In his book Beyond Culture, anthropologist Edward T. Hall categorised both India and Brazil as 'Higher Context Culture' societies — a society where people are deep-rooted in traditions, are humorous and vibrant. Now, seeking to expand the possibilities of bilateral relations between these two countries are artists Harsh Raman Singh Paul and Sergio Cordeiro through a collaborative street art project, the Brinda Project. Through their initiative, they seek to involve people from both countries and promote mutual recognition of culture and art.
It started when São Paulo-based graphic designer Cordeiro chanced upon Mumbai-based designer Paul last year. "We met and immediately struck a chord because of our common interests and respect for each other's craft and passion. We discussed about Brazil and India — the cultures, the beliefs, the music, the differences and the similarities. Street art is very big in Brazil, especially São Paulo, but is still at a nascent stage here. We wanted to bring that culture here, starting with the streets of Delhi," says Paul.
This zeal led Cordeiro to seek assistance from the Embassy of Brazil in India that agreed to support the venture as it talks about the richness of the two countries through the unexplored medium of art in public spaces. "The embassy liked our idea and supported it. Sergio then went back to Brazil and put together a team comprising Amanda Sérvulo and Carina De Barros Fernandes, who with their talents and insight enriched the idea even further. Soon we became a research project of cultures through experiences, stories and art!" he adds. He further says that such social, cultural and emotional ties can help establish profitable and lasting relationships between the two countries.
As part of the project, the duo has blended their styles, lines, and colours to express their views about their cultures through murals scattered across the capital
As part of the project, the duo has blended their styles, lines, and colours to express their views about their cultures through murals scattered across the capital. With locations as contrasting as the historically significant Agrasen ki Baoli at Hailey Road to Hauz Khas Village, the hub of all modern day activities, the artists have explored concepts like faith, existence and jubilation.
"Despite being a beautiful monument, not many people know about the baoli. The moment we visited the place, we knew we had to do a wall here and it had to be big. We decided to do a piece on the most precious thing to a man – his faith, his superstitions and above all his belief in the almighty. Since religion is an integral part of both the cultures, we chose common elements like the Indian nazar battu and the Brazillian caranca; lord Ganesha and St. Mary; and the praying beads," says Cordeiro.
For their second work that explores the concept of life and death, they went deep into the heart of the Hauz Khas Village as it has a rustic feel to it despite hosting various music and art hubs. This contrast prompted them to add colour onto the walls of the village and propagate the idea of 'art for all'. "In our search for inter-cultural connections, it struck us that all humans are bound to die one day. Though it is the simplest concept, it always arouses of pain and is seen as a negative aspect of existence. We wanted to change this, talk about life and embrace death as a universal truth," shares Paul.
The mural on the third wall, outside Hauz Khas apartments revolves around music and dance, which is a big part of the cultural heritage of both the countries, and shows the metamorphosis of a classical Indian dancer into a traditional Samba dancer and vice-versa.
Though the team did not face problems securing permissions to paint private walls, they did face challenges while working on government-owned walls. "The procedures to obtain permission were lengthy and slow, and since we wanted to focus our energies on the art, we made the best use of what was available. I feel that the government should be more supportive of the street art movement in India, which not only provides a creative outlet for individuals to express themselves but can also be used to beautify the city," says Paul. He adds that there were some minor hitches like police interference also.
A full-length documentary and a book are part of the project too, which will be released in March. "The book, a composite of records of narratives, logs of the project, contract drawings, sketches, photos, and poetry highlights our perceptions, what we learnt, and the outcomes of this experience; and the documentary will have a detailed record of the creative process and the paintings on the walls, mixed with the experiences and narratives of the team and the interviewees," says Cordeiro.