The Lodhi Art District has been making news for the past three years. But somehow I hadn’t been able to go for a walk there to view it. For the uninformed, Lodhi colony of Delhi has been converted into one of the largest open air art gallery. This has been made possible by an NGO St+art India foundation that brought 30 well-known street artists together to convert this colony into a landmark.
Lodhi colony is a housing society for government employees. Chosen not only for its central location but also because it’s so well laid out that its a breeze to traverse it on foot. The large walls adjacent to the streets, posed as the perfect canvas for the artists to set flight to their creativity.
Each mural is a testament to how deeply the artists have explored their subject. The idea was to not just blend in the Indian mileu but also be inclusive in nature. There are several inferences to the inhabitants of the colony who now take pride in maintaining these beautiful walls.
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St+art India began this project in January 2016 and is at its final summation with about 52 artworks and a few more which are WIP. I am going to share about 10 of these as we managed to view about 60% during the long walk. I was blessed to have the foundation curator Giulia Ambrogi (Co- founder) accompany us on this walk. She filled in all the blanks about the artworks and artists.
I have tried to fill in the commentary on the works as best as I could. I had taken permission from her to take the help of their Instagram page to know more. As you view the artwork, you will realise the many layers of imagery and meaning at work in each of them.
#2 Lavanya by Hendrick ECB
Lavanya in hindi means ‘Grace’. This woman is actually a parantha seller in the Khanna market who posed as the inspiration for the artist. Hendrick has painted a black and gray portrait, capturing every wrinkle, every crease on her face in the old style of etching.Time and tide have ravaged this piece a lot and we are left to wonder as to what will ultimately happen to all this art.
#33 Impressions of Lodhi by Yip Yew Chong
Singaporean artist Yip Yew Chong loves to include as much detail as possible from the street he is painting on. The flute seller, mithai shop, cow sitting in the middle of the road, a chai shop and a local barber shop – all are everyday scenes visible on the Indian streets. His use of local culture in this mural has made it very relatable to the people. Add to that, is the use of bright colours to bring it to life, making it stand out a lot amongst all the other murals.
#13 We love Dilli by Lek & Sowat, Hanif Kureshi
Drawing inspiration from the festival of Holi, the playful nature of the Delhi and the children who play cricket around this site everyday, lek and sowat decided to write the text ‘We love Delhi’ in hindi which Hanif then painted on top of their sanskrit cyphers to create an artwork which everyone in the neighbourhood could relate to and enjoy.
#11 Time changes everything by Daku
This stunning mural makes brilliant use of typography and Light and shadow play to bring out one of the best pieces I saw here. Words have been cut out of metal strips and fixed in such a way that when lights falls over them, it casts a shadow on the walls, forming the words. The movement of the sun keeps changing the way these words are cast on the wall which is what makes this a brilliant piece. I need to go back and view this one at an hour when the sun is directly overhead – that’s when the words will be visible the best.
#16 Vishwaroopa by Inkbrushnme
This mural is a tribute to Indian mythology with some sci-fi and fantasy fiction heroes thrown into the mix. I swear I saw Yoda here – can you spot him? The artist has presented the many forms of Vishnu in this mural in a very elaborate manner. Again, this needs to be viewed at another hour when the sun is half way up.
#41 Cause & Effect by Sameer Kulavoor
This was my second favourite mural as it depicts sparrows in such a brilliant manner. The artist has used this motif to ponder on the idea of freedom and interconnectivity. I loved the brilliant red of the ribbons that the sparrows seem to be carrying from one place to another.
#26 Colours of the soul by Senkoeone
The artist has used the birds to symbolise the diversity of the inhabitants of Lodhi colony. Their everyday dialogue with each other and the story of their lives is represented by the birds who fly around exchanging news. The Mexican heritage of the artist comes out in the use of colour and pattern in this mural.
#44 The Sacrosanct Whole by Aaron Glassons
In this mural the artist has used references of the Indus valley civilization, which is the oldest civilization of India. He married these references to the everyday objects he saw in the colony and around Delhi city and built up a very enigmatic dialogue. I just loved the detailing of the fruits and vegetables.
#39 Trans Lives Matter by Aravani art project
This colorful mural celebrates the LGBTQI community and is a culmination of the work Aravani Art project does with transgender. The faces painted here are of actual people with whom this organisation has been working with. The most amazing part of this mural is that its painted bang opposite a local school. Amazing as there was no objection from them, given the subject of this artwork.
#40 The pigeons by Adele Renault, Block 14
These two rock pigeons look quite aggressive as they peek out through the trees at the passersby. Painted by Adele Renault, one needs to get upclose to admire the detailing of the feathers. Quite an intricate piece and must have been laborious to say the least. Pigeons have got to be the most common sight in any Indian city and are generally despised by most people. But here the artist has managed to make them look royal and beautiful.
I am not done by far and wish I could have included some more in this post. I have promised myself another round of Lodhi colony, preferably in better weather. I hope you have enjoyed peeking at these gorgeous art pieces. Hope you have a few favorites here – do let me know which ones.
St+art India has done some amazing work in other Indian cities as well. Check out this mural at the Bangalore Flower Market in KR Market area which was painted as part of a project titled – claim your wall!!