Meet Harshvardhan Kadam, the artist who painted India's largest mural at Pune's Yerwada Jail

Harshvardhan Kadam is an artist based out of Pune, who created India's largest mural painting at the Yerwada central Prison.

Nevin Thomas November 28, 2017 18:26:43 IST

Pune: Harshvardhan Kadam, quite like the locality in Pune where his art studio 'Inkbrushnme' is located, is quiet. He casually inquires how our trip from Mumbai to Pune was, and offers us tea, before explaining how he had used our visit as an excuse to cancel a trip to Mumbai and stay home.

He likes 'quiet' Pune, he says.

He is Pune. A city where he has spent most of his life. A place that continues to play muse to his art works.

"To understand the voice of the people, it is very important to understand the context in which you are creating an art work. Since I know the city, I know what the people will react to and what the people will not react to," says Kadam.

A little into the conversation, it becomes clear that beneath the calm exterior is the mind of an insatiable artist, constantly exploring new ways to tell his stories.

"The more I explore, the more I know about myself. The more I explore, the more I know about people and what it is exactly like to be a human being," he says.

The word 'explore' resonates. Kadam's repertoire is vast and diverse. He has illustrated books for kids. He is in the final stages of completing a work on erotica. He loves painting murals on large walls. But there is a feeling he wants to do more.

"What I observed as I was growing up was the art of sequential story telling which is the language of graphic novels. I used that to shape up my understanding, my voice and my style. So there is a whole range or a spectrum of projects I like to do. The reason why I do that is because I don't want to be tied to a particular identity," he says.

"The idea that I could use walls as my canvas first struck me during a visit to Varanasi. That thought of having access in a public space... creating something that can communicate... made me realise I could extend (my) skill set to a bigger space," he adds.

The latest work in his street art project is a 300m-long mural on the walls of the Yerwada Jail in Pune. The art work, titled 'Songs of the City', is India's largest mural, and is Kadam and his team's attempt at telling the story of Pune in a chronological order.

"The mural is the story of the city from the river's (Mula-Mutha) point of view. The river has been here for years and has seen all the changes that the city has undergone. The length is so magnanimous that we had to create it in sections [sic]. Just to imagine and conceptualise, we divided the progression in parts," explains Kadam.

Though Pune is central to his work, Kadam plans to continue travelling across the country and paint walls. The idea, he reiterates, is to continuously expand his canvas.

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