The first thing you see when you enter the cheerfully painted premises of Berger House in Park Street is a painting of a woman on the right. The vibrant shades of red depict the warmth and passion for life, and a great deal of vitality. And to infuse such beautiful shades in the walls of Kolkata, Berger Paints India decided to start the Kolkata Street Art Festival a while back, where they got the permission from the Kolkata municipal corporation to paint over certain significant walls in Kolkata. I was invited to take part in an event where we were taken to different parts of Kolkata to see some of the artwork done so far.
The project has been mentored by artist and Member of Parliament, Jogen Chowdhury, where a team of artists worked with eminent artists Mr. Barun Saha and Mr. Rintu Roy to create art on the walls. Unlike graffiti art or street art, the walls of Kolkata were done up in a rather different manner – these showcase the modern art scene of Bengal, and the areas selected are, for the time being, around central and south Kolkata, and in time, a huge number of walls will be made available for future endeavors.
The inspiration for such a street art festival came from existing street art festivals happening around the globe – from Rishikesh’s amazing street art to the beautiful artwork seen in Portugal, USA, Iceland or Japan, its inspirational to see how contemporary artists showcase art to the masses.
We started the journey at Berger House, where after a briefing, we were taken to the walls to illustrate the work the brand has done in collaboration with the artists. The first task for them was to select the walls which could be showcased. This was followed by obtaining permits from Kolkata Municipal Corporations. Then, the walls were cleaned up and fixed in order for them to be colored. Most of these walls were old and needed more than just a repaint. This was a crucial part for the safety of the artists as well. Then, different themes were selected for each wall. Eden Gardens had walls showcasing sports and Indian victory. We saw images of football and World Cup as well as women in boxing.
The theme for the walls near Exide Metro Station at Rabindra Sadan was fantasy. Being one of the busiest areas, work wise, the artists wanted to add an element of fantasy and beauty to the otherwise commercial area.
For a location like Ballygunge, the focus was more on beauty and sensitivity. This wall was still being painted, and we met the artists who were working and saw, first hand, how these paintings were made.
Near Park Circus and in Topsia, the street art focused more on attracting the attention of children, and I loved the way children stopped and stared at the various pieces of artwork made there – from images of different animals to popular figures like Tom & Jerry, the artwork there could be easily related to. To ensure that these don’t get damaged easily, Berger Weather Coat is applied to make these images last longer. The themes also have been done to not depict any particular religion or political scene, which is also a great thing to do.
I absolutely loved the tour and was happy to see initiatives such as these by top notch corporate houses which are taking an active interest in the beautification of the city. I have posted photos on my Instagram and Facebook page – check them out! You can also follow the hashtag #KSAF to see more photos of the Kolkata Street Arts Festival.
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited to be a part of the initiative by Berger Paints India.