Sunday, May 15, 2011

Street painters - the true artists of India!

Recently there has been an amazing effort by many people to revive some of India's dying crafts. Indigenous crafts that were slowly withering away due to the appeal of higher paying jobs in the city, are slowly but surely coming back, thanks to the untiring efforts of these people. We've all heard of these skilled crafts - rugs from Mirzapur, Gond paintings from Madhya Pradesh, shawls and sarongs from Manipur, silk and cotton weaving from Pochampally, bell metal work from Bastar, Madhubani paintings and so on. The list is endless.

But last week, some post-lunch googling brought me to this amazing artform - which until then, I had never thought to take a second look at, let alone a first look. Street painting!!!! And no, I am not talking about street art, but street painters who are artists, who thru their brightly and brashly painted images - on walls, on autos and trucks, on posters - used to keep our population of one billion informed of what's happening in their cities. Thought provoking political posters, lavish Bollywood hoardings, funny sports images, spiritual religious paintings - an amalgamation of the religious, political and cultural mélange that is India!

Each of these painters created their paintings in their own individual typeface, their own unique signature style, and their own personal distinctive, idiosyncratic design. 

Here are some examples.....
Painter Umesh from Gujarat
Kafeel from Old Delhi
Painter Vaghela from Gujarat's unique Fish and Bones typeface
 Painter Charan from Old Delhi who developed this Fruit Juice Style, so called for its 7 colors.....
But with time, technology is making its mark everywhere and this art form is in its dying phase. Hand painted posters are being replaced with modern computer designed ones printed on vinyl, at the click of the mouse! Customers don't have the time to wait for a hand painted poster to get done, they prefer to walk into a sign shop, tell the guy behind the counter what they want, a few clicks and the finished product is there to view on the screen, another click, and its done! 

So the painters are being forced to seek their wages elsewhere or, to remain competitive, sell their creations a a much lower price. To get a clearer picture, watch this video

Handpaintedtype! Hanif is determined to, if not revive the dying art, to archive and preserve this typographic practice as a resource for present and future generations. I was so impressed at what he was doing, I contacted him and asked if I could share this effort on my blog.

This is what he says when asked why he is doing this:

"My name is Hanif Kureshi and I’ve always wanted to become a street painter. I used to work with street painters during my vacations in school. My dad asked to me to join the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda, to become one and later I learned about graphic design and typography. Today I work with Wieden+Kennedy in New Delhi, which needless to say is a completely different world from that of a street painter. I now know both these worlds intimately and I felt that I should do something to link them before painters disappear from streets. I also thought it important to preserve this art form for future generations to understand and hopefully, appreciate. If you’d like to see more of my work, please visit"

If you would like to know more and contribute towards this mammoth project, go here!


Designwali said...

i love the street painters! makes the city come to life!

GB said...

That is something uniquely Indian isn't it? Lovely post K, definitely worth exploring in more depth.

Shweta said...

A very heart touching post. What a waste of talent? These bollywood celebrities earn so much for bugging the hell out of us, and the real talent suffers like this. Sad but true.

Patricia Torres said...

Oh.. the street painters are surely talented.. I find it amazing.. at how quickly they can finish their work.. I totally love love the movie posters... those guys simply rock!!

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