Friday, October 23, 2009

Images on the roadside

After having all the hoardings on Chennai's streets removed, the next step for the Corporation of Chennai was to clear posters and graffiti from all the public walls in Chennai. Though the hoardings came down more than 18 months ago, there was a long gap before the next step was implemented (guess the elections had something to do with it). Effective August 1 of this year, all random art and pastings on flyover and subway walls have been banned. The ban also extends to any public walls on Mount Road.

Bringing the hoardings down signalled the end of the huge, originally hand-painted but recently digitally-crafted cinema advertisements which were very much part of Chennai. And now, the bare walls would take away another slice of kitschy art: political graffiti. The limited set of colours used by earlier political artists (colours of the parties flags) had given way to bright, multicoloured works a while ago. It was felt that bare walls would make the stretch of road seem dull, so the Corporation kind of let loose a set of artists on those walls. The first stretch to be done was a stretch near the YMCA, Nandanam.

With a variety of themes - buildings and structures of Tamil Nadu, sculptures and cultural heritage being a few - and a good dose of imaginary imagery thrown in, the paintings seem rather unconnected, if one spends the time to look at them. But for the most part, one is whizzing by in a hurry to get someplace and the overall effect is that a riot of colour is passing one by!

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