Published: 20th September 2021
How this young artist painted the journey of a city on one subway wall in Kolkata
The 240 feet long subway adorns Sayan’s rendition of both Kolkatas – the colonial and iconic structures that one associates with the city and the new Kolkata that is still growing
The history of a city is always a colourful journey and if it is a city like Kolkata, you get a mix of both old-school elegance and new-age vibrance. That’s exactly what Sayan Mukherjee's latest mural on a subway in New Town, a planned extension to the City of Joy, is — a colourful journey. The 240-foot-long subway adorns Sayan’s rendition of both Kolkatas — the colonial and iconic structures that one associates with the city and the new Kolkata that is still growing. But with a twist. “I have included the newer areas of the city — the structures that are now becoming landmarks, like the Biswa Bangla Gate or the new Coffee House in New Town. And with that, there are emotions that Bengalis associate with — the East-West debate about food, football and much more,” says the artist.
Sayan wanted to do something for the beautification of the new part of the city that is still coming up. Instead of beating around the bush, he dropped an email to the Chairman and Managing Director of HIDCO, the development authority of New Town in Kolkata, Debashis Sen, with his ideas. “He replied and showed me this stretch. This was an upcoming subway and they wanted me to work on its walls. Honestly, I had to put a few other projects on the back burner to invest my time on this,” adds Sayan. But this is not his first project. “My team and I had also worked on a wall in Eden Gardens just before the Pink Ball Test matches. It shows the journey of a cricketer from gully cricket to the Indian team,” says Sayan.
While many admire an artist’s work, the process is mostly solitary. But it becomes 'performance art' when you paint the walls of a subway while people walk past you. “Many people stopped to take pictures or ask me what’s going on. This was a different experience altogether. But nowadays, people are more interested in taking a picture than anything else,” he adds with a laugh. It took them 9 days to complete the piece of art with around 9-10 people working on it.
Sayan is a city boy but he trained at the School of Visual Arts in New York after he finished his initial training from The Indian College of Arts and Draftsmanship in Kolkata. Sayan is a professional illustrator and one of his doodles was even featured on Google Doodle. “After I graduated from the Art college, I worked for nine years in an advertising firm as their Art Director. I went to New York after I was selected for a residency programme at the School of Visual Arts. I finally returned here to work as an illustrator,” he says.
Reach Out: sayanart.net
Been there, done that
The earliest Indian murals were the rock paintings of prehistoric times — petroglyphs found in places like Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh. Some of these paintings are approximately 10,000 years old
The largest outdoor mural measures 23,688.7 m² (254,983 ft²) and was done by Industry Promotion Division, Incheon Metropolitan City, Incheon Port Authority, Korea TBT Co Ltd and Incheon Business Information Technopark, South Korea on September 20, 2018