Down the graffiti trail with Bengalurus Banksy

This edition features an artist whose work with colours knows no bounds.

To a child, the world is a canvas. Scarcely a centimetre of the walls at home is spared the creative efforts of a toddler with a crayon – the inevitable scolding that followed always seemed a reasonable price to pay! Our inhibitions overwhelm us over time and these creative outpourings dwindle until they are mere memories – until now. This is your chance to unleash your inner brat, whip out those crayons and give free rein to your imagination. Only this time, your work will no longer be confined to your home – they will be part of Stories of the Street, the latest public art initiative doing the rounds in Bengaluru. Stories of the Street (SoS) will turn the city walls into an experimental canvas for artists everywhere. This edition features an artist whose work with colours knows no bounds.

Shunnal Ligade might not be a household name just yet, but it’s quite likely that you will recognise his work. His creations dot the city walls: does the portrait that keeps you company over lunch at Biggie ring a bell? How about the bulbous man in blue playing a piano at Barebones, or the golden spectacles that adorn the woman at Gilly’s? It’s all part of his philosophy: Shunnal believes in painting till he drops, on anything he can lay his hands on.

The self-professed ‘bathroom painter’ will customise the walls of your washroom, cafe or the streets down which you walk.

As a child, Shunnal was always painting, with a penchant for picking up old things that lay around the house and turning them into something new. His proclivity for Mathematics led him to believe he would be a Chartered Accountant one day, a short-lived dream, as it turns out.

He was still a PUC student when he realised that his academic compulsions were a bore; things got so bad that Shunnal approached his father with his plan to drop out of college altogether. “Making a career out of art or graffiti didn’t strike me at once. It took me time to figure out where I belonged. I have been around, speaking to artists and understanding different art forms. That’s my word of advice to other artists, too: Take your time to learn, don’t pressurise yourself.”

He never could reconcile himself to the idea of art being confined to a gallery or a traditional canvas: the streets are his playground and Bengaluru, his inspiration. “Streets are more real. They are free. You can create any art that appeals to you: a message in writing, a drawing of a face, an abstract pattern – anything.” This love for graffiti opened up a vista of new urban experiences: He has travelled to Sri Lanka, Nepal and a host of other places to check out street art.

You can recognise his work through the trademark peace sign or a set of eyes. The former is a symbol of the calm that art provides, he explains. The latter is a tongue-in-cheek nod to cops, who constantly prowl the streets in search of creative renegades like Shunnal! He sneaks out onto the streets in the dead of night and generously proffers a tip: “A female companion and a Gandhi stencil will help you a great deal when the cops arrive!”

Shunnal has painted on everything he can lay his hands on, from helmets to walls and is constantly striving to learn new mediums like sculpting and wood texturing. At SoS, he welcomes artists across mediums. “Always remember who you are and where you come from and never stop painting,” says Shunnal as he takes his leave and heads off towards his newest canvas.

The exhibition is on at Church Street Social, NUMA Building, Church Street, in Bengaluru.

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