World is their canvas

An artist couple from India is a familiar face at many art festivals across the world — Florida to Venice

Published: 23rd April 2022 07:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd April 2022 07:02 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: The streets of Sarasota Avenue in Florida get a complete makeover once a year. — traffic comes to a standstill and the city starts to drench in hues. Over 300 3D artists from all over the world come here to draw all over the streetscapes with colourful chalks . Each year, the group has two Malayalees —Limnesh Augustine and Jincy Babu — the only Indians and Asians to attend the event till this year.

The duo has been attending the festival since 2013. Apart from Sarasot, they attend the Venice Chalk Festival annually too. This year was special to the couple as the festivities are reopening after two years of the pandemic. They were joined by a Japanese artist this year as well. 

At the festival, Limnesh and Jincy made a 6X6ft image of a shark trapped in a fishing net. They painted pliers at the end of the net, with which passersby could rescue the shark if they wanted to. Titled Rescue Me, it is one of their latest interactive 3D works. “A little girl came to watch the painting and loved it. When I said she can rescue the shark by putting her hands near the pliers, she was shocked. ‘Sharks are bad, why should we rescue them,’ she asked. By then, around 14-20 people gathered around, explaining to her why it’s important to save sharks. That day, more than 10 people learnt a little about ocean conservation,” says Limnesh.

This year, the duo finished five paintings, most of them socially relevant. “As the artists often come together at multiple festivals, we have become something like  afamily. So, when two artists from Ukraine couldn’t take part this year, we dedicated space for them. The rest of us painted a Ukrainian flag there and raised money to collect medical supplies to be sent to Kyiv, where the war is still plaguing the lives of hundreds,” says Jincy.

Interestingly, once the festival concluded on April 13, the city officials cleaned up the artworks, opening the roads back up. “That is why chalk art is special. As we make these amazing huge 3D works, the passerby watches us work. Life goes on around us,  and a whole city watches you. You learn from artists from other countries,” says Limnesh, who is an engineer settled in Bahrain.

“Once the festival is concluded, the artworks live on as photographs on cell phones,” quips Jincy, an art teacher. At the Venice festival in the US, they created a fantasy frame titled A Sky-Fy Day. The massive painting is filled with flying buildings and vehicles. Viewers can participate as a commuter on a flying hover, face to face with an eagle.

Art meets adorable
Jincy and Limnesh met in 2012 when Jincy was a college student and Limnesh was working in Bahrain. At the time, he had earned a spot in the Guinness World Records for creating the world’s largest 3D anamorphic painting. “I was trying to learn about 3D artworks. So I contacted Limnesh on Facebook and he revealed some trade secrets. One thing led to another, and we got married within a couple of years,” quips Jincy.

Limnesh agrees that 3D paintings are not easy. “You have to refer to your old high school mathematics textbooks. You need to use a lot of combinations and formulas while painting them on large surfaces. The roads are always curved so you need to brush up on your trigonometry skills too,”  he says. Limnesh has invented a new style — trenticular painting, which merges three different paintings in such a way that each angle reveals a new image.

Festival hopping
Though they have been participating in many art festivals, Jincy says they hardly ran into participants from India in the past seven years. “So, in 2015, we embarked on an all India tour to educate and train people from Himachal Pradesh to Kerala about 3D painting. By then I was working as an engineer in an IT company. So, I couldn’t skip work for too many days. So we traveled for a few months and gave free training to people. We also met a lot of chalk artists on the trip,” says Limnesh, a Kochi-native.   

They believe it is the difficulties in obtaining a visa that stops many Indians from participating in these festivals. “Most other countries support such artists to go for events in Europe, US and Australia. Mexican chalk artists get funds from their cultural ministry. If our government can do similar things, it will bring this culture to India too. This year, we two Indian artists were supposed to accompany us, but they didn’t get visas,” says Limnesh.


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