The art of graffiti has come a long way and mesmerizes millions. The elegant drawings in the thousands of years old Caves D’Arcy in central Florence, the heroic imagery of the Russian troops who seized the Reichstag and the modern graffiti forayed in Philadelphia and New York in the sixties, all signify its journey.  

Subway Graffiti in New York, The MIT Press, 1982

Chronicling the Yesteryears

Continually present even in prehistoric times, graffiti dates back to ancient Greece, Egypt and the Roman Empire. The first wall drawings appeared in the caves of the early man and the ancient Greeks and Romans carved on the walls. The term “graffiti” was first used by novelist Normal Mailer and in 1971, The New York Times printed an article about TAKI 183, a kid from Washington Heights who left his signature everywhere he went; TAKI being his nick name and 183, the street where he resided. The appearance of such an uncommon name and number ignited public interest leading to the Times article.

The NYT article in 1971

Lee Quinones, often referred to as a graffiti king, was one of the avant-gardists of New York’s street art movement. Considered to be the single most influential artist to emerge from the graffiti era, he painted an entire train from end to end and exhibited his work on canvas in Claudio Bruni’s Galleria Madusa in Rome.

As Lee’s work gained popularity, his creations became a combination of hip hop and punk rock

Popular artists like Banksy and Ron English, with their defiant and unapologetic art, revolutionized graffiti and led the pop art movement in the late nineties and early 2000. The Director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Jeffrey Deitch quotes, "The art that emerges on the streets is absolutely real art, and the best of it is as good as the contemporary art that begins in the galleries."

Banksy’s art on the streets of London

India and Her Artists

Once considered rebellious and dissident, graffiti has evolved greatly in the Indian subcontinent. The erstwhile guarded artists are now painting their vivacious creations in full day light and are invited to widely followed festivals like Hornbill, Nagaland and NH7 Weekender, Delhi; to the coolest and most hip cafes; to art movements like St+Art, and are slowly but surely making a big entry in modern interiors. The most renowned graffiti artists like Zine, Stak2, Samsam, Daku, Zake, Elf, and others are making the graffiti scene in India big, vibrant and alive.

A renowned local artist, Zine embraces hip-hop. His style ranges from free style to bubble

Catchy, unique and effervescent, graffiti is increasingly used to reimagine interior spaces. Doubling up as beautiful artwork meanwhile giving your space an edgy, innovative appeal, the art ranges from bright hued hip hop motifs to subtle stencil style designs.

Big city interior graffiti

So whether it is on the streets or in art galleries, via spray paint or digital media, illicit or finding a place within legitimate realms, graffiti has assimilated and incorporated innumerable styles, forms and approaches. Promoting self-expression, graffiti is all about unleashing the rebel within. 

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