Kochi: If wall-paintings are the most effective way to announce the approach of the subcontinent’s biggest contemporary art festival, then the murals coming up in different parts of the city best exemplify the spirit of the Kochi Biennale Foundation, which is organising the Kochi-Muziris Biennale beginning next week.

Providing an unexpected visual treat, huge and colourful street murals are getting ready in the run-up to the fourth edition of the Biennale beginning on December 12.

These works of art are part of an ongoing graffiti project of the Foundation’s Pepper House Residency. The two-month endeavour gives street artists an opportunity to engage the public through their art, as well as bring often discarded spaces to notice.

Eight young graffiti artists from across the world are researching and creating street art in public spaces all over the neighbourhoods of Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. Massive wall paintings have been part of the Foundation’s efforts since the Biennale’s first edition in 2012, but this is the first time they have formally invited graffiti artists for the assignment.

The project began on October 25 and will conclude on December 20, a week after the start of Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018, curated by artist Anita Dube. While most of the art will be complete by the Biennale’s opening, early visitors might be able to see the talented artists in action.

The paintings are in response to the artists’ experience of the surrounding areas, according to Foundation president Bose Krishnamachari, who co-curated the first Biennale.

According to the Foundation’s Programmes Coordinator Nibedita Mishra, the graffiti projects will enhance the city’s engagement with the fourth Biennale that features 94 artist-projects. “These paintings on the walls of the Biennale city bring Kochi-ites closer to the world of art. They will not just be visually attractive, but thought-provoking as well,” she added. “Some of the works will fit well with the theme of the upcoming Biennale as well.”

The graffiti artists-in-residence are Shanto Antony, Nikhil K C, Kiran Maharajan, Luanna Senna, Tito Senna, Parag Sonarghare and Do and Khatra (Siddharth & Nikunj). Shanto, who is Kerala-based, is painting on the western wall of Santa Cruz School, while Nikhil is working at the ESI Hospital Wall and M K Mattancherry Wall.

Kiran, from Nepal, is painting ‘Hands’ on the walls of the Warehouse opposite to Mohammed Ali Warehouse in Mattancherry. Portuguese artists Luanna and Tito are working with colourful geometric patterns on the walls of the Mohammed Ali Warehouse.

Parag Sonarghare, from Maharashtra, is painting on the wall near Fadi Auditorium on Bazaar road and on the wall of T K Krishnan Nair Shop also on Bazaar road. His painting includes the picture of ‘Eyes’ that banks on realism.  Do and Khatra, comprising Gujaratis Siddharth and Nikunj, are painting on the walls of Fort Kochi Police Quarters.

By Manoj

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