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Street Art

Written by Ravjyot Kaur | Edited by Sophiya Islam

Streets in a city provide space for people to gather as well as to move around. Street art is a form of visual art displayed in public spaces. It is often displayed on compound walls, pedestrian over-bridges, trains, metro stations etc.

Street art is no new phenomenon. While the art forms of today are very different from the caves, there is a striking similarity in the canvas; the desire to use walls and other shared spaces for exhibiting art. While street art in its most original form is art created without authorisation. Today, it also exists in its newest form, which is planned and thoughtfully executed.

Street art goes beyond adding to the aesthetics of a place but also contributes to its cultural, social, and economic aspects. Since it is in an outdoor environment, it is accessible to the general public free of cost, unlike art in museums and galleries.

Cueva de las Manos, Rio Pinturas © UNESCO

It is believed that the oldest piece of street art is in Santa Cruz, Argentina, and is called Cueva de las Manos. It comprises art adorning the caves' walls dating to the Stone Age.

In its days of inception in large cities such as New York, street art in the Graffiti format started as vandalism on the subway trains, bridges, and walls and grew into a unique skill. It became an essential element of urban public spaces, which spoke about a sense of democracy and accessibility.

Today, it is meant to provoke thought and not rejection among the viewers. While the latter is still prevalent in the form of vandalism, the former is gaining acceptance, and even government bodies are leveraging the potential of the same.

Artists like Banksy remain pseudonymous and continue to paint without permission, and people flock to catch sight of every new graffiti they do.

'Guard Dog' by Banksy, inside the courtyard of Cargo ©

Street art is a sought-after mode of expression. It can serve a wide range of purposes - to express aggression, spread awareness about community issues or simply to decorate places.

Tyler's artwork in Mumbai that depicts Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi, leads from two major political parties in India ©

Street art is also a medium for cities to mark their presence on the map, get noticed, and welcome tourism. Government bodies worldwide are increasingly embracing this as a way to boost tourism.

Tourists admiring Murals in San Marcos, Texas, United States. The city has actively leveraged its murals to boost tourism ©

Public art Festivals in India

From folk art adorning the walls of houses in rural settlements to rangoli on floors, India has a rich association with art in the outdoor environment. Public art festivals are increasingly becoming common in India.

An installation in the Public Art Ecology Festival where a tree hangs not knowing where to go; ©

Kala Ghoda Art Festival 2017 © Architectural Digest

Street art is a proliferating phenomenon that is globally recognised today. It has come a long way from being widely perceived as vandalism to Civic Pride. As the canvas size is usually enormous, street art gets excellent visibility and consequently has a noticeable impact on the experience of a public space. Furthermore, integrating arts and culture in the urban environment, particularly in public spaces, is crucial in shaping a city's overall identity.


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