A slice of India shines bright on the Hong Kong walls

Artworks by Mohan Prajapati (miniature art), Sai Kiran (Cheriyal), Adarsh Appukkuttan (Kerala mural) and Sudheer Innakallu (Kalamkari) find place in Kathaa, a community-driven Indian mural festival

Kalamkari and Kerala murals, Cheriyal scroll and miniature art… what is Indian art doing on the walls of Hong Kong?

Cheriyal mural being painted in Hong Kong | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The bold, colourful strokes narrated Indian stories, as part of Kathaa, a community-driven Indian mural festival held recently. The festival, a collaboration between Gurugram-based art start-up MeMeraki and Hong Kong-based NGO HKWalls murals, featured works of Indian artists Mohan Prajapati (miniature art), Sai Kiran (Cheriyal), Adarsh Appukkuttan (Kerala mural) and Sudheer Innakallu (Kalamkari).

Yosha Gupta | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Kathaa is a showcase event for Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav and has been made possible with the support of the Consulate General of India in Hong Kong, informs Yosha Gupta, founder of MeMeraki.

With COVID-induced travel restrictions in place, the artists could not execute the works personally, so instead sent their artworks to Hong Kong where they were recreated on the walls by Hong Kong artists Ahmad Rida Nisar, Aron Tse, Ruby Law and Shweta Rastogi at 51 Sai Street, Rich View Terrace, Sheung Wan, Hollywood Road and Heung Yip road— Sitting Out area.

Cheriyal mural painted in Hong Kong | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Communicating through email, Sydney-based Yosha calls Kathaa an amazing way to showcase Indian arts and heritage globally. “This puts the spotlight on our master artists in a new, collaborative and fun way; The festival has engaged the community with many people volunteering and participating to paint along. It was equally fascinating to see the artists from Hong Kong who are not familiar with intricate Indian arts recreating it so beautifully.” For volunteer artist Urmi, a native of Palakkad in Kerala and now residing in Hong Kong, temple paintings bring back her childhood memories. She is happy the art has come to Hong Kong ‘especially in times like these when homesickness has peaked with no respite.’ Artist speak

  • Mohan Prajapati
  • I was a little concerned as this is the first time that I wasn’t painting but someone else was painting my work. My inspiration is from the old Mughal artworks that look beautiful as a modern mural too. I didn’t feel bad about not going to Hong Kong as safety is paramount now. I always be proud and cherish this moment. We were worried how arts will survive in the pandemic but thanks to these initiatives, there are new ways to take art to more people.

  • Artist Sai Kiran | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

  • Sai Kiran
  • I wondered if people in Hong Kong will appreciate Cheriyal art that is rich in local motifs and also worried if artists there can paint the artform’s distinct style but seeing the mural has filled my heart with pride. They have followed the process and have done it well like original Cheriyal artists. Although we couldn’t travel, the videos told our stories.

  • Artist Sudheer Innakallu | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

  • Sudheer Innakallu
  • It was a challenge to create the artwork and send it to Hong Kong as it was constantly raining in Chittoor. There was no power so it was tough to get everything ready in time for the event. My artwork is inspired by the Tree of life. I am thankful to the artists in Hong Kong for painting the mural so well as Kalamkari art is not easy. I was also sad that I could not go personally as this would have been my first international trip.

  • Artist Adarsh Appukkuttan | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

  • Adarsh Appukkuttan
  • I used traditional motifs, patterns and a colour palette for the Kerala mural. I did not encounter any difficulties while painting and sending it. I would have loved to go to Hong Kong and explain the artwork myself but given the situation, we did what was best. I feel very proud and happy that the local artists in Hong Kong have done the way a Kerala mural should be

Kerala mural painted in Hong Kong | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The murals size varies with Cheriyal scroll leading the group at 9.54X2 meters and Kalamkari at 6.34 X 2.77 meters. MeMeraki and the artists brainstormed to narrow down ideas on what would work best for the walls, based on their size. “We try to incorporate the most iconic motifs of each style of art like the tree of life in Kalamkari with stylised peacocks, birds and flowers, arches and irises from Mughal miniature art, peacocks with ornate motifs in Kerala murals and a typical rural village scene from Cheriyal art,” shares Yosha.

The first edition of Kathaa began in 2020 with artists Anil Wangad (Warli), Venkat Shyam (Gond art), Apindra Swain (Patachitra) and Ranjeet Jha (Madhubani) painting murals in Hong Kong. “The Madhubani mural was a beautiful amalgamation of India and Hong Kong with the Hong Kong skyline depicted in Madhubani motifs,” she recollects.

Artist Rida Nisar painting miniature art in Hong Kong | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

It is a moment of pride for Mohan, Sai Kiran, Adarsh and Sudheer as this is their first international exhibit. While Mohan from Jaipur in Rajasthan is a miniature practising artist for the past 40 years, Hyderabad-based Sai Kiran is a fourth-generation Cheriyal Scroll artist from his family. Adarsh from Attappadi village in Palakkad, Kerala was trained in Kerala mural art from the mural institute run by the Guruvayur Devaswom and has also worked on many art conservation projects and Sudheer, a third-generation Kalamkari artist and his wife from Kalahasti in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh work with over 40 other women Kalamkari artists. Travel restrictions compelled the team to record short films on these artists and upload them on their social media channels, by way of introduction.

There are plans to organise events at cafes and restaurants around the artistic walls to create awareness and give photoshoot opportunities. “Each mural will have a hashtag through which people can search and know more about it,” adds Yosha, who hopes to host Kathaa as an Indian mural festival across the world. “My next stop is Sydney, where I have moved just six months ago.”

Source: Read Full Article