Basharat Bashir

Painting revolution

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Historically speaking, Art has largely remained confined to galleries and to selected exhibitions and just a few selected audiences have had access to this format of communication and creative expression. But long ago, new trends emerged in the art field that brought art to the street and not just the art knowing ‘selected few’ but general masses began having developing a taste for it and discussing various forms of art. In other words, art went on to create a larger audience and viewership.

However, it still continues to remain confined in many ways and attempts by artists to draw visual commentaries on the prevailing situations have always been discouraged, if not banned and terminated, in the developing countries including India.

But there are artists who have seen things changing for good. As a student of Jamia Millia Islamia I was always discontented with large blank walls that enclosed the university, and as a painting student I always wanted to carve some windows into those walls. The walls presented enormous space for artists to utilize, to paint murals and do beautiful calligraphy but, the gesture of Jamia organization made that look less impressive so I curbed my determination.

I was excited to learn that in recent weeks Jamia students along with some of their Faculty members have changed the whole appearance of those walls. Each part of the wall is now transformed into a window that takes the viewer through a series of proactive thoughts. One can easily find a group or two painting a new piece on Jamia wall as one walks along the Jamia road. Even though most of the murals directly represent a visual protest, but the artistic intensity in them is absolutely incredible. From past one month students of Jamia Millia Islamia and people of Shaheen Bagh have resorted themselves in peaceful protest against CAA (Citizen Amendment Act) which they think is discriminatory and contradicts with Indian constitution.  There are anti CAA protests being held across the country now, while as Jamia and Shaheen Bagh remain their center. These country wide protests are being seen as a revolution that would certainly bring about a change.

As some of the murals illustrate actual events that took place during anti CAA protests, others concentrate on unity and struggle. Although not all murals seem to be painted by professional artists but each piece contributes to its participation by giving a clear message for what they stand for.  The protest in Jamia and Shaheen Bagh has remained peaceful even though attempts are constantly made by some organizations or parties to provoke a rash reaction. Many leaders of ruling party have termed these protestors to be anti national, while as they paint for unity and recite preamble of Indian Constitution.


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