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Community / Public space

From optical illusions to female warriors: Delhi's street art festival

For the second year running, international street artists descended on Delhi this February to create enormous murals on the city’s walls. Organised by St+art, a group that also runs a similar festival in Mumbai, the festival is meant to democratise art: to take it out of the gallery and bring it to everyone via Delhi’s bustling streets and public spaces. 


Twelve artists from 10 countries, including several from India, took part in the three months of festivities, and many took on local volunteers to help them create their enormous pieces. The festival also included workshops and city art tours.

One project involved painting shelters for the homeless, to draw attention to their situation and to cheer up the buildings themselves; while several others focussed on women’s rights. Below are a few of our favourites. 

Artist: Lady Aiko; Location: Block 15, Lodhi Colony, New Delhi. Image: Akshat Nauriyal.

Tokyo-born Lady Aiko is a well-known street artist who incorporates aspects of Japanese and American pop culture into her work. To create this mural, depicting Rani Lakshmi Bai, the most powerful female leader in Indian history, Lady Aiko enlisted 15 local volunteers to help her cut the 299 stencils and paint the bgihtly coloured piece.  

Okuda; Lok Nayak Bhawan Building, Khan Market. Image: Pranav Mehta.

Spanish artist Okuda created this piece, entitled “Day & Night. You & You”. It’s mounted on the wall of a government building overlooking Khan market, one of the priciest places to shop in the country. 

Daleast; Block 7, Lodhi Colony. Image: Akshat Nauriyal.

Daleast, a Chinese artist, travelled through India before the festival, a trip which he says inspired this piece:

There’s a chaos but inside it there is an order. Those birds are the same as us, moving around all the time, if they stop they will crash… I’m one of the birds.

There you are, then.

Joao Samina; Ogaan Wall, Hauz Khas Village. Image: Pranav Mehta.

This mural, by Portuguese artist Joao Samina, drew from a photographic portrait of an Indian woman. 

1010; School of Planning & Architecture. Image: Pranav Mehta.

Before you ask, no, there isn’t a hole in the wall – this is one of German artist 1010’s trademark optical illusion murals. He says this one was inspired by traditional Hindu architecture.

Inti; Khrikee Extension, near Sai Baba Mandir. Image: Akshat Nauriyal.

Titled “Balance”, Inti’s enormous mural depicts a priest or religious figure with elements from several different tultures. It’s located in Khrikee extension, a chaotic, bustling neighbourhood to the south of the city where its calming gaze will no doubt be appreciated. 

Axel Void; Delhi Cold Storage, Azadpur. Image: Pranav Mehta.

American street artist Axel Void has, as you can see, been strongly influenced by classical oil paintings. This huge still life is aptly perched above a fruit and vegetable market.

Olek. Image: Pranav Mehta.

Polish artist Olek brought 60 local women on board to help her crochet this enormous blanket to cover a family night shelter. 

All images courtesy of St+art.
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