Bengaluru's 'Pothole Artist' Nanjundaswamy Now Shifts His Focus To Coronavirus
Baadal Nanjundaswamy believes in bringing art to the people, with a message. This time, it is COVID-19
Baadal Nanjundaswamy rarely misses an opportunity to put out a message through his startling creativity. There is always an intent is to draw attention to a cause. Like everything else these days, his recent art too is centred around the coronavirus pandemic—be it wall art or 3D-paintings on roads, closed shop shutters and staircases.
When Nanjundaswamy saw that people were not obeying the lockdown rules, he made a 3D-painting on coronavirus on a street in the R.T. Nagar area of Bengaluru. “My art revolves around people. My message through the 3D-art is that people should take the virus seriously and not venture out,” says Nanjunadaswamy.
This, however, is not the first time that Nanjundaswamy has used his art to cast light on a civic issue.
Two years back, Nanjundaswamy, 40, who is known as the “pothole artist”, turned a 15-foot pothole in Bengaluru into a blue-green pond and floated a 12-foot fibre-glass crocodile in it. His art had created waves on social media and the road was repaired within no time by the local authorities.
Last year, he collaborated with actor Poornachandra Mysore to expose Bengaluru’s pothole-ridden roads. Nanjundaswamy made a video of the actor wearing a spacesuit and ‘moonwalking’ on a road with crater-sized potholes. The video went viral and this sharp, witty take on the condition of Bengaluru’s roads had the local authorities running for cover. The potholes were repaired within a day.
Over the years, Nanjundaswamy has used his art to raise awareness on a range of issues, from garbage disposal, polluted lakes to deforestation. “I highlight the issues. It is not always through humour, but people get it,” he says.
Nanjundaswamy's tribute to frontline workers against the coronavirus pandemic
Nanjundaswamy started working when he was very young to support himself and his family. He would paint hoardings and banners then. Later, he graduated from the Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts (CAVA), Mysuru and worked as a graphic designer for many years before he decided to become an independent artist with a focus on installation art.
But he has been forced to take a break from his favourite art form following the COVID-19 outbreak. “Installation art is instinctive and I can improvise a lot, and that gives me greater satisfaction. But it needs a lot of work and support staff. That is not possible now, so I am limiting myself to painting,” he says.
While he paints at the invitation of his fellow citizens, mostly on apartment building walls, staircases, and even shop shutters, the local authorities have also invited him to spread awareness about coronavirus through his art. A 10x12 feet artwork has been his largest painting so far. “I have my design ready and I reach a spot in the morning and I am done by the time curfew hours start in the evening,” he says.
Nanjundaswamy says that coronavirus will be the focus of his art and message for now. “This is the greatest threat to our existence and we have to fight and defeat it. I will continue to do my bit,” he says.