Austrian artist, Jeremias Altmann has transformed the way the amphitheatre at one of Delhi’s most popular cultural hub looks like. By using spray paints of various colours, the artist, who usually works with black and white, has illustrated his vision of India.
A cultural hub dedicated to the crafts, food and festivities of India, Dilli Haat situated near the INA market in south of Delhi, caters to hundreds of visitors on a daily basis. Some of them who visit here regularly now have a rather colourful reason to sit in its amphitheatre and unwind in its relaxed environment. Austrian graffiti artist Jeremias Altmann has given the place a makeover by spray painting graffiti on its walls. Inaugurated by the Austrian Cultural Forum of the Austrian embassy and the Delhi tourism department, the street art depicts the artist’s impressions of India.
Altmann, 27, has created something what the officials are describing as the panchbhutam, or the five elements of life. Interestingly, the artist, who mostly paints using only black and white, has added different hues to bring this graffiti to life. An attempt to portray the vibrancy and the vividness of Indian cities and capture the essence of life he first saw here pushed Altmann to turn to colours.
“My works mainly use black and white lines and empty spaces,” said Altmann. “But when I stepped out of Delhi airport, at the very first sight of the country, I realised it would be impossible to capture its essence without colours.”
Fascinated and amazed by how daily life runs in a city like Delhi, by its numerous bylanes and tangled wires here and there, the artist tries to capture the rawness of Indian cities.
“Narrow lanes and sometimes even dystopian visuals — everything is so different from the sanitised, organised spaces in European cities,” Altmann says.
Altmann had first come to India without any paints and art kits, and it took him time to become familiar with Indian spray paints. But, now his works are being much appreciated by many. Following the popularity of his work at Dilli Haat, the artist has bagged an assignment at the Austrian Embassy.
In conversations about his work, his art and his passion, the artist claimed graffiti works like the one at Dilli Haat are the closest to his heart.
“These works in public spaces bring art out of the four walls of galleries into the gaze of the common man to whom they really belong,” he said. Talking of the impermanence of street art, Altmann marvelled, “Isn’t it fascinating that instead of removing the old, the new keeps getting added on the top?”
There are other places in Delhi where one can see Altmann’s work such as Malviya Nagar and Lodhi Colony. In April, he had painted more than five walls in the city. “When I draw on the streets of Austria, some people might stop by to look. But in Delhi, I am amazed that when I turn around, hundreds of people are standing behind me, observing and admiring my work. Delhi people are so kind that some of them even walked up to me to ask if I charged anything. When I told them I paint for free, they offered me tea and food,” he says.
Appreciative of his work, the Austrian Cultural Forum of the Austrian Embassy and the Delhi Tourism are now supporting Altmann who earlier did not have any institute’s support.