Jas Charanjiva’s Underground Art Tour of Mumbai
Jas and Arjun Charanjiva and Kunal Anand are the ultimate curators of cool. They’re also the co-founders of Kulture Shop, a Bandra-based store that’s fast become a hotspot for design fiends. Only two years old, it champions over 65 cutting-edge Indian artists from around the world whose works reflect a new Indian identity. No wonder it’s seen visitors like Coldplay’s Chris Martin, actor Dev Patel of Lion and Slumdog Millionaire fame and Major Lazer’s Jillionaire.
In 2014, when Kulture Shop opened doors it became the first of its kind. “After we moved to India from NYC, Arjun saw me struggling at getting my graphic art streetwear brand started. He knew I had the talent to create thought-provoking art that would sell, but I didn’t have the cash or know-how to start and run a successful business. This made him think that I must be one of many artists who need the right support and platform to get their art on to various products and sold,” Jas recounts.
Jas’s own works don’t just inhabit her store, she takes them to the streets too. Like her Pink Lady, who wears a knuckle duster that reads “BOOM” in a stark contrast to her sari-covered self. She’s every Indian woman, and was created in response to the 2012 gang rape. Her Pink Lady can be found on the streets of Colaba or Dharavi even. “The work I create on the street is intentionally easy to grasp and easy to forgive for being preachy because it’s cute, fun and adds some whimsy and beauty to their area. Typically, the kids from the neighbourhood will be the most fascinated with the work in progress. They ask questions, they tell me what they think, and they keep returning to see my progress,” she says. It fosters a unique sense of ownership.
So when Le Mill decided to let its walls wear swirls of colour, we roped in Jas to introduce us to other arresting pit stops you should make if you’re in the city:
With street art, some pieces last for years, while others are gone before you know it. Here are some of my favourite pieces that still alive and well.
Tyler x Waroox (Andheri West)
I really enjoy Tyler’s work. He’s Mumbai’s own Banksy. This elusive street artist chooses to touch on socio-political topics. He recently created this piece in Four Bungalows, with French street artist Waroox who was here from France last month. Their piece signifies the lack of opportunity for kids with dreams when money is scarce.
Tyler (Andheri West)
Tyler’s ironic work often revolves around socio-political themes. This is a very arresting piece on Versova Road that depicts one of the most unsettling and memorable images from the Vietnam War where a young girl is running naked on a road with her back severely burned by napalm. It would be interesting to know what Tyler is saying here about America. I can think of a couple things.
Rock (Bandra West)
French artist Rock’s work can still be seen around Bandra, years after he and his art partner would come to Bombay to paint the streets – together they’re known as Poch & Rock. In 2012, Rock painted this well-known piece on Chapel Road. It’s a favourite in the Chapel Road neighbourhood.
Ano (Bandra West)
The lively artist known as ANO from Taipei painted this blue elephant within just two days. It’s a fun piece that adds some sweetness to the busy intersection near Holy Family Hospital. Earlier this year I was asked by a brand to paint over this building. I told them “No way. You should re-think this.” The blue elephant is still around and safe for now.
Tika (Bandra West)
I’m a big fan of Tika’s work. She is so good with colours and shades. The Swiss artist’s work appeals to basically everyone. It’s cute yet has a very cool edge to it. This piece, on New Friends Building on Bazaar Road, conveys the diversity between animals who share this planet. She encourages people to “see the beauty of the present in this moment”. She also wants us to see that we can live in diversity and still share this planet in peace. I love that this piece is called New Friends.
Tika (Bandra West)
This piece, near Birdsong Café, was created on a day when Tika couldn’t continue her ‘New Friends’ mural. She created the iridescent scales of the creature’s tail with foil that’s used to package take-away food.
Amitabh Kumar (Bandra West)
Delhi-based Amitabh Kumar’s piece in his signature black and white style in Pali , is quite stunning. This was created a couple of years ago during the St+Art Festival. Amitabh’s work can be found on the street, in galleries and comic books.
Bond (Bandra West)
German artist Bond has a beautiful black and white piece on Mount Mary near the Basilica as you’re walking up from Bandstand. Bond has been invited a few times to paint in India. His work always has his name incorporated within it.
Luis Gomez de Teran (Bandra West)
One of my all-time favourite pieces is by fine artist turned street artist Venezuelan-born Luis Gomez de Teran. Gomez was invited to Mumbai by St+Art India. Gomez’s stunning mural can be found on the side wall of Bandra’s Jude Cafe. It’s called ‘Estasi’, “ecstasy” in Italian. Gomez’s chiaroscuro-style wall pieces are easily recognisable.
Ranjit Dahiya x Jas Charanjiva (Bandra West)
Many of you have seen Mumbai’s most famous mural that took Ranjit Dahiya over 800 litres of paint to create, the one of Dadasaheb Phalke, where he uses the MTNL building in Bandra as his canvas. Another fascinating mural sits deep inside Bandra. While smaller in size, this two-storey-high artwork of Mogambo was created by Ranjit in 2012. My contribution to his brilliant work was my character offering Mogambo a modak.
Sameer Kulavoor (Kala Ghoda)
In Kala Ghoda, you’ll find Sameer Kulavoor’s freshly painted mural called ‘High Five!’ on the outdoor walls of ARTISANS’ gallery. This beautiful work of art wrapping around the building, celebrates the DIY culture and the work we create with our hands. Sameer is one of the original artists on the Kulture Shop platform.
Nina Pandolfo (Colaba)
Nina Pandolfo was invited to exhibit her work at Gallery Maskara back in 2008. Nina is a celebrated artist in Brazil and is globally recognised as a prominent artist. She is married to one of the brothers of OSGEMEOS, the world’s most famous street art duo. The street art she painted on the outer wall of Gallery Maskara, on 3rd Pasta Lane, depicts her signature style using wide-eyed girls with child-like features.
The twin brothers Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo of OSGEMEOS (which means “the twins” in Portuguese) accompanied Nina on her visit to Bombay in 2008. This piece, also on 3rd Pasta Lane, is the only remaining OSGEMEOS work in the city that hasn’t been painted over. I consider their work a gift to the city.