A Banksy in Mumbai? Even street artists are puzzled by this guerilla graffiti

A spray-painted insignia that looks like a triangle, with a wavy line underneath, has been spotted at several places in central Mumbai.

mumbai Updated: Mar 24, 2018 10:55 IST
Rachel Lopez
Rachel Lopez
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Graffiti,Guerilla graffiti,wall art
The insignia has a triangle with a wavy line underneath.(HT Photo)

Surely you’ve seen it. Across central Mumbai, in Lower Parel, Parel, Dadar (West), Dadar (East), Mahim, and Sion, someone has spray-painted a strange symbol on the walls, billboards and pillars.

You may not notice right away. The insignia looks like a triangle, with a wavy line underneath. It is created using a stencil, is no bigger than your fist, and is often accompanied by other artwork, like a flame or a blimp-like body.

But start looking for it and you’ll spot it soon enough – at eye-level on flyover pillars and even on the exterior boundary walls of Victoria church in Mahim and Kohinoor Square near Shiv Sena Bhavan.

Graffiti on boundary wall of One IndiaBulls building near Elphinstone Road (L). A spray-painted symbol seen on a factory wall in Sion (R). (HT Photo)

Those familiar with the work of anonymous British graffiti artist who goes by the name Banksy will know that stencils are handy tool when need to quickly execute an artwork to avoid getting caught. Banksy’s own graffiti has been subversive, making political and social statements, and people have been buying the same stencils to replicate his iconic work around the world. So do we have a Banksy in Mumbai or just a copycat?

The ones in Mumbai aren’t always black. The one on a factory wall along Ambedkar Road just south of Sion’s Gandhi Market is orange. It isn’t always in central Mumbai either — one appears on an electricity box right opposite the Rajabai Tower in Fort. But it carries no other information.

Graffiti at Kohinoor square in Dadar West. (HT Photo)

No signature, no number to call, no witty slogan pointing to an advertising campaign teaser. Street-artist groups are just as confused. We contacted members of the Wall Project and the Bollywood Art Project, both of whom have been responsible for covering city walls and building facades in artistic, larger than life murals.

Neither could identify the icon or knew who might have painted them or when.

Mumbai has been hosting street artists since the late 2000s, when The Wall Project made formal efforts to cover street walls, subways and public areas with art.

Guerilla graffiti (created without consent from those who own the structures) is rarer, usually scrawls made with a spray can. Stencil art is rarer still. In 2011, Delhi street artist DaKu is said to have visited Mumbai and stenciled ‘F***’ in Devanagari at nine locations overnight. In September last year, the word ‘Laden’ in Devnagari script showed up on walls across the city as part of the promotion for the Marathi film Laden Aala Re Aala.

First Published: Mar 24, 2018 08:08 IST