With the inauguration of Maqtha Art District, Hyderabad gets its first art district and India gets its third. First one being the Lodhi Art District in Delhi and second being Mahim (E) Art District in Mumbai. I joined St+art as a volunteer to provide logistical support to various artists involved in creating the Art District. Maqtha is an urban village in Hyderabad located close to the popular Hussain Sagar. Though the project started off in 2016 it couldn’t attract considerable eyeballs then. But that ignorance has been completely taken over by the curation of Art District in Maqtha in 2017.
St+art foundation, which is a public art-works company based in Delhi is the brain behind this concept.
They have curated the idea of converting a regular village Maqtha into a sought after landmark. The foundation received the necessary support from Telangana tourism and Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. Every year St+art foundation invites applications from artist all over the world to come up with their ideas and artwork. Once given a go-ahead by the foundation these artists paint their hearts out. Their ideas and messages flow through the bristles of the brush loaded with rich colours and give a new face to the otherwise boring and plain wall. For the conception of Maqtha, St+art foundation worked with 38 artists, which included 2 international artists, Delphine Delas from France and Sadhu X from Nepal.
I attended the launch of the campaign and got the opportunity to meet the faces behind the St+art foundation. Some of the takeaways from the meetup was as under:
Why the street art?
“The first being when we adorn the walls and the narrow lanes with colourful and meaningful art the locals themselves tend to keep the area clean and feel the need to take care of it. It comes from within.”
“The second point being art is for all, for everyone. There is no point making it accessible to just a few privileged ones. You and I can come to art galleries and watch the paintings and create our own muses but people in large don’t get to do that. By bringing the art on the street we give everyone a fair opportunity to discover their inclination towards art. It is not something which can be contained within walls with limited accessibility it is for everyone.”
“The third point emphasized what we are contributing to the world of art. India has a rich history and is inundated with forts, monuments and even with UNESCO World Heritage sites but if we don’t add to the treasures slowly and gradually it will only be depleted. Maybe we can’t build another Taj Mahal but we surely can transform an ordinary looking wall/lane into an extraordinary one. The Lodhi colony in Delhi is a must to-do-thing on every popular travel portal, she added.”
The idea behind Maqtha Art district is colour coding. Being a small village, Maqtha actually resembles a maze with the labyrinth of narrow and congested lanes. The fundamentals of the art district revolved around colour coding the lanes, which resulted in the formation of Yello gully, pink gully and blue Chowk. The artists have been allocated walls suiting their art and message and after that, there was no looking back. I was fortunate to visit the Art District on the day of the inauguration. CM KT Rama Rao inaugurated the art district on 19th December. He personally met all the artists (whoever was available and working) and congratulated all the people of Maqtha village for getting their own Art District.
My amazement level kept revving up with every turn. I was also fortunate to meet a few artists who I have been following on various social media for a long time. Every lane is a riot of colours, Since my words cannot do justice with the art I will let the art speak for itself. Following are the pictures from Maqtha Art District.
Artist: Nandita Ratan (Yellow Gully)
Nandita took the inspiration for this art from the narrow lane as it looked like a tunnel to her. Taking on from that idea she created surreal forms mindful of jellyfishes that float through the walls giving the otherwise rigid, and narrow street a fluid movement. Through her detailed mural, she aims to break the monotony of the space and transport the viewer in a tunnel open for imagination
Artist: Sadhu X (Blue Plaza)
Had a little chat with him and he explained the interpretation of his piece. However, he constantly focused on the fact that his art is open to interpretation. He might have a story behind the piece but if you stand and look closely you might come up with something of your own.
This Kathmandu based artist is known for juxtapositioning colourful geometric figures, fluid shapes and calligraphy. His art is in Blue Plaza and possibly the biggest and grandest in the whole Maqhta Art District.
Artist: Swathy & Vijay
The art evokes a lot of emotions and poses a direct question on the existence of humanity in the current world scenario. The piece is actually an illusion of a peeling wallpaper which makes the humanity not completely visible to the naked eyes. It’s an indirect way of communicating the rarity of humanity
Artist: Varun Vedavyas
The artist had used hand-cut Kufic Calligraphy stencils to incorporate his name into his typography based mural, which is a part of the Blue plaza.
Artist: Sunder Sukka
Influenced by Islamic architecture, Sunder Sukka’s mural is a colourful collage of geometric motifs, which encompasses visuals belonging to the rich history of Hyderabad.
Artist: Abhedya Bhagawan
The artist has used bright and striking colours and his art considering it is next to a school and kids would pass by it every day. it is one of the most colourful walls in Blue Plaza of Maqta Art District.
The artist has taken inspiration from all the tools and technology items that he could see all around like boom lifts, staple guns, brooms etc and have depicted them in a fun way. The idea he tried to convey is that these tools and technology isn’t always negative when used in a regulated way they could be an asset for development.
Artist: Nikhil & Chandni
The shadow wall’ is located very close to the local school and because many children pass by. The artist wanted to do something interactive, something that is easily relatable to the old and young.
While this wall is very bright and easy to understand the presence of geometric shadows in the work brings out new realism and perspective to the painting while maintaining its simplicity. It also is an attempt to encourage children to imitate the shadow or make a paper boat. They also wanted the kids to appreciate art and nature in seamless interaction with each other.
To top it all, the drainage system of Maqtha is never under control and that makes it perfect for the duck and boat to swim in.
Artist: Harith Puram
In the pink lane of the Maqtha Art District, Artist Harith Puram pushes his artistic style by using an impressionistic technique to show the face of a happy child amidst a background of greens. Here he tries to remind us about the simple but essential act of ‘smiling’ and the importance of maintaining that in the lives of children.
Upon first glance, the work appears to be an abstraction of colours. This slowly reveals itself as a landscape of greens on closer observation, taking over the building with an upside down child portrayed in a playful manner.
Artist: Swathi and Vijay
This is possibly the most simple and thoughtful creations in the whole Maqtha district. The message is simply to connect with each other face to face and not over screens. We live next to each other but we aren’t really connected in real lives. Safety pins are the subtle representation of the connection that we need to develop. The artist uses two whimsy safety pins as binders between the different kinds of people in the different homes of the narrow lanes of Maqtha.
Artist: Nikunj Prajapati and Siddharth Gohil
This art piece goes by the name “Unusual Usual”. It’s an impeccable work of Nikunj and Siddharth and is one of the most imposing street art in the Maqhta district.
The artists wanted to create something funny with the aim of bringing a smile to the faces of people living in Maqtha. Maqtha is always lively, hustling and bustling with people from all directions and this could make them stop for a while and smile looking at the old man.
The art features an old man with one tooth who’s holding a toothbrush with just one bristle and a rooster on his arm. A usual morning scene but in a totally unusual way.
Artist: Alber V.times
This art piece is all about expressive eyes. Not that I got to capture it from the best of the angles but if you see it from the straight line of sight you will see two faces looking right at you with eyes full of emotions.
Maqtha District has many more interesting walls with meaningful work by various talented artists. I could only cover a few of them but if you get a chance to visit Maqtha make sure you take your own sweet time and explore the lanes of Maqtha District.
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