5 Aug 2008

Is this art?

(Nalini S Malaviya)

Much has been written about the magic boxes that have been installed enroute to the new airport. These underpasses have failed miserably in decongesting traffic, especially at peak hours. Yes, I know, this column is about art and not civic issues, although one has to admit that our city roads just lend beautifully to an imaginative mind.
Coming back to the boxes, let’s begin with the first one that was built at Cauvery circle on Sankey Road. Those of you who have taken this route may have noticed the ‘art’ on the walls. There are visuals of an orange-coloured sun on either side of the wall as you enter the underpass.

According to some newspaper reports (which appeared around the time the magic box was opened to public), the so called mural was apparently designed and implemented by art students in an attempt to beautify these magical passes. I seem to remember these were done either free of cost or at a nominal charge covering basic material costs.
At the time, on seeing them, a friend had declared them a ‘monstrosity’ and an assault on the senses. I had nobly refrained from such epithets and had found them ‘childish’ but ‘not so bad’. Last week, when passing by, I noticed that the paintings on the wall look faded and patchy - the colour has actually left the surface in places, and therefore this cannot be ignored anymore. Whether there is a need for a mural in such locations is debatable, but once a project like this is undertaken one must do it right.
A mural or a wall painting requires specific skills, and a mural on an external wall that is exposed to the weather elements is that much more susceptible to wear and tear. We have some incredibly talented artists in the city who are known across the world, and there are a few who specialise in making murals. It is a complete mystery why the BBMP has not used the artistic and technical skills of those who have the expertise. The mural as it stands today is an eyesore and whatever the reason – budget or lack of skill - there is no excuse to inflict these on the unsuspecting Bangalorean and the odd tourist who happens to pass by.
Art on these walls fall under the realm of ‘public art’ and had they been conceptualised and executed with that in mind, we might have had a totally different take on this. Surprisingly, these ‘sun’ images have been duplicated at another magic box as well and they might be elsewhere too.
With these visuals multiplying at an alarming rate, I wonder if it is too late to do anything about them.

(Published in Bangalore Mirror)

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