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Streets Dept Visits: India with Eric Dale

April 2, 2023

Streets Dept Visits is a periodic series covering the street art that Philadelphians and their cameras find in their travels around the world. Today, we’re featuring a write-up by Streets Dept Contributor Eric Dale, who visited India in December of 2022:

Late last year, I took a trip to India. I ate a ton of great food, attended an Indian wedding, and, of course, checked out some street art. Here’s what I saw, and some themes I noticed (tiny sample size notwithstanding).

India loves murals—but they’re not on buildings as often as they’re on walls lining the roads. There are many places where you can drive at 30 mph for ten minutes and have a mural next to you the entire time. Sometimes it’s a single mile-long mural; other times, it’s a string of small murals one next to the other. Imagine if the walls of I-95 were painted from Fishtown to Fox Chase—that’s what India was like in some places! Retaining walls, underpasses, tunnels—nothing was off limits.

Sidenote: I saw a lot of murals about recycling and other environmental themes. I’m guessing that this is a government initiative intended to fight India’s massive waste and pollution issues.

Speaking of nothing being off limits, check out the size of this mosaic wall:

I did encounter two places where there were lots of murals painted on buildings like we see in Philly: the Lodhi Arts District in Delhi, and certain parts of Jodhpur.

Widely described as India’s first open-air art district, Lodhi Colony contains an astonishing 54 murals (and counting) by local and international artists, including New York’s own Gaia! The force behind this district is the St+art India Foundation, a nonprofit that works to make art accessible by putting it in the public space.

Here’s a mural by Mumbai artist Priyesh Trivedi, a comic illustrator who had never painted a mural before this one!

Here’s a mural by German graffiti writer Bond TruLove, whose incorporation of AR made this the first piece of “ARt” in India!

And here’s an aging mural by “Avinash and Kamesh” called The Tourist. Obviously I had to take a photo of this one!

I also loved this take on American Gothic, which was painted by Singaporean artist Eugene Soh. Apparently I wandered down what’s known as Singapore Lane!

Do a Google Images search for Jodhpur and you’ll see why it’s called The Blue City. But what I learned while I was there is that not all parts are equally blue. Some parts—the touristy parts, I guess—are VERY blue. And those parts have lots of murals.

There were a lot of selfie spots along this street, and every piece had an Instagram handle painted on. Indian artists—they’re just like us!

Another thing I noticed in Jodhpur was rooftop mosaics. Many, many houses had a central motif tiled into their roof decks. I’m not sure if this occurs in all of India, but it’s definitely a thing in Jodhpur.

To wrap things up, here are a few other artistic sights I saw:

This owl sculpture made from gears and other scrap metal!

Hindi graffiti!

Hand-painted trucks galore! This isn’t even close to being as decorated as they come.

And perhaps the only non-commissioned piece of street art I saw on the whole trip: a tile installation.

I leave you with one of my favorite images from the trip, which happens to demonstrate that India, just like America, suffers from wheatpaste advertising blight.

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