Chennai is Buzzing with a New Wave of Graffiti Artists

Graffiti as depicted in the musical drama series called ‘The Get Down’, captures the Hip-Hop scene in the South of the Bronx in the 70s which is a beautiful example of what graffiti as an art form can do. There’s been a very Banksy-esque graffiti culture developing in Chennai.

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A group of four boys from the city of Chennai are building a story in their city by painting it with their names and representing what they believe in. The names Dibs 132, Akill, Siken02 and Epoch appeared on walls across Chennai one morning. Their true identities were only found after they filled the city with their work. The youngsters Prasanth Baskaran, Mohammed Aqueel Hussain, and brothers Deva and Veera are a part of The Third Kind which is Chennai’s first graffiti crew.

The Third Kind believes that graffiti as an art form doesn’t always need to have a deeper meaning and doesn’t always convey a social message. For them, it’s just a way of expressing themselves. The group were very careful in the initial days because their work could be considered as vandalism and it was illegal to fill public space with their art. Like many other graffiti artists, they would work in the nights and were even busted a couple of times. Eventually, they became famous in the city and they now have to take permission for all their projects.

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Their art is catching up and so are the restrictions on the content they can put out. Tamil Nadu as a state is politically sensitive and the group has been warned not to use politics as a subject matter. The artists believe that Hip-Hop and street culture is so young in India, that graffiti, which is a part of Hip-Hop should ideally represent the ordinary people and their culture but it may take some time to happen.

The Third Kind are a hit in the city, with being invited to judge art competitions in colleges and paint coffee shops and other cool spots in the city and they see this as a great sign of the times to come. While they are inspired by artists from New York and Paris, their work is unique and filled with Indian flavours and inspiring budding Indian artists.