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The Free Spirit

The Free Spirit
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Among the many experiences that GES brought to Hyderabad is the street art project that one saw happening at a brisk pace around the vicinity of the...

Among the many experiences that GES brought to Hyderabad is the street art project that one saw happening at a brisk pace around the vicinity of the venue. The flyovers became the canvas for the artists, who collaborated and painted independently bringing alive these concrete structures. French artist Delphine Delas from Bordeaux brightened up a few pillars as a part of the beautification. She is in Hyderabad for her Urban Art Project and is designing and making murals inspired by Ella Maillart’s photographs of India.

The Swiss traveller Ella spent five years of her life (1940-1945), in the south of India in the company of sages Ramana Maharshi and Atmananda Krishna Menon. Delphine’s project combines elements taken from the life of this great traveller, writer and photographer, her 1940-45 Indian photographic archive, the context of World War 2 and urban art. “I was 12-years-old when I saw Ella’s photographs during an exhibition at Bordeaux.

It made a strong impact on me. To me she is the symbol of freedom. An example of an independent woman, who rejected social and gender norms. I learnt more about her when, in later years, I visited Switzerland and met people who studied her and knew about her. She was in India during the second world war. I am using the photographs that she has taken during the time, in my works,” she shares.

Her street art uses Ella’s photographs of common man that capture the way of life, the culture and the people of India that strike a conversation with Delphine’s trademark motifs inspired by nature, unbounded and ever emerging, and embody the liberty that she speaks of.

She is known for always testing the boundaries between the real and imaginary, travelling and the traveler and combines cross-disciplinary notions in her artistic proposals. She draws her creative inspiration from ‘mythological characters, hybrid creatures inspired by ancient civilisations, pagan rituals, and dream-like worlds be they poetic, imaginary or parallel, where nature comes first, and human beings are all but a memory or have undergone a metamorphosis’.

However, her Urban Project that she also showcased at Alliance Francaise gallery brings out a slice of humanity through Ella’s eyes. She dabbles not just in street art, but also in mixed media and 3D animation. Her creativity is expressed through murals, illustrations, installations, comics, paintings, drawings, graffiti, and street art.

“Where I can’t paint, I use mixed media; and when that doesn’t work for my theme, I use animation,” she shares. She is also working on a huge project where she uses 3D animation – “It is a complex procedure. I used projection mapping of the video projected onto historic buildings in my hometown.” A visual of one such work is there on the landing page of her website.

It is about the river Garonne that flows into Atlantic ocean at Bordeaux. The name that Delphine uses is Garumna – the Latin for stony river. Bordeaux has its centuries of history, and its own share of myths and beliefs that is a part of the archaeology, architecture and art, which too has been emerging since ages. And the river is in the centre of it all. Delphine, while projecting the river and everything it stands for – the real and imaginary - into a single narrative, like in all her works, also expresses her desire to escape, to be free and without boundaries.

One can see the prints of her street art (Urban Project) and drawings displayed at Alliance Francaise gallery in Hyderabad till December 20 as a part of Bonjour India initiative. She is also a part of the ongoing art camp, which is a part of the Krishnakriti Art Festival.

By: Rajeshwari Kalyanam

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