Inked incognito: Here’s one of the most best Covid-era Road art from world wide – art and culture


It’s one of the crucial few things on offer free, decidedly not for sale. It is such a lot art for art’s sake that the artist Invader of Paris, France — who creates his work the usage of mosaic tile — switched to tile that breaks apart whether you try and prise it out of the wall, because he didn’t want his work owned or sold.

Road art — the subversive, nameless type — is meant to make you stop, think, re-evaluate. In Bogotá, Colombia, the artist who goes by Stinkfish has change into known for taking photographs of strangers, blowing them up, stencilling them onto walls and splashing vivid colours on them to cause them to stand out. He’s drawing your attention absent not from other Road art but from the vapidness of billboards and hoardings, the faces famed for being pretty or blown up to giant size because they’re pretty famed.

Guarding anonymity is tough when each passerby is armed with a camera. So Insurgent Bear paints in a pink bear suit. Invader wears playful Halloween masks. In India, as world wide, many nameless Road artists work by night. And the next morning, your native Stop signal says “STOP Promising” or “STOP Posing”. (Recent works by Daku in Delhi).

The pandemic made it easier for these artists to work anonymously, with the roads abandoned and the nights quieter than usual. For Zake in Mumbai, the macabre day by day death tolls prompted some of his darkest work. It pushed AnonyMouse to create, through the pandemic months, four elaborate installations: a tiny, pavement-level record store for mice, pharmacy for mice, student dorm for mice, and a whole harbour, whittled down to mouse-scale.

“It creates a little mystery, a bit of on a regular basis magic,” AnonyMouse said, speaking to Wknd via email.

The one advantage of the camera in the hands of each passerby is that you don’t have to walk by the art to see it.

In the pandemic, with commute curtailed, social media allowed artists and fans to take the most recent works of art — by nature, temporary; meant to get replaced, plastered over, painted on top of by another artist — to the world before they were gone eternally. And so we will still marvel at the giant whale’s tail created by Australian sand artist Edward, before it was once washed absent in a couple of hours by the tide. Muse on his message of all that’s in the market, at risk, as a result of our remedy of the soil.

“Energetic, politically biological graffiti is a society arguing with itself,” says art critic and curator Ranjit Hoskote. In the larger cities, he adds, it can take the form of privileged artists working with corporate backing. It’s the nameless artists who challenge the established line, make statements that can make people and the establishment uncomfortable.

“Anonymity provides you with the sense of being a guerilla activist,” Hoskote says. “It gives you some protection from government persecution and stops your message from being neutralised by a corporate agenda.”

Here, then, is a look at what some of India and the world’s most famous nameless Road artists have been up to in the pandemic.

Paintings on the wall by The Insurgent Bear

Glasgow, Scotland

The Insurgent Bear has been engaged in the lockdown, with a minimum of one new piece of their Road art appearing in Glasgow each month. Fear & Love, a stencilled couple with masks pulled down to steal a kiss (above), showed up in early March. Then came Lockdown, a man weighed down by a virus-shaped ball and chain.

As videos of animals reclaiming space were shared on social media, they also showed up on a wall in Glasgow, in a celebratory procession. “Long live the lockdown,” one placard read. The paintings are all in black and white, garnished by a unmarried item in one colour. Blue facemasks, a green virus.

The main challenge, Bear says, speaking to Wknd via email, “was once to make pieces that would supply hope, consolation and humour all the way through a time of uncertainty and fear.”

A masked medical professional curling her hands into a heart; Jason from the Friday the 13th movies wearing a surgical mask over his hockey one — the Insurgent Bear is prolific and mysterious, recognised for their art, but with only urban legends approximately their identity and whereabouts. Coordinates to each and every new work are posted on their Instagram account, where they’ve almost 40,000 followers.

They first appeared on the scene three years ago, and have been spotted several times and photographed, in a pink bear costume. Bear describes their mission as otherworldly. “I used to be sent here as the most atypical character possible to reflect the atypical nature of your societies,” they say. “My goals are to make you think and confidently raise a smile.”

The works have a tendency to be thought-provoking critiques of capitalism, consumerism and religion, in addition to our addiction to the internet and the desire for fame. Bear has taken over billboards, Road signs and bus stops with messages of truth (“You don’t seem to be going to be famed”) and hope (“No wish to consume more. You are all good as you are.”).

A Free Palestine / Free Wi-Fi piece appeared close the Glasgow University Library, while Donald Trump’s slogan was once altered to read “Make The usa Great Hate Again” (with the Great crossed out).

The art is an attempt to make us think in a different way, question society’s expectations, pause in our chase for careers, technology, status — all of which, Bear says, distracts us from what we must be doing.

Which is? They once wrote the answer on a wall in Glasgow, they say: “Your heart is free. Have the courage to follow it.”

Bear has also created work in France and the United Kingdom, and sells prints and canvases on, at prices ranging from £90 (approximately Rs 9,000) to £495 (approximately Rs 49,000).

Tiny mouse houses via AnonyMouse

Malmö, Sweden

Over four years, a fabulous mouse-sized world has been taking shape at pavement level, in all places the Scandinavian city of Malmö. More than 25 nibble-sized constructions are wedged into the sides of buildings, furnished with things familiar and forgotten.

Bottle caps are table-tops, half opened fish tins are repurposed as cosy beds and earphones double as speakers; a champagne cork is used as a chair, a matchbox, a desk, a seashell becomes a lampshade and stamps change into paintings.

In the back of this charming, eclectic art is AnonyMouse (@anonymouse_mmx), a collective of nameless artists made of “mice and men” (the men [and women] too work best at night, quiet as mice). Staying nameless is key to world they’re creating.

They’ve created a restaurant with a cured meats display window, an “amousement” park with tiny giant wheels, a jazz club, a commute agency, a hotel with little rooms, a tiny clothing store next to a tiny Indian restaurant called Paneer (above), a gas station in a jerry can, total with working pumps. Each and every comes furnished and lights up.

“For children, the idea is that it could be made by mice,” they say, via email. “Kids like to consider that there’s a world parallel to ours where small animals live fairly like we do; recycle things that we have got missing.”

And for adults? “It creates a little mystery to the extent that any one could have created these – your neighbour, a group of retired women, a circle of relatives with their children. Your fantasy comes to a decision!”

They never reveal where or when they’re putting up an installation. You’ll be able to find clues in the photos posted on Instagram, but it’s best to come upon an anonymouse house accidentally.

“Our objective is to cause a little bit of on a regular basis magic to children and pedestrians passing by,” they say.

Rarely have pieces been vandalised or removed. “People have a tendency to put extra objects at the houses, like Christmas trees or cars or dolls of more than a few sizes,” AnonyMouse say.

They’ve also created installations in Bayonne in France, and hidden miniature fairytale buildings across the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea.

Three new constructions have come up in the pandemic — a student dorm, a record store, and a pharmacy. And just final week, they placed their largest construction yet — a total harbour.

They could show up in India. They have already got ideas. “A little market in Cochin, or a printing shop in Mumbai!” Don’t fail to remember to look down.

Faces you’ll never realize, by Stinkfish

Bogotá, Colombia

Whether Stinkfish (@stinkfishstink) has been to your city, you’ll realize. Photographic portraits of random people are blown up into enormous stencils, transferred onto walls and doused in decorative patterns and splashes of bright pinks, yellows, oranges and greens.

Stinkfish has been at it for a while, having made his first stencils in 2003. Wandering the roads of Bogotá and other great cities of the world is a part of his process. His camera is as fundamental a tool as the spray can. He never leaves home without it. He loves walking and watching, studying and capturing the faces of people around him, frequently without their knowledge.

“I take photographs of nameless people, which I use in my work,” he told Wknd. “They’re moments of real life, photographs without pose.” He also uses photographs he finds, or buys at flea markets.

“One of the vital reasons I fell in love with graffiti was once the mysticism of not knowing who did it,” he says. “I love the idea of placing images in the street without permission, without putting your name to it. Because what does the real identity of the person matter.”

For him the nameless portraits are a way of subverting the idea of fame. “This makes space for common people, those who don’t seem to be trying to sell you something,” he says.

For the first time in nearly a decade of fixed commute and work in the street, the pandemic has allowed him to rest, organise his photographic archive of 17 years and shape new ideas to cause to the Road.

“In the future I began to go out again close my house and paint a few walls,” he says. “They’re portrait works from photographs that I found in my archive all the way through these months at home.”

His murals have also appeared across England, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Austria, Russia, Mexico, Argentina and the USA. In 2013, he walked the roads of Delhi and left his mark at Majnu Ka Tilla, a Tibetan Colony, close the Red Fort, at Chandni Chowk and at the Jor Bagh metro station.

Circles in the sand via Edward

Barwon Heads, Australia

They’re like crop circles in the sand, sprawling homages to the natural world, etched onto beaches until the tide comes back in.

In January 2020, a 120-metre-long image of a koala clinging to a treetop as a fire blazed below, appeared on a beach close Barwon Heads, approximately 100 km from Melbourne, where Edward’s works most frequently appear. The sandy etching was once a tribute to the animals that had died in the intense Australian bushfires that started in June. By March 2020, they were estimated to have killed over 3 billion terrestrial creatures.

When the koala appeared, Australians were concurrently captivated and heartbroken by its massive size and ephemeral nature — a metaphor for the destruction that was once still occurring.

Edward (@breatheablueocean) has been taking over the beaches of Barwon Heads for five years and is also known as the Banksy of Barwon Heads, though their styles are nothing alike. His large-scale images turn into the complexities of nature into fluid and breathtaking patterns, the usage of squiggly lines and concentric circles.

Known in the neighborhood as Night Walker, he uses a stick or rake to attract the lines. “The drawing requires intense concentration. I use my imagination to construct a mental picture that I draw on for accuracy and symmetry,” he says. At daybreak, photographer Adam Stan, a long-time collaborator, sends up a drone to photograph the work.

Stan and he recently collaborated with Tourism Australia to send a message in the sand to Australians stuck in the United Kingdom because of Covid-19. “Around 110,000 people from the United Kingdom come to Australia to be with circle of relatives all the way through Christmas,” he says. “I have circle of relatives living internationally and I will be able to’t visit them. I felt this was once something I could share with them too, despite the fact that they don’t live in the United Kingdom.” The message “We can meet again” was once scratched on a beach in Victoria (above), flanked between a Christmas tree and two koalas.

Edward isn’t formally trained and revels in not being a professional artist. “I love being free to do my own object,” he says. “Commissions have other agendas attached to them.” He has a day job, in truth, and no one there knows of his other life as a sand artist.

But it is in his art, he says, that he gets glimpses of his soul.

Edward constructs his images better at night, he adds, unhindered by optical and other distractions. He in most cases starts work a couple of hours before daybreak, waiting for the tide to recede so he can draw in the wet compacted sand it leaves at the back of.

8-bit gaming-inspired art by Invader

Paris, France

He calls his work a form of “urban acupuncture”. His Road art — tiled mosaics of aliens and spiders, landscapes and cartoon characters — have surfaced on building facades in 79 cities world wide, each and every indicating: “Invader was once here”.

The pixelated style is inspired by early 8-bit computer graphics. His name and his recurring motif, the alien, come from popular ’80s video game Space Invaders. He helps to keep a record of each and every work created, and his oeuvre of nearly 4,000 “invaders” (as his pieces are called) could also be a part of a worldwide game.

A map on his website ( tracks the cities he’s invaded. Fans and followers chase down his work accordingly and, the usage of an app called Flash Invaders, photograph the Road art to gather points.

Invader (@invaderwashere) calls himself a UFA or Unidentified Free Artist and has been at work for over three decades. Most of his works are inspired by videogames or characters from movie and cartoon series such as Star Wars, Popeye and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (above).

“When I’m doing my Road invasions, I most definitely feel like an outlaw, and… I’m not all the time welcomed!” he told the art and culture Juxtapoz magazine in 2017.

Invasions in most cases arise in waves. Over a couple of weeks, he installs up to 50 pieces in an area, typically working at night.

In the day, he works in playful Halloween masks. He has been photographed, but his face is all the time shown pixelated. Over time his work has change into valuable too. The ceramic tiles he uses have been jimmied off walls and sold on eBay and at auction. One of his ceramic invaders sold for just about $350,000 at a Christie’s auction in 2015.

He has responded by the usage of tiles that break when you try to extract them.

The invasions are said to have begun in Paris in 1998, where his work is welcome and abundant. In India, Varanasi was once invaded in 2008, where he deviated from his use of ceramic tiles and used paint, influenced by the painted advertisements on walls along the Ganga.

In 2015, one of his pieces travelled to the International Space Station, with astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

It’s tricky balancing fame and anonymity, but he’s made it work. The world knows only a few things approximately Invader’s true identity — he attended the influential École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and is likely in his early 50s. There’s a legend that his real name is Franck Slama. Whatever his name, his game is far from over.

Politically mistaken with Lushsux

Melbourne, Australia

He calls himself the world’s first and due to this fact only meme artist. Lushsux (@lushsux) takes memes off the internet and paints them on walls, extending their shelf life. In the process, he both amuses and annoys his audience.

He’s painted, for example, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton in a skimpy stars and stripes bikini and US President Donald Trump kissing Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the roads of Melbourne.

Lushsux also loves mashups. Will Smith and Mike Tyson’s faces melded together, titled Freth Printh; Donye West as a tribute to the atypical friendship of Trump and the Black rapper Kanye West (above).

Lushsux is inspired by viral moments and evolving pop culture. His work is evolving pop culture too. In response to outrage over the Hilary-in-a-bikini image, he painted a burkha over her, leaving only the eyes visible.

“It’s a love or hate roughly object with my work, no middle ground,” the artist told Wknd over email. Still, with nearly 900,000 followers on Instagram, Lushsux is among Australia’s most prominent Road artists. As the start of the lockdown, he stepped out to paint Chinese president Xi Jinping with protein spikes in all places his face. And he continued to go out onto the roads, to cause to the offline world the things that internet users were laughing approximately and sharing.

He’s all the time worn a mask when he paints, to give protection to his anonymity (“I would quite be known for my work than my curves and pretty face”) and retain from inhaling spray can fumes.

Lushsux had his first gallery show in 2010 and has since shown internationally, including at Banksy’s Dismaland show in the United Kingdom in 2015.

He considers his work important, to the extent that he and the world a minimum of get a laugh out of it. “Because he who controls the memes controls the universe.”


Zero, Delhi

From Himachal Pradesh to Visakhapatnam, Zero (@zero_india) has painted a minimum of 100 walls during the last decade. In the lockdown, he we went around the Capital, creating works that are satirical, amusing and plenty of that just urge people to wear masks.

His most important work in these months is spread across 200 sq ft and three storeys floors of a building in Lodhi Colony(above). “The pandemic has been a stark reminder of our incorrect relationship with nature,” says Zero, 30.

The wall represents that complex relationship. The building’s entrance arch sits at the centre, acting as an entry point and divide between the two parts of the a story.

On one side is a concrete jungle and a man caught in an urbanised sprawl that seems to stretch eternally at the back of him. His face is that of a fox, representing the entire species trapped in our urbania. On the other side, a woman stands amid lush greenery, monkeys, sparrows and butterflies — species that were disappearing from the city, and are now out to play.

“The work portrays the possibilities of the Garden of Eden, as Nature reclaims its missing space and teaches us a lesson in curative,” Zero says. “It’s a reminder that we should lose something to rebuild better.”

Zake, Mumbai

As lockdown norms eased in August, Zake (@zake_india), desperate to paint on a wall for the first time since March, created a cranium (above), measuring 6 ft x 5 ft, on an exterior wall of a Bandra building. “I used to be in a very dark space,” says the event manager. “I used to be hearing approximately such a lot of coronavirus deaths. I found a form of expression in this work, which I completed in a day.”

A graffiti artist for eight years, he says his aim is to reclaim neighbourhoods, add character to walls close vacant spaces and even perhaps retain them from fitting dumping grounds. “I’ve seen people take ownership of a wall that has beautifully art on it. They stop littering and stop others from doing so too. That’s one of the crucial reasons I paint,” he says.

The pandemic has been his darkest phase. But by October, as the Covid-19 curve was once slightly flattened in the city, he found himself returning to his usual style – colourful, inspiring works.

“Like all graffiti artists I want my work to be seen, on a large canvas,” says Zake, 27, “but recognised by my artist name. That’s the essence of graffiti.”

A-Kill, Chennai

A-Kill (@ad57akill_t3k) photographs strangers in the street and recreates those faces on walls, with splashes of vibrant colour or occasionally just silvers and greys.

“I love to attract old people. Their wrinkles and their eyes are testament to all that they have got gone through and life as they’ve experienced it,” he says.

In lockdown, unable to paint on walls, he created works on canvas and honed his skill. “The lockdown gave me time to slow down, to mirror and re-examine my work,” he says.

He’s now in a position to head back out, and has the digital drawing in a position for his next solo piece — an old man with silver hair and spectacles (above), for which he’s now selecting a spot.

He’s also currently portray a part of a St+art work on a wall at the Amadi railway station. The work will feature 10 faces. Three are HIV+ but you’ll’t tell which of them. “It’s meant to show that, affected or not, we are all human,” says A-Kill, 29.

Rems, Shillong

Rems’s (@rems_vandal) graffiti style is Funk Wild. It distorts the basic constitution of the alphabet until it looks, in the beginning, nearly unrecognisable.

In the lockdown, the Nepali artist tried to incorporate letters from an ancient Nepali script, Newari, into his digital prints. “The attempt is to revive the old script, which can only be seen in a couple of parts of Darjeeling and in Nepal, on signboards,” says Rems, 25. “In the lockdown, I felt this urge to connect with my roots and these works are an expression of that.”

Final week, he painted a wall close a vacant lot in Silliguri, West Bengal, where he currently is. “People come here to pass the time. I thought why not give them something to have a look at, take into accounts and be inspired by,” he says. “I made this with the hope that, possibly, the kids of the village will like my work and wish to take up the art form as polite.”

Srek, Kolkata

Srek began portray on public walls a decade ago. He’s essentially a graffiti creator who plays with colours and the shapes and forms of letters to create enormous, attention-grabbing renditions of his name. In August, he chose a wall on the railway tracks en route Jadavpur (above), a engaged line, and created a 3D rendering in blue, orange and black.

“Graffiti art has many different techniques and as an artist I wish to memorize and master all of them. All my pieces on walls are written in different styles and techniques. That’s how I experiment and track my progress as an artist,” says Srek, 29. “I’m hoping that suddenly seeing this bright work of art will also make people happy.”

(Outline on art across India by Riddhi Doshi)

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