KOCHI: Not merely a stroke of brush; nor a master piece; but an avant garde movement to express oneself and a means to voice the concerns of the public- a graffiti meant all of these during its conception. The origin of this popular and much lauded artistic venture dates back to 1960s and was associated with hip-hop culture. But gone are those days when such wall paintings were synonymous to mass dissent and vandalism. Today it has graduated to be a popular art form which helps to create awareness while presenting a pleasant spectacle especially within the confines of the city.
Manoj Mathasseril, joint secretary of Kerala Cartoon Academy, says, "Graffiti, which were once a part of the western culture, have recently become a trend in our state." "But this form of art needs to shed its amateurish facet to be taken seriously," he adds.
On a Pleasing Note
The walls of Maharaja’s College, opposite General Hospital is adorned with beautiful colours, courtesy a joint venture initiated by Amaara foundation and Kochi Biennale in association with Maharaja’s College and St Teresa’s College. The intention behind the project was to bring smiles on the faces of the passer by and the hospital inmates. “We realised that the hospital windows faced a wall and the view was a bleak one, so we undertook the task of cleaning the wall and sketching graffiti on it,” says Vaishnavi Manu and Tanika Rajeshwari, the center heads of Amaara. According to Nazil, former chairman of Maharaja’s college and one of the artists who contributed to the effort, our target was children and most of the works were done keeping in mind the kids. The intention to beautify the city was also a subtle aim of the project.
Safety Matters a Lot
The 1.5km of graffiti done on the walls of DP World, Cochin (Dubai Port) aims to create awareness amongst its staff and the public about the precautions that has to be taken while on road and at dangerous work sites. C A Chackappan, security supervisor of HR department, DP World, says, “We have been involved in this mission since the inception of DP World in the city.” He adds that school students were roped in to create these graffitis. Some of the brilliant works of these amateurs still remain etched on the walls of the port. The project aimed to encourage young minds to think creatively even about regular issues such as safety. The schools that were a part of the project are Kendriya Vidyalaya, Port Trust, BVHS, Nayarambalam, St Mary’s H S Vallarpadam, Lady of Hope AIGHS Vypeen and a few other schools across the city.
Rising From Ashes
A brilliant artistic piece covering an area of 2,000 sq ft on the outer walls of District Jail has been providing colour to the otherwise bleak existence of the prisoners. The students of Rajagiri school of Engineering and Technology in association with Hermit Studios have painted a graffiti of a Phoenix, a mythical bird which takes rebirth from its own ashes. “The graffiti conveys the message that the inmates too can look forward to a promising future if they are able to rise from the ashes of their past,” says Merin, one of the artists. The art work which was unveiled on April 2016 had attracted a lot of media attention. Sidharth, an artist at Hermit Studio, says, “Our aim while creating graffitis is to bring smiles on faces. We want them to think and initiate change themselves.” He adds that in the future people may take this art form as their career. They are planning to do a graffiti on Jisha murder case to sensitise public about the violence against women and also to promote women empowerment.
Jesus with a Head Phone
As a part of All-Kerala campus conference conducted by Jesus Youth, graffiti were painted on the wall of Sacred Heart’s college. The creative heads worked together to transform an abandoned wall into an eye catching spectacle. The graffiti portraying Jesus with a head phone relays a new dimension to the hitherto spiritual sentiments. The overwhelming response which the wall painting attracted is a testimony to the popularity that the art form has amongst the masses. The seventeen artists were led by Jesweith Iyer, a graduate student at Sacred Heart’s College. He says, “Self expression is what an artist craves for. A canvas is a mouthpiece which conveys an artist’s aesthetic revelations.” In his opinion, the works of maestros get confined within art galleries. If their works can find place as graffities they would be open to public view. Thus graffities exhibiting master pieces of veterans will become a media that will channel thought to the layman. He envisages a project where he would be able to express his thoughts as paintings on the pillars of the metro project. Jesweith hopes to get financial backing from the government for this project.
A Clamour for Justice
The graffiti that has come up at Vyttila, protests the delay in the investigation into Jisha murder case. This venture was organised by Janathipathya Mahila Association which saw women coming forward to create the graffiti. Many distinguished personalities made their presence felt. Cine actresses K P A C Lalitha and Manju Pilllai and dramatist Sajitha Madathil, participated.