Trucks and Paint

indian-street-art[2] As all of Delhi awaited in the oppressive heat for an ever-elusive cloud-burst this summer, I found myself chomping on a protein bar pondering the artists who decorate trucks, roadside carts and dhabas. What got my mental wheels spinning was an article that I found in my inbox, forwarded by a kindred soul.

This led to my mind rebooting the bright colours, the festive lettering and of course the quintessential couplet to ward off the evil-eye that are part and parcel of this art-expression. The kitsch, cut-and-paste quality of this art-tradtion (can you label it anything else ?) captures one’s imagination – and caters to instant gratification.

How? By making us smile, laugh-out-loud, and even salivate at that pan or kulcha-wala’s stand. And if you are looking for an academic label for these painters and their creations, you wouldn’t find a better one than Pop! The use of pop-culture icons such as Amir Khan and Aishwariya Rai to sell everything from juice to mechanical parts, would make even Andy Warhol jealous. Days went by and my internal slide-show of these works created by street-painters just wouldn’t pause or stop.

So, inspired by these decorated monster vehicles, street vendors and especially Dhabas, I was promted to conduct a deeper investigation, albeit, an oline one, that kicked up many links/sites/articles. Each one collated by others who had fallen in-love with these painted-giants aswell.  For me, the project that wowed me, and one that I feel is in direct dialogue with the artists who have created this unique and uplifting visual lexicon is www.handpaintedtype.com

Conceptualised and initiated by graphic designer and artist Hanif Kureshi, handpaintedtype seems to be born out of two simple desires, to create and to preserve. By going directly to the artists themselves, handpaintedtype aims to canonise, record and digitise this body of work.

Hanif’s individual journey started with him spending his vacations training and working under street painters. So he was off to study at the Faculty of Fine Arts, in Baroda and finally to Wieden+Kennerdy in New Delhi, India, where he started this project of protection and innovation. An inspiring journey, and an even more inspiring venture, the project is alive due to collaboration and contribution. Get involved at http://www.handpaintedtype.com/#contribute

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