With large-scale murals adorning the walls of Kannagi Nagar, the intention was to transform the region into a vibrant and active space that would eventually usher in a lot of development.
“We have created four art districts ( Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Goa) in India and Kannagi Nagar will be the fifth one. The foundation looks for bigger canvasses that can be interpreted by artists and the public in different ways. Kannagi Nagar is a big neighbourhood and when we visited the place we understood that the community here is so wonderful and loves to explore the possibilities of art. The artists are creating works that reflect the characteristic identity of the area,” says Karan Kaul, the assistant curator of the St+art foundation. For this project, they have collaborated with Greater Chennai Corporation and Asian Paints.
If you happen to travel via OMR, then a quick visit to Kannagi Nagar is worth your time. Once you enter the neighbourhood, you can see huge murals adorning the buildings. A central theme guiding narratives of the artworks in Kannagi Art District is ‘People and Environment’, centralising the project to the residents’ present sources of livelihood, which range from working at construction sites, as porters or rickshaw pullers, and housemaids, etc, attempting to positively affect the image of the neighbourhood in the city’s collective imagination as well as humanise its residents to mainland Chennai.
While talking to Karan at the old police station office (the spot where the team meets), we saw artist Joyston Christopher Vaz taking his autorickshaw and moving to the main spot. We followed him and reached the venue — the artist was getting ready to enter a boom lift, a mechanical device that provides access to inaccessible areas. The scorching sun and heat weren’t going to stop Joyston. He smiles at us and says, “Come rain or shine, I will be working continuously for the next four days. The building where my artwork is going to display is in front of the park. So, to give the visitors an element of fantasy and fun and also help them think, I have decided to paint a maze that is inspired by underwater and botany.”
The team is hoping to complete the project by mid-March.