New Delhi, Mar 3 (PTI) Delhi’s vibrant art district in Lodhi Colony has now some new quirky residents — a flying ‘fish’, an ‘owl’ on roller skates and a ‘flamingo’ on a bicycle.
This colourful, surrealistic menagerie has been imagined by two women — a graphic novel artist from Germany and an architect-illustrator from India — who joined hands to create a dazzling mural in the heart of the national capital.
The Indo-German collaborative work titled ‘Fish Out of Water’ took two weeks.
Besides depicting flora and fauna, it draws its essence from the idea of travelling and experiencing a new culture, as also “travelling in one’s mind” to places that don’t exist on a map.
Aashti Miller, an architect by day and an illustrator by night, said, “The idea of travelling in one’s minds essentially happened during the pandemic when lockdown and new safety norms essentially meant there was no physical travelling. The artwork also draws from that aspect of life”.
Mumbai-based Miller, 28, and Greta Von Richthofen, 33, who can also be dubbed as ‘fellow travellers’ for this project given the theme of the artwork, interacted with a group of select guests at the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan in Delhi on Wednesday evening after a curated walk in the Lodhi Art district, where virtually every other wall has a mega mural.
Anja Riedeberger, Director, Information and Library Services, Goethe-Institut, South Asia, said the mural in Delhi and another one that the two artists will work together on in Chennai, are part of a larger project called ‘Graphic Travelogues’ of the Goethe-Institut.
The project focuses on the depiction of travel in comics and graphic novels and brings together artists from around the globe to create a digital platform focusing on the subject of travel and its evolution during the pandemic.
Miller and Greta in their artistic collaboration for the mural have also married the culture and sensibilities of the two countries with a surrealistic imagination.
“The art is called ‘Fish Out of Water’ and there is actually a fish on the wall, but it has wings and it is flying.
“This depicts the experience of travelling out of a familiar place to a new culture and the element of surprise and unease one might feel, but not in a negative way,” Miller told PTI.
Also, there is an Indian owl on roller skates and a flamingo riding a bicycle, and there is a flying whale too. It’s a motley crew, she said.
Greta echoes her views and adds that as it’s an Indo-German collaboration, a German bird called Blaumeiser has also been depicted in the mural, but the work is an “amalgamation of our efforts” and a “shared vision” despite cultural and linguistic differences.
Miller, who did her masters degree in architecture from Cornell University in 2017 and works for a US-based firm, said the artwork was first conceived through sketches and was later translated into a mural.
“But, the final work is very different from what was conceived in the sketch form, as it kept evolving. Initially, it had a dominant blue hue but based on feedback and incorporating the colours seen in Delhi it took the current shape,” said Greta, who has a degree in visual communications from a university in Kassel, Germany.
The artwork also depicts parachutes in mid-air and a pair of hands, holding a pencil. Miller said, “The hands are in Delhi, but the head will come up in Chennai”.
“The theme is travel and we are literally travelling from north to south India, from one culture to another, to do the second mural together at an art festival. So, the two murals are physically separated but are parts of a whole, as imagined,” she added. The artwork in Delhi has been created under the ‘Graphic Travelogues’ project of Goethe-Institut in partnership with St+Art, a Mumbai-based art group, whose previous projects have transformed Lodhi Colony in central Delhi into a ‘Lodhi Art District’.
Asked if the existing projects were on their minds while working on ‘Fish Out of Water’, Miller said, “I did go and see the existing murals and it was a bit scary as I am in the initial phases as an artist.
“But, not knowing what we will be able to accomplish was also an advantage as we didn’t pre-empt our work, and the result was surprising and delightful.” “We had fun making this, and we hope people will have a whale of a time, watching this mural,” she said. PTI KND NB NSD NSD
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