Public art makes art free, more democratic: Hanif Kureshi

·3-min read

New Delhi, Jun 26 (PTI) India is at the cusp of a new art movement — the urban contemporary, according to renowned public artist Hanif Kureshi.

Kureshi defines the urban contemporary movement as one that challenges the conventional notion of practising art, and encourages a culture where “artists are making cities their studios, rather than having a studio in a city”.

'We are at the beginning of a new movement we call the urban contemporary. When the artist makes cities their studios, art becomes more free, it becomes more democratic.

“Why can’t an individual go out there and express themselves? Make a wall into a canvas and make a city into a canvas. And that’s the new movement,” he told PTI in an interview.

Kureshi recently collaborated with Bombay Sapphire's Stir Creativity platform, Serendipity Arts Festival and the Corporation of the city of Panaji (CCP)to design a first of its kind mural titled “Goa Glitch” on a waste sorting station.

According to him, the sorting stations, which were “new interventions” on the streets of Goa were structures that people were not aware of, or were not paying attention to.

Transforming them into works of art, he said, will help them pay attention to the structure, and by extension its role in keeping the environment clean.

“A sorting station is an important structure from the function point of view, but it is not great in terms of design...it doesn’t look good from the outside.

“So we decided to add value to trash, and make it into a piece of art,” Kureshi said.

The initiative was part of Bombay Sapphire's Stir Creativity platform's efforts towards supporting sustainability and creativity.

The erstwhile brown rectangular box on the side of the road, now bears beautiful bright colours representative of the spirit of the city — bringing to life the myriad shades of Goan skies and sea.

“We wanted to get inspired from Goa, the Goan sensibility and the colour scheme, like the shades of the sky at different times of the day, and how the ocean has different shades of blue through the day, and combining them in the form of an abstract composition.

“And more importantly, it adds a dash of excitement on to this brown structure that it was before,” Kureshi said.

Known for his blend of art, typography and street culture to transcend socio-cultural barriers, his artistic practice revolves around embedding art within the spaces we inhabit and engage with everyday.

While there might not be any tool to measure public engagement with a piece of art that is part of the cityscape, Kureshi said the impact of public art on society will always be “positive”.

Talking about the popular Lodhi art district in Delhi, where the walls of an entire locality bear artworks by artists from across the world, he said art had become a “subconscious” part of the children growing up in the colony.

'There is no tool to measure engagement as such, but the value of a piece of public art can be seen over a period of time.

“Subconsciously, the kids who are living in Lodhi colony today, what would their version of art be? “How this art will fuel their imagination is beyond our imagination. It is not something that I can predict, but I know that it is only going to create something positive,” Kureshi said. PTI TRS MAH MAH

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