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Entry through a warehouse

Graffiti artist Loomit converts storehouse in Lower Parel’s mill area into studio space for musicians and artists.

art and culture Updated: Mar 19, 2011 16:49 IST
Megha Mahindru

German street artist, Loomit has been busy painting the town red, green, yellow and more. On his first tour of the country, the 42-year-old artist has already painted walls across Delhi, Hyderabad, Nagpur, and most recently Mumbai, and seems to love it. “Bystanders have offered me everything from interesting conversations to food and shelter,” reveals Loomit, adding, “However, the biggest challenge in India is to find empty spaces, since most walls are covered with public advertising or religions inscriptions.”

In Mumbai, armed with spray cans, the graffiti artist has converted a rundown warehouse in a mill compound into a plush studio place in barely five hours for the Red Bull Music Academy. Here international musicians will be holding workshops for home-grown talents. Tonight, celebrated session drummer Bernard Purdie, most famous for his collaboration with Aretha Franklin and The Beatles, will be conducting workshops for music enthusiasts along with Grammy winner Taufiq Qureshi.

At this Todi Mills warehouse-turned-studio, Loomit collaborated with Swedish artist Erik to paint a wall, awash with LPs and guitars in his signature 3-D style. “I’ve been doing graffiti for 27 years. I arrived upon the dimensional style of my art after having tried painting logos, characters and even stencils.” While Loomit occupies one room, the other section has been done up by students of JJ School of Arts, who have experimented with the wall for the first time. The students will be exhibiting their canvases here this week.

GraffitiLoomit, whose peculiar moniker is inspired by a character Mr Loomis from the Marilyn Monroe-starrer Niagara, reveals that his tryst with street art started early, when he was barely 15. "I started off as an ‘illegal’ artist. I would take to the streets at night and to protect my identity, I had to think of a name." About the thin line that separates street art from vandalism, he replies, "It’s simple. Think of a pencil— you can write a telephone number with it, make a beautiful landscape with it or shove it into someone’s chest," he explains.

About the city’s own graffiti culture, Loomit adds, “It’s at a nascent stage. It’s like a time-travel to the past for me. I love the energy with which it all starts, whether it’s Munich or Mumbai. It’s sort of a boot camp for me.” For now, the artist is hoping to collaborate with Indian street artists when he revisits the country in December. “I’m planning a five-city tour. We interacted with students from JJ School of Art, and they had great ideas which we could put together in the future,” he adds.

Reb Bull Music Academy Bass Camp features a day-long workshop with Bernand Purdie and Taufiq Qureshi at Todi Mills Compound, Lower Parel today.