Meena Kadri | Collections

Meena Kadri’s Collection of Indian Street Graphics

India: In Bodakdev

It started quite innocently — as most obsessions do. A snap of a painted truck here and spot of rural advertising there, on annual trips to the ancestral homeland. But soon the constant visual chatter of the Indian streetscape began to dominate my excursions. I scoured markets when they were closed in the hope of finding alluring roller doors on closed shop fronts. I would shriek at rickshaw drivers to stop over peeling billboards. Random strangers were enlisted to keep my parked scooter balanced while I stood on it to get a shot of an highly perched signboard.

I began to pursue moving targets and form sub-obsessions like painted rickshaw mudflaps. I co-opted bemused taxi drivers in my compulsive quests and sought their opinions on the embellished onslaughts we encountered. I came to see decorative devices as a sweetener — a kind of coping-mechanism to counter the sometimes severe reality of existence in India. These evolving graphic fashions and techniques provide vibrant food for the urban Indian eye which craves novelty as much as it respects tradition.

Not content with merely recording the diverse cacophony of competing styles I sought to meet with the artists themselves. They often work from the roadside and I joined some there to talk shop and devise exhibition pieces. One of my talented collaborators told me why he got into rickshaw decoration. "If you do a good job your work travels all over town. Best advertisement. No need to go out and find new customers. They come find me here," he said proudly from his popular studio of twenty five years, under a tree on a bustling street corner. "And I painted that sign there" he tells me, nodding to the nearby tea stall, "so free chai."

Posted in: Arts + Culture, Social Good

Comments [10]

delightful! especially love the musical steps...would be fun to see a bollywood dancer playing on those steps! also love the "I like it super strong!"

the beauty of the hand work is just so charming. hand painted signs bring a flavor that is unmatched...so free chai! exactly!!
florence haridan

Great obsession!
Such colors within an aged foreign mystique; at least to the western eye. I hope you eventually can publish all your findings; I'd buy the book.

Joshua Winship Carpenter

Street Graphics or Street Art or a bit of both?
Rahul Patel

Beautiful !!
Hope you publish them . Will make a great Coffae table book.
Chandra Bala

We've been pleased to use many of Meena Kadri's images for EMBARQ's publications (i.e. our Annual Report) and TheCityFix.com. Beautiful photos of sustainable transportation!
Erica Schlaikjer

Quite splendid. Deserve to be published.

Meena, I'm a big fan of your work, both photography and journalism! Keep it up. It's not just that your work exudes a keen eye about the subject matter but its also presented artistically. Particularly liked your comments on brand, brand propagation across cultures... I'm sure your diverse background and heritage have all contributed to the way you have immersed yourself in your work.

All the best,
From San Francisco, CA
Vasudev Bhandarkar

This is a nice series of wonderful street art.
If this isn't enough and you fancy getting your dose of Indian Inspired art and design check out the Indian archive on CreativeRoots. http://creativeroots.org/?cat=6

Wonderful Pictures, Meena!

Looking forward to see many more stories that document design, art & culture in India on Design Observer.

This set is great! I can only imagine you charming the socks off the autowallas and chaiwallas in order to get your great pictures. Just like that!

I'd love to see more India related content featured on DO.

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