Basharat Bashir

Graffiti and Murals

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By: Ghazala Fatima

There are numeroustypes of outdoor art, public art, and street art that can be made and interpreted in various ways. Wall art is one of the common and attractive outdoor art but many of us have difficulty to differentiate two distinguished types of wall art, murals and graffiti.Both of these are two unique forms of art, each with a rich history and cultural background.

Graffiti is considered as a very bold and courageous form of street art. It is the art that is written, painted or drawn on a wall or other surfacemainly done on public walls on city streets, typically without any prior permission. Graffiti is commonly done as an act of rebellion, marking territory, making a statement, or raising awareness. That is why graffiti becomes controversial subject to many countries and in most countries, marking or painting property without permission is considered by property owners and civic authorities as defacement and vandalism, which is a punishable crime. However, graffiti existed in society from theancient times but the modern graffiti we know today, got popularity in 1970s in Urban America. As Graffiti grew in popularity it graduallybecame more broadly accepted and appreciated. But stillthe term Graffiti is perceived as synonymous with vandalism and visualized as a growing urban “problem” in many cities in industrialized nations.

Graffiti mostly involves letter-based tags and pieces. The use of the word “graffiti” has evolved over the centuries to refer to both text or graphics applied to surfaces. It ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings.Contemporary graffiti style has been heavily influenced by hip hop culture. Though graffiti is considered illegal activity so graffiti artists never reveal their real name on their graffiti and they also use fast and quick medium to execute the work. Most of the graffiti artists use spray cans while some use the scratch technique on walls.

Apart from Graffiti mural painting is another form of wall art and more accepted form of wall art.A mural is any piece of graphic artwork that is painted or applied directly to a wall or ceiling. It includes frescos, mosaics and marouflage.The history of murals is parallel to the history of humans. From carved walls in Egypt and mosaic works in Ancient Greece, to frescos in the Renaissance era, through to the political murals of the mid-20th century as seen in Latin America or Ireland. Unlike graffiti, murals are painted with permission, the artists are usually paid to paint the wall or ceiling. The term mural became better known with the Mexican muralism art movement.There are many different styles and techniques of murals. The best-known is probably fresco, which uses water-soluble paints with a damp lime wash, rapid use of the resulting mixture over a large surface. The colors lighten as they dry. The marouflage method has also been used for ages.

Contemporary murals are painted in many ways, using oil or water-based media. Acrylic emulsions are most common medium for mural paintings because of its ease of use and quick dry quality. The styles can vary from abstract to realistic to three dimensional paintings. Today, the beauty of a wall mural has become much more widely available with a technique whereby a painting or photographic image is transferred to poster paper or canvas which is then pasted to a wall surface to give the effect of either a hand-painted mural or realistic scene.

Some recentwall paintings of Kolkata

As graffiti is illegal in India, most of the graffiti artists in parts of India also use fictitious name as their signature and create the art behind public presence, the actual names are unknown. There are some well-known names in Graffiti art in Kolkata like SREK, SHOCK, SNIK, SHAF, ETC. These young contemporary graffiti artists show their disagreement to the political nuisances through their graffiti. The street walls become the canvas late nights for SNIK, who developed a love for its Guerilla art while studying in Sydney. He runs a Kolkata-based restaurant and communicates with other such artists through social media platforms. Some streets in Kolkata are enriched with a high class of Graffiti art. For example, a hiking area in Kolkata, Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Road, is painted with Graffiti art all over in Bengali script. There are many street walls which are unnoticed where many parts of it are decorated with this unique artwork. However, there are wall paintings on many streets, not Graffiti, but paintings on walls. Birla Academy of Art and Culture is another well-known destination, where the boundary walls are painted with unique ideas. These artworks are Graffiti styled.

Recently an actor, Anirban Bhattacharya took initiative to change his locality to an artwork which is now become new attention for many eyes. Brahmapur, near Garia and Boral, is transformed into ‘Rong-Chhobi’. These arepaintings with mixed styles, including Jamini Roy style, portraits of eminent persons, simple animal paintings, and Graffiti style art.

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