This charming southern coastal town is famous for its friendly residents, great food, beautiful backwaters, and a general sense of joie de vivre. It is the gateway to the gorgeous state of Kerala and recently a biennale has put the city on the world map of contemporary art. It was the biennale that started the spurt of vibrant graffiti splashing across the city streets and today many walking tours feature Kochi street art. In 2018, at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018, Kashi Gallery commissioned Jerusalem-based artist Meydad Eliyahu to work on a public art project called “Red Crown Green Parrot”. Incidentally, Eliyahu is a descendant of Malabar Jews, and Dubai-based Thoufeek Zakriya, a Muslim born and raised in Kochi. It was no wonder that “Red Crown Green Parrot” was destined to be a special one and Eliyahu put his heart and soul into it. The most famous work by this artist is influenced by a photo of his own great grandfather and other Malabari Jewish leaders. It clearly depicts the situation Malabari Jews had to deal with when they were forced by the Israeli government to move to Israel, leaving some family members behind. Sadly, like many other Malabari Jews, Eliyahu’s great grandfather passed away in Kochi after most of his family left for Israel.
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Kochi street art, its themes, and controversies
The most famous area to look for Kochi street art is Mattancherry. Here one can see much beautiful graffiti done by local and international artists. The local life of the common people seemed to be the most popular theme and some works were clearly influenced by Banksy. They are satirical and ironic. Spearheading this genre of Kochi street artists is Guesswho, an anonymous graffiti artist who has been active since 2012. His work revolves around socio-political issues. Titled India’s ‘Banksy’ by BBC, Guesswho is famous for his provocative work, especially since he openly denounced and criticized the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. During my last visit in 2019, I stayed at Fort Kochi for a week and had the time to leisurely walk around the island. Thus, I came across many beautiful street arts, and here are some of the loveliest ones.
More on Kochi street art
NOTE – “Writings on the Walls” is an ongoing series in which I hope to collate awesome street art from around the world. If you wish to collaborate, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can take it from there. For more information on Kochi street art, check out these posts by Nomadic Shoes and Nimsaw
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