If you’re a guy or a girl about town, you must have noticed graffiti signatures and designs on walls and surfaces springing up here, there and anywhere.
Writing on the Wall
A bustling new paintbrush brigade of young men and women armed with cans and stencils have been going around painting the city red, blue and neon with random sketches, bubbles and silhouettes for the sake of ‘street art’. And in the process they are lending a vibrant look to city walls marred by political graffiti, paan stains and dung cakes.
Spot a random tag — the simplest type of graffiti — on a flyover wall or a street corner. Or a Metro Railway carriage that was tagged. Or an eye-catching piece, created by German graffiti artists, as you pass the German consulate in Alipore.
The Calcutta connection
Around 2009, graffiti and street art sparked youth interest in Delhi and Mumbai. And now Calcutta is playing catch up, from Paikpara to Patuli. The enthusiasm has grown rapidly in the past three months with more than 20 walls done up in a multitude of colours and patterns.
“A lot of shutters of shops have been painted with the owners’ permission. At this stage, it is still mostly for street art’s sake and honing of skills but at least a couple of them have messages in mind and are waiting to find the right spaces for everyone to see,” says 30-year-old Reevu Wangdi, who has spearheaded a part of Mission Graffiti after returning from Sydney last year.
Name of the G-game
Young artists, mostly between 18 and 25, have organised themselves into little gangs to have “fun”, to “find a fresh perspective to art” or to simply fit into the 'cool' bracket. If their artwork is cool, their names are quirky — try Zypher, Cruze, Freakin Twistrz, K-Krew as gangs. Or pseudo names for individual artists like D$C, Bhive and B-bob, S-Unit Xalxo, Roc A Locker and Slapnut Noobster!
You can’t miss their name tags either. If Justin signs off his tags with ‘JuS’, Remille’s tag is RemzI while his graffiti mate Missy J Lyndem is planning to change her tag from MjL to MistycK!Trend catching up online
A graffiti artist’s drawing book or sketch-pad is known as black book and K-Krew that administers the Graffiti Kolkata Facebook page also prides itself for playing an active role in converting aspiring 'sketchbook artists, known as black booker' to hit walls and become ‘graffiti writers’.
Initially, graffiti gangs were more dependent on the low quality but widely available variant of Chinese spray cans till the likes of Sabotaz and Montana entered the Indian market helping artists easily source them from Delhi.
Going by the demand and sale of spray cans, Huzefa points at “almost an 80 per cent rise” in the past six months.