Art Districts

Lodhi Art District

Lodhi Colony, Delhi

2016 - ongoing

In the initial months of 2015, St+art began work on India’s very first public art district. Located in the capital, Lodhi Colony is now known to the city, and the country, as Lodhi Art District. A project that began with the painting of 2 murals today contains 60 artworks by renowned Indian and international artists. Lodhi Art District is premised on an open-air, public walk-through gallery model.

Setting the precedent for the country’s to-be art districts, Lodhi helped us experiment, understand, and considerably build on our vision of creating art projects in public spaces. It allowed us room to come out of the conventional art gallery space and onto the streets of the cities we inhabit, making art accessible to all. It helped us shape the definition of what a public art district could look like and be, giving us a model to be replicated with suitable contextual modifications in other cities of the country. As of today, St+art has created 6 art districts designed as open-air art galleries, with the aim to reimagine neighbourhoods in cities through urban art.

The reasons for choosing Lodhi Colony as the location for the country’s first art district are plenty. Not only is the colony centrally located, easily accessible and within walking distance from major landmarks such as Lodhi Garden, Nehru Stadium, and India Habitat Centre, but it is also pedestrian-friendly. With its large sidewalks and well-spaced buildings, the colony is an anomaly in the topology of the city, which hardly has any walking culture.

More so, the buildings are symmetrically placed on the broad streets, allowing the viewer to have a great visual experience of every art piece. The concrete structures also adorn interesting elements like arches and windows, which in turn play with the artwork similar to the rich and diverse greenery that characterises the area. The walls of the colony are also devoid of any visual noise, such as hoardings and large signboards.

Over the years, the project has built a sense of community pride in residents, encouraged the maintenance of the neighbourhood, enhanced its visual identity, while also putting it on the global map. In a city with limited public spaces, Lodhi Art District is now open to everyone under the motto of art for all.

The Lodhi Art District began to take shape a year prior to St+art’s 2016 Festival. The idea of exploring Lodhi Colony as a potential space for doing a larger intervention had been planted in 2015 with the help of 2 artists - Lady Aiko from Japan, and DALeast from China.

The walls painted by Lady Aiko and DALeast in 2015 gave an understanding of the scope of larger projects in the neighbourhood, and also an insight into the response of the local community, which was mostly positive.

Lady Aiko Lodhi St Art 2015 2
Lady Aiko (Japan) Rani Laxmi Bai This piece was created using a bright palette and 299 paper stencils in 2015. Rani Laxmi Bai is a symbol of women empowerment across the country and the artist wanted to showcase this.
Daal East Finished 1 Print
DALeast (China) Order in Chaos Travelling through India, DALeast experienced the ‘order in chaos’ that is synonymous with the country. Drawing inspiration from that notion, he combined it with the philosophies of Buddhism to create a piece that speaks about the journey towards Nirvana — a flock of birds swarming and clamouring to get to the central arch, some make it, some fall by the wayside. The imagery is also a metaphor for the depleting number of spaces for birds and animals in urban cities and their will to survive within these unnatural settings.

In 2016, we began the mammoth task of creating 26 artworks across 10 blocks of Lodhi Colony that would showcase some of the best artists and most diverse styles of the global urban art movement, while also providing a platform for traditional Indian art forms.

In the 2016 edition of St+art Delhi, 30 of the best street artists from across the world were invited to create artworks in this colony, simultaneously establishing it as an open-air, public art gallery.

The artists brought diverse stories and themes to the district - from talking about identity issues and gender politics to shedding light on climate problems. Staying true to the traditional nature of urban art, a lot of the artists used architecture and location as their muse.

Some works went beyond visual art and involved various communities in the most intimate and delicate ways.

As a result, amongst others, the project encouraged other creative individuals to express themselves. On any given day, you can find people recording videos against the artworks, doing photoshoots, conducting independently-led tours, or just clicking selfies. Throughout the course of creating the murals, the ground crew kept expanding - first with kids from the surrounding slums, who often follow the artists becoming their impromptu assistants, to gradually the elders of the colony and shop owners, who would often be found conversing with or bringing chai to the crew. People from different parts of the city and various colleges also came to be part of the reverie.

Avinash Kamesh Reveals Lodhi Art Dist St Art Delhi 2016 Akshat Nauriyal
Avinash & Kamesh (Gujarat, India) The Tourist -Jor Bagh Road The inspiration for this artwork comes from the social media and smartphone revolution. While working in Lodhi Colony, Avinash and Kamesh observed that a lot of people came every day to click pictures of the murals and the artists, while also taking selfies and group shots, or posing for fashion shoots. With this mural, the duo turned the lens towards the viewer, as a comment on the selfie generation and on the nature of street art as well. This art movement, in fact, has become so ‘trendy’ due to its openness, that its captivating visuals have inundated social media, making this phenomenon as popular on the web as it is on the streets.
We love Delhi Lek And Sowat final lodhi Colony Photo Akshat Nauriyal
Lek & Sowat (France) and Hanif Kureshi (India) We Love Delhi - Block 8, Lodhi Colony Before they landed in India, Lek & Sowat were intrigued by the idea of collaborating with Indian sign painters but also 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 then half-erased with water to create an effect that they describe as 'colour rain', drawing inspiration from the festival of Holi. After speaking with the children of the community who played cricket at the block every day, they decided to write the text 'We Love Delhi' in Hindi that Hanif painted on top of the Sanskrit cyphers to create a piece that everyone in the neighbourhood could relate to and enjoy.
Hendrik ECB Reveals Lodhi Art Dist St Art Delhi 2016 Naman Saraiya
ECB Hendrik (Germany) Lavanya (Grace) - Old Khanna Market This is the portrait of Vimla, a lady that works at Old Khanna Market in Lodhi Colony where she sells paranthas (Indian bread) on the streets. Executed just in shades of grey, the painting is meant to merge into its surroundings, seeking an aesthetic similar to an old etching. Captivated by her sense of resilience and commitment, Hendrik dedicated the piece to women who have several struggles in their lives and have to perform multiple roles, yet they maintain the utmost grace in all their endeavours. The mural is also a reminder to seek beauty in the ordinary.
Daku Reveals Lodhi Art Dist St Art Delhi 2016 Pranav Gohil
DAKU (India) Time Changes Everything Inspired by the Egyptian sundials, Daku used shadow as a medium to talk about the ephemeral quality of our existence. This installation piece is made up of cut out words mounted across the wall. This whole typographic based piece comes to life with a play of shadows that originate through the rays of the sun during the day. At night or during a cloudy day, the wall stands barren as it was before, poetically showing how all things in life are controlled by nature and hence change over time. Ironically, this piece is not just changing every day due to the sun, but also due to other external agents. The pigeons, in fact, have made the mounted words their favourite sitting spot, making them slowly crumbling down. All the words, which were once chosen by Daku for their ever-changing attributes, are literally vanishing over time.
Senkoe Reveals Lodhi Art Dist St Art Delhi 2016 Akshat Nauriyal
SENKO (Mexico) Colours of the Soul To Senko, birds are migratory travellers who are keepers of secret stories. In a city where nature is slowly disappearing and streets are becoming homogenous with concrete buildings, Senko wanted to create an imaginative portal for the residents of Lodhi. Three birds adorned in intricately stencilled Mexican patterns are painted on this wall. Each symbolises the diversity that connects us with one another, making Earth a sacrosanct landscape. The artist played with the architecture of the wall, by painting one of the birds in a metaphorical dialogue with the tree that emerges from the arch. While a galaxy shines through its eyes, the bird holds a heart in the beak, embodying the essence of life: freedom.
Never Crew Reveals Lodhi Art Dist St Art Delhi 2016 Naman Saraiya
Nevercrew (Switzerland) See Through / See Beyond In our society structured on the expansion of power conquest of the final product, the origin of things and their history is often put aside. The reasons are confused and diluted over time, making past and present less readable and more turbid. Nevercrew depicted this sense of disconnection with a spaceman, floating above an odd moonscape, adrift yet desperately seeking connection. This astronaut also acts as a symbol of one of the ultimate achievements of mankind. He, in fact, has seen beyond the limits of what was once visible. By putting him on not only on the meteorite but above the arch of the building they create an unexpected opening, encouraging the viewer to "see-through and see beyond". Imagination is one of the most powerful tools to build a better world.
Shoe Reveals Lodhi Art Dist St Art Delhi 2016 Akshat Nauriyal
Niels ‘Shoe’ Meulman (Netherlands) Graffiti is the weed of art The piece features a poem Shoe wrote himself. Being a writer (of graffiti) for over 35 years, Shoe decided to mix up all the influences he has had over the years to create this piece. SANS SERIFS NO LETTERS / AND NO WORDS TO READ / SANS WORDS NO SIGNS / NO NAMES IN THE STREETS / JUST ROWS OF BUILDINGS / AND GARDENS SANS WEEDS Written in his signature exuberant typography, using a rubber squeegee, Shoe reflected on the nature of Graffiti and Street Art. Cities are ever-growing and alienating with their grey buildings and dull environments, while street art was born out of this system to change its landscape. Street art like nature, humanises our built environment, bringing surprises, joy while stimulating care for our surroundings. Building on this association between the art form and nature, Shoe painted the colourful pastel background with local brooms. Unlike in Europe, these brooms are created using real twigs from trees. So one can say that Shoe used nature to paint this mural, originating a vision to create a sustainable ecosystem while spreading art.
Blaise Reveals Lodhi Art Dist St Art Delhi 2016 Akshat Nauriyal
Blaise Joseph (Kochi, India) Amma Blaise chose to paint a portrait of his mother, represented as mother nature who carries memories of forgotten lands. Surrounded by a rich assortment of flora, the figure manifests herself as the pollinator of ecology, the bearer of indigenous wisdom. Through this piece, Blaise also aims at narrating the story of migrants like himself, who have left behind this knowledge when moving into concrete jungles. The image of mother nature emerging on the concrete wall is a symbol of hope, reminding us that these traditions should be embraced before they disappear with the generations that are safeguarding them.
Don t let this symbolism kill your heart Nafir Full Wall Lodhi Photo by Naman Saraiya
Nafir (Iran) Don't Let This Symbolism Kill Your Heart • 2016 After spending a few days in Delhi, Nafir found similarities between the patriarchal traditions in Iran and India. This piece is a commentary on the condition of women in both countries, whose potentials are often suppressed due to orthodox customs and values. To depict this, the artist painted a giant silhouette of a woman whose face is covered with an intricate Persian textile pattern. This represents the contradiction within women's lives, who despite being the keepers of our cultural heritage, find themselves oppressed by it. Thus becoming too often a shadow in our society.
Vishvaroopa Inkbrushnme final lodhiartdistrict photoby Akshat Nauriyal
Inkbrushnme (Pune, India) Vishwaroopa Inkbushnme's Harshavardhan Kadam brought his project Mythopolis, under which he disseminates interventions all across India, in an attempt to connect the urban fabric with its ancient origin. Myths are still influencing our lives, yet many times we no longer recall them. In this mural, the artist frames Vishwaroopa, an all-encompassing omniform of Vishnu, who marks the beginning of the 18 day battle of Mahabharata. Vishnu manifests in his cosmic grandeur hypnotising Arjuna, the supreme warrior, and shows him that all universal matter, animate and inanimate is him. The artwork contains the various forms of this grandeur - from Matsya the fish to Varaha, his boar avatar and even a few unexpected characters. The artist included new-age pop characters like Yoda and Darth Vader from Star Wars as a symbol of modern mythologies. Shining in hues of gold, this crossover of sagas creates a unique interpretation of Vishwaroopa. The artist intentionally left the bottom part of the mural blank for the viewer to become part of the making of contemporary mythology - old and new.
Harsh Raman Reveals Lodhi Art Dist St Art Delhi 2016 Akshat Nauriyal
Harsh Raman (New Delhi, India) Katha Crazy Twins Harsh Raman reimagined Kathakali, a traditional dance form from the South of India that synthesizes facial and hand gestures to narrate folk stories. A practice that traces back to 200 BCE, Harsh contemporised its imagery by mixing pop culture references from the 90s such as the Pac-Man video game, a stereo system, a vinyl player and of course Batman, in an attempt to connect with both local and global audiences across different generations. As the mural unravelled, many local children were energized by its playful aesthetic and joined the process of painting along with the artist. To keep the spirit of this spontaneous interaction alive, Harsh has left the lower part of the two characters’ bodies black as a chalkboard - an open canvas for the kids to draw and explore their creativity while feeling like an integral part of the Lodhi Art District.
Mahendar Reveals Lodhi Art Dist St Art Delhi 2016 Pranav Gohil
Mahendra Pawar (Samode, India) Miniature Painting From folklore to everyday life and to even modern inventions, the abandoned Havelis of Shekhawati are a living testament to this timeless art. Mahendra brought it to the walls of Lodhi by depicting plant-like arabesques coupled with geometric patterns that were usually painted on the spandrel section of the arches in the Havelis. Despite being in dialogue with Lodhi's Indo-European architecture, the craft was restored to its traditional essence, thanks to the precision at which Pawar created this intricate composition. Historically, Indigo in Shekhawati art was used in the pristine section of Havelis. Subverting these conventions, the artist decided to bring it to the streets of Delhi, contributing to the democratic ethos of this open-air gallery.
Dwa zeta Reveals Lodhi Art Dist St Art Delhi 2016 Akshat Nauriyal
Dwa Zeta (Poland) Pink Dwa Zeta chose abstract forms that reflect the flow and infrastructure of Delhi's streets - especially the flyovers and roundabouts. The composition is the result of their impressions of the hectic, crowded yet potent and colourful nature of the capital. The duo felt that the nature of the city was inherently masculine. To symbolically feminize public space, the duo painted the background in pink, a colour popularly associated with women. This is alluded to as a call for women and the marginalised to reclaim their space within the streets and establish the city as their own.
Gaia Reveals Lodhi Art Dist St Art Delhi 2016 Akshat Nauriyal
Gaia (USA) How is Global Warming When travelling across India, Gaia was researching globalisation and its effects on Earth. Due to activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, greenhouse gases are increasing in our atmosphere, allowing more heat to surpass and be trapped inside the planet. To depict this phenomenon of Global Warming, Gaia articulated a story where the planet is shown as an inflatable balloon, which eventually deflates. At the same time, two hands are seen drowning in the water, signifying despair due to the rising level of seawater. While as a symbol of hope, the artist juxtaposed the 'Glaze Dome of Delhi' - Lodhi Garden's Shish Gumbah - with the Victorian Glasshouse. Two structures, despite distinct cultural and historical contexts, converge on the arch, as the guardians of our urban ecology.
Anpu Reveals Lodhi Art Dist St Art Delhi 2016 Akshat Nauriyal
Anpu Varkey (Bangalore, India) Lava Tree While most facades in Lodhi have a section covered with at least one tree, Anpu's wall lay bare. The artist saw this as an opportunity to activate the passerby's subconscious - a powerful bank of memories, which we always carry with us. She painted a tree that seamlessly flows onto the arch. From the deep recesses of a dreamscape, perpetuating the flow of lava, the tree poses to consume the entire building, shadowing the menace of our minds.
Amitabh Reveals Lodhi Art Dist St Art Delhi 2016 Akshat Nauriyal
Amitabh Kumar (Bangalore, India) Dead Dahlias This mural is informed by a story about the city of Delhi taken from the Mahabharata, one of the two major Sanskrit epics of Ancient India. When the Pandavas lost the first game of dice, they were exiled into Khandava Van. Along with Krishna, who accompanied them in this journey, the Pandavas transformed the abandoned forest into the magical city of Indraprastha, The City of Gods - thought to be present-day New Delhi. Amitabh symbolised the crumbling forest as Dahlias, a flower that dies but blooms from the same bud in a motion of constant regeneration. Through this intervention, the artist wanted the viewer to catch the flower's falling pieces while being part of its restoration. A metaphor for present-day Delhi, which Amitabh feels is disintegrating but can still be regenerated. Public art in Lodhi Colony may be one of the signs of its rebirth.
Borondo Reveals Lodhi Art Dist St Art Delhi 2016 Akshat Nauriyal
​​Gonzalo Borondo (Spain) The Origin of the World From a close vantage point, this piece blurs with the artist's brush strokes blending over each other, becoming ungraspable at first. But when viewed from a distance, the artwork pulls the public's attention towards the hollow vault on the wall, unravelling a multilayered symbolism. Inspired by the Renaissance period, the artist painted an archway of classical columns with a vanishing point that leads to the vault of the facade. A red river flows in between and a boat floats over it, representing the journey of life as an eternal cycle. "The Origin of the World" also plays on the homonymy with a
Suiko Reveals Lodhi Art Dist St Art Delhi 2016 Akshat Nauriyal
Suiko (Japan) The Lotus Being a globetrotter like many street artists, Suiko deposits pieces that blend his unique style with elements from the context he is working in. In Lodhi, he intertwined the lotus - the national flower of India - with bold letters that usually form his tag. Written with curved lines and barely recognisable Japanese characters, the entire composition flows into a botanical garden infused with urban vibes. The rising sun, Japan's namesake, blends in to cast its pristine light, emanating this cross-cultural celebration through urban art.
Chifumi Reveals Lodhi Art Dist St Art Delhi 2016 Akshat Nauriyal
Chifumi (France) Padma In Cambodia, Chifumi started using hand gestures to communicate with the locals. Identifying it as a language of its own, he began using it in symbolic ways within his murals, to transcend cultural borders and language barriers. In Lodhi, the artist painted the Padma Mudra in the form of a lotus, the Indian symbol of purity and wisdom. Framed in Khmer patterns, which are reminiscent of Mughal aesthetics, the piece showcases an organic synergy between attributes from New Delhi and Cambodia. The colour palette takes inspiration from the walls of Lodhi itself: soft pink, which often merges with the shiny green surroundings. Thus Chifumi brings here, an exchange between neighbouring cultures and also between the mural and its surroundings.

Having been acquainted with the enormous potential of Lodhi Colony in 2016, works continued to be added to the art district in the following years.

In 2017, we invited Brazilian duo Bicicleta Sem Freo, who usually work together, to simultaneously yet individually paint two walls, facing each other. Canadian artist, Aaron Li-Hill also created a call for action by depicting the local realities of climate change in India and Canada.

Bicicleta Douglas Reveals St Art Lodhi 2017 Akshat Nauriyal 1
Gabriel Specter (USA) Dreams of India This mural invites the onlooker into a passage to spirituality, where India's diverse religions collide at the rare moment to become unified. The painted curtains reveal this gateway around the central arch, acting as the link between reality and a dreamscape, which connects the consciousness to the subconscious. This transcendental landscape responds to the imposing architecture of Lodhi, enhancing its theatricality by creating a visual that challenges perspective while seeming endless.

In 2018, artist Saner used his observations from his first visit to Old Delhi to create a piece that blends Indian and Mexican imagery. He depicted diverse flora and fauna in the mural to give expression to his belief that the natural world connects us together by giving us a spiritual understanding of life.

Saner Reveals Akshat 12
Saner (Mexico) Balance in Mind and Spirit Saner used elements he observed in his first visit to Old Delhi, creating an enchanting piece that blends Indian and Mexican imagery. In dialogue with the architecture, a man and a woman face each other, on both sides of the arched doorway, representing the order and balance in the universe. Their clothes and adornments identify Mexican and Indian traditions and create a bridge between the two cultures which share several similarities, such as indigenous spirituality, the relationship with nature and their affinity with colours. The diversity between the two countries is highlighted by the flora and fauna depicted at the bottom of the mural. This is an important motif for Saner as he believes that the natural world connects us, giving us a spiritual understanding of life. The open floral heart on top of the arch is a symbol of the togetherness that repeatedly appears within most of his murals also reminding us to channel self-awareness and perseverance in our daily life to find peace amongst each other

Artworks added during St+art Delhi 2019 contributed significantly to shaping the district’s present form. Today, the Lodhi Art District has 56 murals made by artists from 25 countries. A diverse artist representation ensured that concepts driving the artworks were equally varied to give us a peek into the present global zeitgeist.

On their maiden visit to the country and the neighbourhood, many international artists found themselves filled with wonder, encountering a world that was vastly different from theirs. India’s, especially New Delhi’s and Lodhi’s, myriad sights, smells, and histories inspired these artists’ pieces, who translated them into vibrant murals on the walls of the colony, representing their interpretation of our country’s culture.

Artists also incorporated architectural elements exclusive to the walls in Lodhi to fashion their artworks accordingly, or to highlight particular aspects of their piece. German artist Bond was so impressed by the nuances of Lodhi Colony’s walls that he painted his signature in synergy with their texture. Art collective Majlis Art Forum used the trees in front of their wall to convey a powerful message through their artwork, made in tandem with the trees.

To draw attention to a pertinent problem of the day, many artists chose to depict present ecological realities, not only of New Delhi but of cities across the world in their respective pieces.

The 2019 festival also witnessed the addition of augmented reality pieces in a public space for the first time. While reimagining public spaces, these pieces sought to engage their audience using the most contemporary forms of media. Several other pieces attempted to incorporate socially relevant themes like women empowerment, gender injustice, disappearing traditions, and the growing reach of social media in their conceptualisation and execution.

Yip Yew Chong Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 22
​​Yip Yew (Singapore) Impressions of Lodhi Singaporean muralist Yip Yew used his semi-realistic style to create a piece inspired by the sights, sounds and smells of Lodhi Colony. Using elements he chanced upon on a stroll across the neighbourhood market and the nearby Lodhi Garden - colourful shawls, the aroma of sweet masala chai (tea) and ‘mithaai’ (sweets), the artist wanted to trigger a sense of nostalgia for the passer-by. The piece also celebrates Lodhi Colony as a heartwarming neighbourhood in which community-living is still prevalent - a phenomenon that’s increasingly dwindling.
Nes Poon Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 15
​​NeSpoon (Poland) Delhi On the occasion of International Women's Day 2019, NeSpoon was invited to offer a tribute to womanhood through her work. During her first week in Delhi, she met women from Isha-e-Noor, an initiative by Aga Khan Trust for Culture, where women living in Nizamuddin Basti practice crafts like crochet and embroidery to secure livelihoods. Observing this to be an endearing intersection to her practice, the artist facilitated a workshop with the women, teaching them street art techniques such as stencil and spray painting while the women introduced her to their unique designs and their stories. NeSpoon revisualised these similarities between European and Indian crafts, specifically in regards to knitting, by giving it a contemporary urban dimension through this street art piece. While painting this ode, the artist was inspired by the red flowers of the cotton trees, which led her to paint her very first mural in colour.

This mural culminated on 8th March 2019 with a special program on this street featuring diverse voices to speak about and celebrate womanhood at large. The female folk singers of Kathputli Colony opened the event with songs about strength and freedom, while artist Sonia Khurana in conversation with curator Myna Mukherjee spoke about the role public art plays in amplifying feminist discourse for everyday people.

The same stage was shared by Tomasz Kozlowski, Ambassador of the European Union to India

and Lakshmi Puri, former Assistant Secretary-General at the UN and former Deputy Director of UN Women who joined in this celebration which was proudly supported by the European Union.

This vibrant program was attended by all - from government dignitaries to the local hawkers who work on this street every day - showcasing the perfect example of how public spaces can be utilised for public causes.

Corin Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 3
Corin Kennington and Harry Fieber (United Kingdom) ‘Untitled’ Given the harmonious intersection between their practices, Corin and Harry often collaborate on projects, such as this one in Lodhi. When they arrived in India, both of them were amazed by the hand-painted signages found on trucks, shops and billboards. Enlarging the colours within these signages at a city scale, the artist created an abstract landscape fluidly flowing on the facade of Lodhi. With the advent of digital printing, the sign-painting tradition - so rich in creativity and geographical specificity - is slowly disappearing. To comment on this, the duo purposefully made the landscape look digitally printed with finesse, devoid of the craft's unbound peculiarity.
Yoh Nagao Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 19
Yoh Nagao (Japan) The Light Fort Yoh Nagao transformed this block into a 'light fort'. With cultural references from Japan and India, the piece makes a place of harmony and togetherness. The artist visualised selected symbols from both countries into an assortment of colourful patterns. Looking at the Indo-Islamic visuals characteristic of the city of Delhi, he painted the Jaali (latticed screen). While mindful of his roots, he blended the spike-like patterns derived from the Ainu Tribe of Japan. Goddess Lakshmi’s hand superimposed on both sides of the arched doorway acts as a warm welcome into this fort. Thereby upholding the Indian tradition of Atithi Devo Bhava (The Guest is God). A confident red sun - the traditional Japanese national symbol - shines through the tree, fuelling energy and colour into the entire fort. A vision that brings forward the idea of the melting-pot and the importance of cultural exchange as a mind opener.
Daan Botlek Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 1
Daan Botlek (Netherlands) Belly Dance - The Reincarnation of R, G and B In Lodhi Colony, Daan addressed one of the most delicate and important themes of the history of art - the definition of the human body. By manipulating the human form, he transforms its purpose and scale to depict an infinite outcome in meaning and context, or what he would call “a game of relativism, proportions and curiosities”. Within this game, his characters emerge from their siblings’ bellies in a never-ending reincarnation cycle - also comically echoing the infamous condition of the ‘Delhi Belly’. Taking inspiration from blue skies, red flowers of cotton trees and the lush greenery around Lodhi, Daan painted them in the primary colours that make up our world constantly.
Andreco Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 2
Andreco (Italy) Climate Change 05 - Reclaim Air and Water in New Delhi Andreco’s ‘Climate Art Project’ focuses on primary environmental weaknesses in each territory where the interventions take place and then promotes the best possible solution for climate justice. In New Delhi, the artist’s focus was on pollution of the air and water bodies, which he translated into a mural and a participative parade in the Lodhi Colony. Andreco’s mural wraps the facade in a circular motion that showcases the transition of toxic emissions found within air and water into healthy clouds and wetlands. On the left part of the wall, the artist painted pollutant emissions, greenhouse gases and dust particles such as PM 10. He painted them using ‘Air Ink’, a unique black ink invented by MIT which repurposes real air pollutants into ink. To support the mural, he added infographics to the wall which were taken from studies by IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute) and CSE (Centre for Science and Environment). The statistics explore the correlation between rising temperatures and an increase in these pollutants over the years. From this left part, describing the current scenario, the composition flows to the right, where clean clouds and wetlands represent a hopeful future. A tree emerges from the middle of the arch, acting as a weapon to combat climate change and bring this future to life.
David Leitner Reveals Lodhi Colony St Aart 2019 Pranav Gohill 5
David Leitner (Austria) Untitled Through his work, David Leitner often explores the polarities that exist in urban cities and how they affect our surroundings. In New Delhi, he observed an abundance of age-old traditions still present in the folds of modern-day life, while simultaneously noticing the hazardous pollution caused by the incessant consumption of single-use plastics. Identifying this as a dangerous contrast, the artist depicted this reality in the mural we see in front of us. David optimised the 'visible' spots across the wall to leave visual cues where women dressed in traditional Sarees appear as the powerful keepers of our traditions and heritage, while their surrounding environment is seen at risk due to public negligence. When viewed from a distance, this monochrome composition may offer a moment of relief from the 'colourful chaos' of Indian streets. But its jarring details coupled with factual data such as “In India, out every 10 lakh plastic bottles bought, only 9% get recycled” and “8 Lakh plastic waste enters the sea every year” trigger a wake-up call for citizens to build local solutions for waste management.
H11235 Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 19
H11235 (Nepal) I am here H11235 decoded the ecological problem in the Yamuna river by juxtaposing an image of a goldfish with a plastic bottle. Over the years there has been an immense loss of natural habitat within the Yamuna - not only as a result of the rampant disposal of plastic and man-made materials but also with the introduction of alien species such as the 'Gold Fish' which have adversely affected the biodiversity of the river. To highlight this issue, the artist painted his signature digital look through striking brush strokes to strongly emphasize the contrast between the natural and the artificial, addressing the pertinent issue of river pollution in the Yamuna, situated in Delhi, and that of the country’s rivers at large. The image of the goldfish is broken down with a plastic bottle floating within it and a calligraphic text, ‘Ma yaha chu’ (I am here), is repeatedly layered onto the image. This text is written in a traditional ethnic script from the Newari community in Nepal, from which the artist draws his ancestry.
Aravani Art Project Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 14
Aravani Art Project (Bangalore, India) Trans Lives Matter - 2019 Aravani Art Project used this wall as a canvas for a tribute to some members of different trans-communities across the country who have contributed towards the upliftment of their peers. Diverse clothes' patterns and facial expressions characterise each one of them, almost inviting the viewer to get closer and discover their stories. At the same time, this diversity comes with togetherness, on this wall as in their fights, bringing forward the idea of inclusivity and unity which is at the base of Aravani's process. In an effort to consistently break the stigma against the trans community by engaging with diverse audiences, this mural was consciously realised in front of the N.P.CO-ED Senior Secondary School in Lodhi Colony. “As we painted over here for seven days, it was heartwarming to see so many mothers come up to us with positive responses as they waited for their children. Few were surprised, while many congratulated the women for their work and showed their support,” reflected Poornima. As one of the best examples of a participatory art project in the Lodhi Art District, 8 transwomen and several volunteers painted this mural together to break gender binaries and bring to the forefront resilient identities.
Manolo Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 19
Manolo Mesa (Spain) About Dreams and Reality By decoding histories that are both personal and collective, ceramics have been a constant case of study in Manolo’s work. They have slowly unravelled themselves as symbols of resistance to the homogenization of industrialised products. While studying the practice of hand-made ceramics intimately, Manolo acknowledged the figure of the woman as the forebearer of this tradition in India and across other countries. Often, the craft has flourished and been broadly celebrated, but what has often been left out are the real storytellers. Echoing this reflection, Manolo painted the image of a woman partially hidden by a pot. The image, almost magically repeated twice, activates a sense of recognition from the viewer while paying homage to the knowledge bearer - women all over the world - from whom he, and many others, have inherited this timeless craft.
Sajid Wajid Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 2
Sajid Wajid Shaikh (Mumbai, India) Shakti Sajid Wajid Sheikh and his team - Rajesh Bhadhreshwara and Mahesh Kamble - painted an ode to womanhood for the Lodhi Art District. The artist sapiently contemporise the Art Nouveau style, developing a piece with women portraits intertwined with natural elements. Women are seen as creators of life and likened to mother nature herself. The primary colours painted with diffused shading give the composition an enchanting flow in which every shape stands out with strength and elegance. The decision of locating this piece in front of N.P.CO-ED Senior Secondary School was a strategic one. Mothers who usually wait for their children to come out of the school could identify themselves within the mural. The artist thus invites the viewer, especially these women and their kids, to become part of this piece and celebrate motherhood. This artwork is part of a lane dedicated to women and gender diversity. Ahead on your left and on your right, you will find more.
Sameer Kulvoor Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 2
Sameer Kulavoor (Mumbai, India) Social Media Friendly Plants In this mural, Sameer Kulavoor depicts a new way of understanding algorithms in the 21st century. Algorithms were once a set of rules followed to solve calculations, or other problem-solving operations, especially by computers. Now algorithms form the basis of social media, which seem to have control over everything - from how we feel, the way we think, what we eat to even how we live. Over the years, certain plants seem to have gained popularity on social media and as a result, one can spot them everywhere - in cafes, homes, offices and even selfies. Depicting this observation, Sameer painted this composition where some individuals are seen photographing these plants, while others take selfies - now a very common sight in Lodhi Colony as well. The visitors of the art district have also been compulsively capturing street art, which, just like the plants, has become a viral subject on social media. In a clever and ironic twist, the artist highlights these low maintenance 'pretty-Pinterest plants' and their fast fashion character while playing with the public by giving out his piece for a photo so they can 'garner a few hundred likes' easily.
Georgia Hanif Reveals Lodhi Art District 2019 Pranav Gohil 6
Georgia Hill (Australia) and Hanif Kureshi (India) This Must Be The Place/Yahaan Georgia Hill began using the phrase, 'This Must Be The Place' as a tag on the streets in varied contexts to explore the sense of belonging communities have with their surroundings. In India, her collaboration with Hanif led her to a bilingual version of this statement. Embedded within this piece are the words 'Must' and the Hindi word 'Yahaan' (Here), both almost dissolved within the optical illusion created with radiating black and white lines. Barely recognisable, if and when readable, these words demand the viewer's effort to decode their meaning. The artists pose an invitation to the passerby, to zoom into the essence of our times - which is also the essence of Street art - the "Here and Now". You must be here to witness this piece and you must be fully present with your senses, to go beyond the reading and access the layered meanings of the words. As words are so entrenched within the culture they originate in, this piece becomes a meditation on 'Yahaan', which is often used to denote a time, a memory, a place.
Majlis Group Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 10
Majlis Art Forum (New Delhi, India) Gracious Heritage Fifteen artists from the collective got together to bring to life their first large public art mural. In a celebration of the pockets of greenery embedded within Lodhi’s landscape and Delhi at large, the artists created an artwork that establishes a dialogue with the trees in front of the wall, to paint a dream-like image that speaks about the city’s natural heritage. Drawn delicately on the wall, Asian elephants emerge in a giant yet soft presence. For the collective, these elephants are a larger metaphor of our natural heritage that is slowly fading away due to urbanization and the increase in pollution levels. Thus, this piece with its ‘inner beauty’ aims to connect with the viewer at a deeper level, reminiscing the richness of nature, often forgotten at everyone's disadvantage.
Do Khatra Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 10
Do and Khatra (Gujarat, India) Phases of Love Love, as understood in certain cultures, appears within three typical phases - the initial attraction, the state of everlasting togetherness, and the inevitable after - the breakup. While some may be familiar with these phases, what usually gets unacknowledged are the layers that appear in between, the ones that fade in and out as lovers progress their affair. Do & Khatra, therefore, created an indefinite landscape resembling an acid crumbling city with 3 main points of focus, which exemplify the three stages of love. A rooster and hen flirtatiously walk through, the act of togetherness is preserved by pigeons on signage, and modern-day Adam and Eve walk past each other as their affair ends. Through the usage of a brisk and sober palette of colours for the characters, the artists highlight the complex moods that reside within each phase, while the intense and vivid colours dripping into the abstract background, gives birth to a misty psychedelic paradise.
M Pravat Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 4
M Pravat (New Delhi, India) Walls are Transparent Interested in exploring the true meaning of spaces, the architectural element of 'Jaali' has been a topic of investigation in Pravat's work, especially in his public art practice. Being connected to Mughal architecture, the jaali is historically relevant but also present in our modern-day visual culture, epitomising the dualities of life. While allowing to see through and see beyond, it also confines spaces in rigid ways, acting as a statement in itself. With it, the exchange between spaces - indoor and outdoor - may seem visually possible, but in practicality, it is negated. This polarity is at focus here, putting in motion a game of illusions. The artist mounted metal cut-outs of the jaali which project their shadows onto the wall, while their painted counterparts side-by-side create an overall horizontal composition. The effect of this mirage challenges the gaze and poses a question, "Is the wall itself real, or is it a superimposed structure?" This uncertainty triggers a reflection on what is public and what is private and how we can create dimensions that are inclusive rather than exclusive. This proposition can be seen explored by public art, which revitalises built environments into a graceful interface between cultures, people and dialogues.
Aron Glasson Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 22
Aaron Glasson (New Zealand) The Sacrosanct Whole Aaron Glasson grounds his work on a key belief shared by a majority of indigenous tribes all over the world: everything, even the smallest entities, have an inherent life force. Taking inspiration from the traditional cultures of India and New Zealand, Aaron brought together some of their characteristic elements. While seemingly disconnected, they highlight this intrinsic bond as well as the sacred nature of everything. A surreal universe of architecture and humans, plants and stones, fruits and vegetables unfolds in front of the viewer who has the liberty of reading the piece by finding intimate, subjective associations leading to diverse meanings. From auspicious symbols such as the threaded chilli and lime - which are local symbols for protection and warding off evil, to the fertile pomegranate mingling with metaphysical meteorites, floating pumpkins and totems, the composition aims at stimulating the viewer’s mind, transporting it in a rebus without a solution. Visuals of ‘The Dancing Girl’ – an ancient artefact from the Indus Valley civilisation which was part of Pakistan before partition and now preserved in India - or bananas with their buds together in the shape of joined hands, poetically reinforce the concept of nature as a holistic hyper-connected system.
Adele Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 8
Adele Renault (Belgium) These Rock Pigeons Chose the Trees Over the years, Adele has been framing one of the most common sights in cities across the world that are often considered very ordinary - pigeons. In her murals, these creatures emanate a quiet grace thanks to her sheer talent in depicting them with photo-realistic simplicity. The beauty she infuses in these birds but also the scale they acquire on large surfaces, shift our perception of these otherwise neglected creatures. In Lodhi Colony, as part of this continuous practice, Adele used a photo she took in Delhi as a base for this mural. She enlarged the birds, flooded them with sunlight to highlight the magnificent features of these creatures that often go unnoticed - their layered eyes and the hues within their majestic feathers. When viewed up close, the piece reveals these details with immense intricacy. However, if seen through the pavement across the street, one can see a poetic fusion created between the birds, Lodhi’s unique architecture - specifically the arch - and the abundant greenery around it. ​​
Priyesh Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 3
Priyesh Trivedi (Mumbai, India) Unity As a continuation of his studio works within the Adarsh Balak series, Priyesh brought to life his first public art piece. Using the same characters from educational posters, the artist created a satirical piece that mocks the concept of unity in today's society. Finding 'beautification' to be a sterile trend within street art, he retained his ambiguous and gritty approach. While with a tint of playfulness, this representation encourages a deeper and personal reflection on our shared interactions.
Sam Lo Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 28
Sam Lo (Singapore ) Cause and Effect Basing her work on the theme of interconnectedness, visual artist Sam Lo used the characteristic Mughal floral motifs to connect with the local context of New Delhi. A CCTV camera, a frequent element in her work, appears as a reminder that while we are constantly watched, we can still fly, keeping in mind the consequential nature of the universe in our daily pursuits.
Telleas Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 3
Tellas (Italy) Terracotta Tellas’ mural is called ‘Terracotta’, a rich earthenware, clay-based ceramic, which in Italian literally means ‘baked earth’. The use of this colour and material is entrenched in the history of art from the earliest civilizations, as well as in India's heritage. It is no surprise that Tellas used it to bring a feeling of organic unity and contact with nature, which is necessary for people who immerse themselves in the noisy and busy streets of New Delhi, much like any metropolis in the world. While reflecting, he said, “The first two days I spent my time walking around the Lodhi Garden, Hauz Khas and Old Delhi. It provided a great contrast between the peaceful and the silent green of the parks, and the busy streets where people, like ants, walk-in all different directions.” Tellas softened this dichotomy by painting colours of sunrise and tree branches that seemingly dance with the wind - creating a spectacle for the eye. Mindful of his strolls, the colour of the branches connects with the heritage from India, creating an organic blend between nature and architecture.
Bond Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 1
Bond TruLuv (Germany) Mere Rang Mein (In My Colors) In Delhi, the artist was inspired by the nuances of Lodhi Colony’s walls. To this effect, he painted his tag in a glossy chrome effect with saturated colours. Furthering his continuous experimentation, the artist created an Augmented Reality component within this piece, making it the first of its very kind in India. When viewed through the ‘Artivive’ application, the mural becomes an AR piece with the tag animating and manipulating the depth and perspective within the letters, thus creating a unique analogue handmade piece combined with digital motion. Occasionally dubbed as ‘ARt’, the movement of integrating art with AR is also slowly motivating street artists into a new dimension of exploration, where the public becomes an active participant rather than a passive observer. You can download the application, ‘Artivive’ from Google Play Store or Apple Store.

From 2015 to the present, art and territory have established a relationship of interdependence and synergy in the Lodhi Art District. Art drew inspiration from the context and acted as a binding factor becoming an integral part of the social infrastructure. After various participatory activities conducted over the years, in 2018 St+art began a vertical to involve the Lodhi community through different cultural interventions and programmes.

For a month, the St+art team reached Lodhi in the wee hours of the morning to meet the distributor of the daily newspapers and insert informative brochures and questionnaires that reached 7,500 households a few hours later. Soon after, the team went to the neighbouring slums, to distribute the same brochures by hand, as newspapers are not delivered there. The brochures reported information on St+art and its approach to public art, accompanied by questionnaires aimed at creating a database in order to structure tailor-made activities for different age groups, according to the interests of the inhabitants.

Based on the feedback received, St+art planned a series of events and workshops that led the inhabitants to rediscover their territory, collaborate with each other and become an active part of Lodhi's cultural ecosystem for the next three months. Workshops of painting, dancing, poetry and many others enlivened the people and their spaces, culminating in a two-day celebration in which the inhabitants exhibited their works and performed songs and dances.

The participatory mural remains a testimony of this process. Designed by the artist and typographer Dattarji, the piece wraps the wall with the words "Saath Saath" in Hindi, which translates to "together". Painted by close to one hundred residents led by the artist, the work includes some of the keywords that emerged from the questionnaires about what was fundamental for the community. Water, air, safety, art, education, are just some of the words painted over the large letters of "Together". A manifesto of sorts, to remind us what common resources are, and how we can think and act collectively to preserve them.

Community Wall Saath Saath Reveals Lodhi Art Fest 2019 Pranav Gohil 13
‘Saath Saath’ ‘Saath Saath’, which means ‘together, is a mural painted along with around 100 residents of Lodhi Colony.

To extend the Lodhi Art District experience beyond its borders, St+art initiated curated tours that still have wide participation and a diverse audience. With the NGO Access for all the St+art motto "Art for all" has been synergically implemented in guided tours dedicated to visually impaired people. Walking from wall to wall, participants enjoy the work thanks to tactile and braille illustrative panels

Walk with Siddhant -guided tours dedicated to visually impaired people.

Beyond the walls

The streets of Lodhi have often been transformed into open platforms for free concerts, dance shows and performances, ranging from traditional forms such as puppeteers and snake charmers to varied contemporary experiments. The latter have often been organized on the occasion of cultural events where the art world is buzzing also with plenty of international guests but strategically connecting with the city.

This is how the “evenings in Lodhi” were born, the first of which united the pioneer and icon of Indian contemporary dance Astaad Deboo with French dancer Ali Salmi, in a dance performance informed by the confluence of two different cultures.

A performance that began in the street, moved inside one of the courtyards, accompanied by a swarm of people, that discovered the space and architecture through an emotional and physical journey guided by the moving bodies of the two dancers. A dance of life, where the stage gave way to stairs, trees, street lamps and balconies. The inhabitants opened their private spaces, rediscovering their value through this experience.

A year later, Ali returned to Lodhi, where he had been fascinated by the market and the bridge that overlooks one of Delhi's main arteries. Recently built, the bridge reflects the scale and features of the new urbanism, detaching itself from the human-scale architecture of Lodhi, yet not escaping the temporary appropriation and conversion of public spaces by private citizens that often characterize the dynamics and portrays the visual panorama of the roads in India. The bridge is in fact used as a giant clothesline by the market laundries. Ali humanized this infrastructure even further with his performance.

The performance was accompanied by a video projection and a rap showcase by two young Indian exponents as these elements are important to make the dance part of the place, the city and the audience. Salmi explains: “The city is alive, we are a part of it and it is a part of us”.

Today, Lodhi Art District is widely recognized as the first open-air art district of the country and the reception received by it in terms of footfall, the number of tours and walks being organised, photo and video shoots taking place, and an increased sense of community pride amongst its inhabitants encourage us to build on the district every year. It also beckoned us to create art districts in other cities - the ‘Mahim (E) Art District’ in Mumbai, and the ‘Maqta Art District’ in Hyderabad.