"The idea is to make art democratic; to bring it to the public from the art galleries."
That's how Akshat Nauriyal described his project St+art, which brings together Indian and international street artists to create art in public spaces here.
"I have tried to break art out from gallery spaces and put it out in public spaces instead — bring it to the people who interact with the city a lot more. This also makes public spaces more interactive," Nauriyal says, of the genesis of St+Art.
The first-ever St+Art festival took place in Delhi in 2014, after which it travelled to Mumbai and Chennai. The great response to it prompted editions in Bengaluru (1-30 October 2016) and Hyderabad (1-12 November 2016). St+Art Bengaluru, according to Nauriyal, was not launched as a franchisee movement, but as one that's specific to the Garden City, with contextual and site-specific works.
The objective of St+Art in Bengaluru was to "enable artists to listen to, and interpret the city by being agents of its transformation and creating conversations around local stories".
For Nauriyal, the aim of St+Art had a lot to do with breaking away from the "restrictive nature of art in India".
"To a large extent, it’s become the domain of the privileged, something that can only be appreciated by a small section of society," Nauriyal had said in a previously published interview. "It has become exclusive in nature with access restricted to only a handful of the population. We wanted to make art democratic by putting it in the public view, for everyone."
Another concern for Nauriyal was the "inertness" of public spaces in India, with cities resembling nothing more than "heaps of concrete". "There is tremendous room for forward thinking design and reimagining our public spaces in a way the become more interactive and playful... What is the point of art if the people in the city cannot interact with it?" Nauriyal has been quoted as saying.
Artists who have collaborated with this project inclide Shilo Shiv Suleman, Ullas Hydoor, Poornima Sukumar, Baadal Nanjundaswamy, Harshvardhan Kadam, Daku, Siddharth Kararwal, George Mathen (also known as Appupen), Sameer Kulavoor, Anpu Varkey.
Serbian street artist Artez's work was among those including in the St+Art festival in Bengaluru. Incidentally, he had also been part of St+Art's debut edition in Delhi in 2014. In Bengaluru, his work was placed at the Chinnaswamy Stadium entrance of the Cubbon Park Metro Station. "Making the sketch took around two days. I was walking around Cubbon Park for a bit, reading about it in the internet, and then talking to people who were telling me about it," Artez told Times of India.
Renowned street artist Daku showcased his work as part of the Hyderabad St+Art edition. "Artvertising" was Daku's take on consumerism. “I’m not against hoardings, in fact I feel that it is part and parcel of the city’s life and also adds to the identity of Hyderabad. But we’re using the same medium and seeing what we can do with art,” Daku told Asian Age.
In Hyderabad, St+Art was hosted by art@telangana and the Krishnakriti Foundation and saw several sites across Necklace Road and MS Makhta come alive through murals, installations, talks, screenings and workshops, reported The Indian Express.
Nine Indian and international urban and contemporary artists along with 10 artists from Telangana came together for St+Art in Hyderabad, including Artez (Serbia), Alber (Bordeaux, France), Nikola Mihajlovic (Serbia), Jean Luc Feugeas (France), Remed (France), Nilesh (Pune), Neelim Mahanta (Delhi), Daan Botlek (Netherlands), Daku (India), Dia Mehta Bhupal (Hyderabad).
Clearly, St+Art has made more than a start in popularising street art in India. To conclude in Nauriyal's own words: "Personally I am not that into the idea of art in galleries. Public interventions are far more engaging as a medium."