Pune gets a splash of colour in a 100-walls graffiti project
Two young artists are spearheading a drive to beautify, clean up, and post messages of love, thanks and well-being across the city.Updated: Sep 20, 2020, 10:41 IST
They aren’t really painting the town red. It’s more of a range of colours, and messages and causes.
Artists Kartikey Sharma and Sneha Chakraborty, both 27, are on a mission to paint 100 public walls across Pune. They’ve done 36 so far — a winged ballerina in a wheelchair; a thank-you mural depicting masked and featureless frontline workers; a puppy pleading “take me home” with the tag #AdoptDontShop.
Like most graffiti in India, it’s not subversive and has been undertaken, in fact, with permission from the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). Sharma and Chakraborty call it the #CleanAndPaintPune project. As the name implies, the artists first clean up, clearing trash all along the wall. They then whitewash it, set up a scaffold if needed, and bring out the spray cans.
“I always wanted to paint public walls in the city, so sometime late last year, we picked a long wall in Viman Nagar, sought permission from the residents of the building, and patch by patch painted a huge cat,” says Sharma.
A year on, the cat’s still there and the area has stayed clean. “There was a chai vendor nearby who did a little painting with us too. We notice he’s now started keeping a dustbin for people to use,” says Chakraborty.
The artists started inviting sponsors to help with raw material costs — paints, whitewash, supplies all come to about Rs 6,000 per painting. A few local companies stepped up.
Through the lockdown, as work dwindled for other artists, Sharma and Chakraborty began to reach out to other young artists. So far, they have signed on Jai Ghadage, 23, and Shubham Devkule, 22. “The idea is to get as many artists involved as possible, and pay them,” Chakraborty says.
Future plans include an augmented-reality (AR) feature that would let passersby use an app to access a virtual version of the image, on their device screens, which will then take on new dimensions and come to life. “Maybe if the PMC pitches in, we could paint more spots, get more artists involved and include AR,” Sharma says.
A mural of a coastal fort that comes alive, with waves lapping at its walls; a rendering of the planet that lets you zoom out further and further on your phone — that’s the stuff their dreams are made of.
But static is good enough for now. “Because of the art, people have stopped pasting handbills and spitting on that stretch,” says Shyam Kuddyady, secretary of the Konark Campus housing society where the first artwork was drawn. “We’ve been extra vigilant too and work to keep it clean and clear. A lot of people pose for selfies here now. We all love the cat.”