Malleshwaram’s favorite pastime is coffee. There is always a certain pride in the roasting and making of coffee from the smallest joints to the larger restaurants. This one beverage connects people through conversation and contextualization through all ages. This mural of an ajji pouring coffee encapsulates this love for ﬁlter coffee.
Geechugalu: Tell us a bit about yourself, and your art practice with the coffee-connect in Malleshwaram.
Enoch: My name is Enoch, I’m a 21 year old artist from Bangalore, I am primarily a graffiti and tattoo artist, right now I’m pursuing my degree from Chitrakala Parishath. The reason I chose to paint an Ajji pouring coffee, was because I feel that coffee is something that the people local to Malleshwaram take pride in. Filter coffee, especially. So that was my reason behind it.
Geechugalu: Being an artist in the street art movement, are there any precursors to mural making that you would like to share with an aspiring artist community?
Enoch: For me personally, what you needed to paint murals was the size and the accessibility of walls. I have always been drawn to drawing big faces to paint, so maybe mural making seemed like a proper transition from painting big canvases to big walls. I’ve always also believed that art is supposed to be for everyone, so with murals it’s a lot more accessible to everyone. The only piece of advice that I can give an aspiring artist is to get permission if you’re painting a wall, or else it’ll be a lot of complications.
Geechugalu: Are there any experiences that you would like to share about your transition from a classroom practice for fine art to art that is out there in the public?
Enoch: So like I said I’m primarily a graffiti artist, I’m not sure if the works I do stay a classroom practice for me, so I basically would just go out, and paint. I would start small with my pieces, they would tag and slowly progress into bigger pieces. So I would just say practice helps.
Geechugalu: Are there any set of steps that you take for acquiring permissions for Graffiti Art, if at all?
Enoch: It honestly depends, sometimes you might scout for a wall for a while, or observe the people who come and go, based on that you find an opportune time to go and paint. Or sometimes you might go and ask for permissions, and sometimes the people who own the wall will let you paint.
Geechugalu: Had there been any challenges that came up in executing a mural piece in a public space in a state of pandemic?
Enoch: I think the organisation team did a brilliant job at handling everything. I perhaps faced a minor logistic one, with the procurement of materials, but I received all my materials in time, thanks to the team. But the shops were closed due to the pandemic, which became really hard. I ran out of a certain colour, so I had to go and get more, that time it was really hard because on that particular day, a lot of the paint shops were closed. So we had to really search for a paint shop that had that colour, which was hard to find at the time.
Another thing was, the people who would come and see the mural, not all of them were practicing social distancing or Covid protocols.
But the team was very good so they organised everything brilliantly.
Geechugalu: Describe a significant event that occurred as part of your public art experience.
Enoch: There were these two kids who lived in the lane where I was painting, they would come up to us and talk to everyone at the site where I was painting, which was very nice. So one day, they came running to my spot and said, ‘You also painted something? We also painted something’ to which I exclaimed, ‘show me!’ and they went home, came running back and showed me the pieces that they had painted, which I thought was very cute. I even have a picture of them, the two of them holding both of their pieces up.
It just really felt nice, because since they saw me making art outside, they also wanted to share their art with me, and I got to hang around with them.
Geechugalu: Were there any underlying issues, either societal or interpersonal, that surfaced as a result of your public art experience?
Enoch: My friend was helping me paint a mural this once, and we received a lot of dirty looks and stares, because of the way we look, the way we carry ourselves, and the way we dress. Some of them weren’t very welcoming, which I think was purely biased.
A few of them came up to us and said, ‘What are you doing here, do you have permission for it, where are you from? Why are you doing all this?’ it wasn’t like when someone is genuinely curious, it was more hostile I would say, which I think was only because they weren’t expecting two people who look like us and spoke like us, to be putting up work in a public space around.
Geechugalu: Are there any nuggets from the locals that you would like to share, which resulted in some kind of positive reinforcement?
Enoch: There was a lot of that too, a lot of people were like, ‘that’s a nice Ajji, that looks like my Ajji pouring filter coffee, that’s sweet’. When we were painting, this one gentleman came up to us, and he complimented the work and expressed that it was really good, and then took a deeper look at my piece and said that it looks a little like Jayalalithaa, which I thought was very peculiar.
Geechugalu: Was there a moment when you felt vulnerable in a public space or found difficulties during this project? Are there any other places where you’ve painted and felt similarly? Is there any specific way you dealt with it or wished you would have?
Enoch: There was this one time when this cop came up to me in Malleshwaram when I was alone at the site while I was mixing paint, he in a hostile manner asked, ‘What are you doing here?’ I was a little taken aback, because we had all the permissions, so I pointed at the mural and explained that I was painting it, but he continued to question me. So I informed him that we had permission from the owner, but he kept being hostile like that, so that made me feel very vulnerable.
Because if when I’m making graffiti art, and it’s on a wall that I haven’t acquired permission for, and say, I come in contact with a cop, then most usually if I’m painting without permission, I would run. But if I am supposed to talk to them, and if I’m held accountable, I would say I’m just painting. Then I would understand the same level of aggression that this cop showed me.
But even though we did have permissions and everything, there was still a cop who asked those things, so that did make me feel vulnerable.
Geechugalu: What were some of your highs/lows or places where you felt that everything came together?
Enoch: One low point I would say, when I had started the project, and I had to lay out my design, I used a technique called 2D grid, which involves painting random shapes within the grid, so when people saw that, they got upset and thought it was vandalism.
And then Yash came up to me and told me that it wasn’t acceptable because he said that there are certain works that you put out in a public space and certain works that stay in your sketchbook.
One point from there, where it felt like it was all coming together was when after we made up our two week rhythm, we had our line work down, and we started filling in the colour, that’s when everyone saw what we were trying to do, and that sort of made us feel like that everything was coming together.
But then again, working with such a brilliant team, and working alongside other amazing artists, that was a pretty big high.
Geechugalu: Do you carry any personal connection with Malleshwaram? If yes, then what have been some of your fondest memories in Malleshwaram?
Enoch: When I was younger, my mom would take me and my siblings for a walk through Malleshwaram every weekend, we would go and get ice cream or chaat, and that time Malleshwaram had pretty empty roads, so we’d all run around, and just have a really good time, so that’s a very fond memory that I hold.
Geechugalu: How was your experience with Bengaluru Moving x Geechugalu at Malleshwaram?
Enoch: I had a really fun time, it was an honour working with them.