A three-day Wall Art festival initiated by Alliance Francaise de Hyderabad and coinciding with IIITH’s silver jubilee celebrations came to a kaleidoscopic end with the formal unveiling of the transformed staircase at Himalaya by Shri Jayesh Ranjan, President of Alliance Francaise Hyderabad.
Unlike other walls on campus that typically spring to life with eye-catching murals, abstract art and portraits during the annual cultural festival Felicity, the brand new wall art on Himalaya’s staircase is a bit special. The transformation is the result of a three-day Wall Art festival that was initiated by Alliance Francaise de Hyderabad in collaboration with the International Institute of Information Hyderabad.
The Wall Art festival is an effort by the French Institute in India, the network of Alliances Francaises in India, JSW Paints and their partners to celebrate art and culture in Indian public spaces through visual artworks. As part of the festival, French wall artists Kid Kreol and Boogie, Olivia De Bona, Neethi and Mr. Poes are travelling across 13 Indian cities to add colour to walls.
When Spiral Staircases A Canvas Make
After leaving their mark in Pondicherry, the artist duo Kid Kreol and Boogie halted at IIITH in Hyderabad where they opted for the spiral staircase at Himalaya as their canvas. “Regular, flat walls can be found anywhere and they are the same whether in France or India. But this spherical structure (of the stairwell) was very unique. When we arrive at a place, the place shows us how to draw and we put our heart into it. In Pondicherry, it was a long wall in a street where we painted a large, sleeping figure. (But here) it was natural for us to choose this (stairwell) because it is special. It is like a frame within which we improvise,” reflects Kid Kreol.
Time Travel Through Colour
As residents of Saint-Denis in the Reunion island, much of the artists’ work is evocative of their Reunionese Creole heritage. With little known however about the region’s history before the 16th century, the duo who had been drawing and painting only in black and white until recently, decided to make a switch to colour. The turnaround is an attempt to recreate their past and discover their lineage. “Through our art, we went all the way back in time where in the beginning there was only light. But if you split it up, you find a spectrum. Hence there are 24 colours on this staircase, with the undulating lines symbolising nature, topography of the region, the shape of the sea, sound waves or even the loops and whorls of individual fingerprints,” clarifies Kid Kreol. The bright wavy lines have been spray painted on to the wall against a navy blue backdrop. According to the team, as art is wont to do, the blue denotes a deep kinship between the two countries of France and India. “We’re connected by the ocean,” states Boogie, implying that the Indian landmass and the Reunion island were once one before the tectonic drift.
Silver Jubilee Celebrations
The Wall Art festival is originally part of a four month-long Indo-French cultural, literary and scientific collaboration – Bonjour India. “We were looking for an institute that represented culture, science and education and found IIITH to be a perfect fit,” remarks Shanthala Veigas, Culture and Communications Coordinator, Alliance Francaise Hyderabad, alluding to the curriculum at IIITH that has arts (which includes dance and music) as an integral part of undergraduate education. Remarking that it’s especially gratifying to conduct cultural events in universities and colleges, because the soul of the city or nation resides in its youth, she says, “For youngsters, it’s a memory for life.”
The completed artwork at IIITH campus was inaugurated by Sri Jayesh Ranjan, IAS , Principal Secretary, Dept. of IT and Industries, GoTS and President of Alliance Française of Hyderabad Executive Committee along with guests of honour Shri Prshant Lahoti, owner of Kalakriti Art Gallery and recipient of the award ‘Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ from the French Government for his contribution to the field of Art; well-known artist Mrs Anjani Reddy, and Isabelle Collin, Co-CEO of Dennisco and wife of the Honorary Consul of France in Hyderabad.
The inaugural event included a few song and dance performances by students, showcasing their various talents.
For the institute itself, the timing of the festival couldn’t have been more fortuitous coinciding with its silver jubilee celebrations. With the visual artwork being interpreted differently by the artists, and students alike, Prof. P J Narayanan, Director of IIITH remarks, “I particularly liked the imagery of it being growth rings or age lines of trees. As the institute completes 25 years, we get to imprint such lines deeply onto the institutional trunk!” Terming the experience at IIITH as the first real Indian cultural immersion for them, the French artists who were visibly moved by the interactions with the other artists and dancers on campus sign off with, “We will remember this trip a long time and (we think) it will influence our practice”.