I first photographed the work of French street artist C215 in Paris in 2007. This week here in Delhi I hit the streets of Karol Bagh to see if I could find any remaining examples of the works he produced in the vicinity late in 2008. It proved to be an ambitious task which led to many alley-way adventures.
Christian Guémy (aka C215: self portrait above in Delhi) resides in Paris where he has developed his distinctive street-art style. Armed with a Masters in Art History from Sorbonne and an arsenal of aerosols plus painting paraphernalia, he hits the streets with persistent zeal. He has taken his skills further afield to Casablanca, Dakar, Jerusalem, Sao Paulo and beyond, alongside gallery showings in Paris and London. He has collaborated with the Norwegian Children at Risk Foundation (CARF) to raise money for their projects in Brazil – where he also visited to give workshops to local youth and make his mark in surrounding favelas.
Back here in Delhi I located a handful of C215’s works which have survived. One old woman in a poor neighbourhood recalls “They brought so much energy to our area with children all crowding round to watch this strange foreign-type painting just for the love of it.”
Guémy gifted some works on paper to various locals plus stencilled t-shirts for young onlookers and boxes for shoe-shine boys. He fondly remembers one shy girl whom he gave a framed work – indeed she was too shy to be photographed by me with the piece but was happy to take it down from it’s proud perch in her tiny home and let me capture it being held by a neighbour. [below left]
Along the way I encountered frequent examples of Indian vernacular flair – from rickshaw decorations to juice stall signs – showing that creativity is alive and well in this crowded corner of Delhi… both local and imported.