perception of the artist where he has depicted how everything moves fast and forward, but it works despite the chaos. (Photos: Akshat Nauriyal)
‘Padma’ by Chifumi, 2016 — ‘Mudras’ in Indian culture and religions hold a prominent and spiritual significance – they are symbolic, ritualistic gestures used in Yogic practices, Buddhism and Hinduism to regulate the flow of ‘prana’ (life) in our bodies. Inspired from the ‘Padma Mudra’ - a symbolic hand gesture that forms into a lotus, mixed with Khmer patterns from Cambodia where the artist currently resides, Chifumi brings two cultures and their traditional histories together in a perfect unison. (Photos: Akshat Nauriyal)
‘From Your Strength, I Weave Beauty’ by Shilo, 2016 — Sheilo runs ‘The Fearless Collective’ which uses art to speak out against gender violence. The ‘Sewing New Future’ team engaged women subjected to trafficking in the Najafgarh Community in a participatory process to help bring this piece to life. Such artworks seek to inspire and empower the women of these communities to ‘be fearless’ in the face of their struggles. (Photos: Pranav Gohil)
‘Time Changes Everything’ by Daku, 2016 — This typographic piece ingeniously visualizes the concept of time by playing with letters which cast an evolving shadow through the day, speaking metaphorically of all the things in life which change over time. The rotation of the sun around each day will change the visualizing effect of these letters and their shadows, thus reflecting on the concept of the illustration quite literally. (Photos: Akshat Nauriyal, Pranav Gohil)
‘How is Global Warming’ by Gaia, 2016 — Gaia’s inspiration for this mural comes from the exploration of the impact of green house gasses and global warming on our society and planet. Using the arch of the wall, he made the ‘Shish Gumbad’, known as the glass dome in the Lodhi colony area, right in the center of the composition. Behind it, a Victorian botanical garden plays with the concept of greenhouse gases; this pairing is flanked by two hands emerging from the water signifying hope and despair. On either sides of the wall, the artist has painted one inflated globe and one deflated globe, to show the effects that globalization has on our planet. (Photos: Akshat nauriyal)
‘We Love Dilli’ by Lek&Sowet, Hanif Kureshi, 2016 — This wall in Lodhi represents an interesting collaboration between French artists Fred Visualek & Sowat Da Mental Vaporz and Indian artist Hanif Kureshi. Lek & Sowat were intrigued by the idea of collaborating with Indian hand-painters and wanted to use a lot of colour in their work. Post discussions with Hanif, Sowat decided to paint characters resembling Sanskrit letters to form a base, which Lek would then half erase with water to create an effect they describe as 'colour rain', drawing inspiration from the festival of Holi. After speaking with the children of the community who play cricket at their site every day, they decided to write the text 'We love Dilli' in Hindi, which Hanif then painted on top of their Sanskrit ciphers to create an artwork which everyone in the neighborhood could relate to and enjoy. (Photos: Akshat Nauriyal, Naman Saraiya)
‘Vishvaroopa’ by Inkbrushnme, 2016 — In this piece Inkbrushnme continues to explore concepts of Indian mythology, which are a recurring theme in his work. Vishvaroopa is an all-encompassing omnipotent form of Vishnu and marks the beginning of the 18-days battle of Mahabharata. Vishnu manifests in his cosmic grandeur in the beginning of the battle, in front of Arjuna, the supreme warrior, to show him that all universal matter, animate and inanimate is simply Him, in other life-forms. (Photos: Akshat Nauriyal,Naman Saraiya)
‘Dreams of India’ by Gabriel Specter, 2016 — The mural depicts a spectator’s viewpoint on the complex multiplicity of Indian religion and spirituality, which remains shrouded in doubts and confusions in this society. Religion remain to this day, a controversial and extremely sensitive topic of discussion within various communities of this country, where even though people exist in harmony with each other for the most part, and yet the uncertainties surrounding the religious ethnicities of each person tend to lead to prejudice and turmoil. The drawn stage curtains in the image reveal a transcendental gateway, which is formed around the central arch representing the link between reality and a dream-like state. (Photos: Pranav Gohil)
‘Facing Walls’ by Bicicleta Sem Freio, 2016 — Usually Douglas and Renato work as a duo às Bicicleta Sem Freio (Bicycle without Brakes). However, here, for the first time, they worked on two individual walls facing each other, inspired by the local Indian flora and fauna. The murals are filled with life and colour, while ameliorating the overall landscape and scenery of the neighbourhood. (Photos: Akshat Nauriyal, Renato)
‘Miniature Painting’ by Mahendra Pawar, 2016 — This ‘Miniature’ painting, which was a popular style of wall murals during the Mughal rule in India, is in continuation of St+art India Foundation's endeavour of being inclusive of indigenous and traditional art forms, in collaboration with international street artists to create India's first Public Art District. This beautiful mural can be found opposite Khanna market in Lodhi Colony. (Photos: Pranav Gohil, Akshat Nauriyal, Naman Saraiya)
‘PINK’ by Dwa Zeta, 2016 — For their wall mural in Lodi Art District, Dwa Zeta chose abstract forms referring to the flow of Delhi streets which reflect their impressions of the hectic, crowded, yet potent and vibrant nature of the city. Experiencing a lack of feminine equality in the flow of the city, they chose bright pink as the main colour for their wall to figuratively mark the feminine element in a public space, and to pay tribute to women who are afraid of being visible, with a motive to empower them and motivate them to establish the city as their own. (Photos: Akshat Nauriyal)
‘Katha Crazy Twins’ by Harsh Raman, 2016 — Through this piece, Harsh Raman merges the ancient Indian Art of ‘Kathakali’, a storytelling dance form prominent in Southern India, which uses gestures and no words, with today’s medium of no words - street art. By combining two different art forms of narration and story-telling, this mural seeks to comment on the power of sight and movement, which creates narratives through mediums other than language. (Photos: Naman Saraiya)
‘Sans Serifs, No Letters’ by Shoe, 2016 — Being a writer for over 35 years, Shoe finally did something he has never done before - paint a poem written by him – by way of mixing up all the influences he has had over the years to create this mural, the artist used his passion for lettering, mixed with ‘Calligraffiti’ - an technique he developed and pioneered, along with his love for plants. The plants came in the form of the traditional Indian brooms available at every corner shop, made of grass, which he used extensively in the painting of this mural. He feels that the plant the broom was made with magically shows its true nature within the artwork itself! (Photos: Akshat Nauriyal)
‘See Through/See Beyond’ by Nevercrew, 2016 — Nevercrew is a Swiss duo, Christian Rebecchi and Pablo Togni, whose work examines the human condition with a focus on the relationship between mankind and nature. In Lodhi Colony they painted a colourful meteorite with an astronaut on top of the wall. The astronaut atop the wall is a metaphor for someone who has the ability to see things from a different perspective, as a silent spectator of a much larger picture. In this case, he is a witness to all the daily activities of the colony. (Photos: Naman Saraiya)
‘The Origin of the World’ by Borondo, 2016 — In this piece, Borondo uses the facade of Lodhi to create a transcendental illustration based on classic architecture. The location of the mural is opposite to a maternity hospital, and serves as the perfect inspiration for the subject behind this artwork where Borondo, in his signature abstract style, interprets and tries to depict the concepts of life and birth. The open arch in the middle of the wall and the tree which inhabits it, become a metaphor for the origin - the source of life, while a river flows through the arches with a boat, symbolizing the journey of life, as flowing from its birth. Borondo regards this entire scene as being synonymous with the birth of a child, who has to pass through a mother's womb to begin its journey, and then flow ahead. In this regard, the artist brings out beautifully, a representation on the wall, of what goes on in the space opposite to it. (Photos: Naman Saraiya, Pranav Gohil)
‘Swachh Bharat’ by Painter Kafeel, 2016 — ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ as represented at India's first ever Public Art District for St+art Delhi 2016 in collaboration with Central Public Works Department and Ministry of Urban Development by Painter Kafeel and his team of Sign Painters. (Photos: Pranav Gohil, Naman Saraiya)
‘The Lotus’ by Suiko, 2016 — In this piece, Suiko takes the national flower of India - the Lotus, and re-imagines it with his signature expression of curved lines and Japanese characters to create this mural for the Lodhi Art District. Being a pioneer of the graffiti movement in Japan, Suiko explores newer ways of writing his name, which is a constant element in all his figurative compositions. By incorporating the tones and colours of the neighborhood, Suiko left behind a wonderful gift for the people of this community. (Photos: Akshat Nauriyal)
‘Colors of the Soul’ by Senkoe, 2016 — Across several cultures, birds are considered a symbol of diversity, identity, peace and freedom. Often migratory travelers, they are also creatures that see and experience many different places/things and have a lot of stories to tell. Inspired by the beauty of nature and these majestic creatures, Senkoe painted these birds in Lodhi colony to represent the colourful diversity of the people who live there and to encourage them to communicate with each other by sharing stories, just like birds do. (Photos: Akshat Nauriyal)
‘The Lava Tree’ by Anpu Varkey, 2016 — Anpu continues to push her boundaries as an artist by exploring newer forms in her work, like this mural in Lodhi Colony. From the deep recesses of a dreamscape, perpetuating like the flow of lava, the tree posits to consume the entire building, shadowing the menace of our minds. (Photos: Akshat Nauriyal)
‘Fusion Art’ by Rakesh Kumar Memrot, 2016 — Inspired from his explorations with Gond Art – which is a form of folk and tribal painting, predominantly existing in the ‘Gond’ community existing in Central India, Rakesh Kumar Memrot created this mural in Lodhi colony as a dedication to this form of art, which is prominent in Indian indigenous artistic culture and has sustained itself over years through the participation of its community in recognizing and popularizing it across the country, in different sectors of art and crafts. (Photos: Akshat Nauriyal, Naman Saraiya)

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