Laxman Shrestha : Writing on the wall

An article by Rupanjali Baruah

Most people associate street art with spray paint, tags, murals but increasingly the genre encompasses everything that affects the sensibilities of an artist. Today street artists know how to push boundaries beyond what is considered to be the gamut of street art. It is ever expanding to embrace the whole world of modern living

Every street artist has a story to tell – there is narrative thread that spreading maybe a social message, political protest or aesthetic animal images. Very often themes revolve around urban environment where street art come alive on a grand scale of observing every day happenings, significant events or situations seen in the larger context of life and its deeper ethos. These artists use walls as larger than life canvas to convey messages for social change in a bid to uplift the mindset of people from stereotyped social practices, conservatism and turn their thoughts towards freedom. They direct attention of viewers towards private universe where the use of color, line movement, and figures delineate a movement. Style and concept evolve and thus messages become ever bold, challenging. So it is evident that there is a bigger idea behind each piece of street art. We notice transition of ideas ranging from political turmoil, social stigmas to issues of drug abuse. Some images of wall art are precocious, or wildly creative and ever-changing with the need of the hour. There are multi-layered backgrounds that look complex and yet they handle varied subjects with easy aplomb expecting to impact thoughts and ideas of people.

Profile of Artist from Nepal:

Laxman Shrestha is one such street artist who hails from the conflict driven region of Kathmandu, Nepal who at the young age of 35 dares to take up this creative method. And once he set off on this untrammeled journey, it has become an indispensible part of his living, a day and night activity through which the sharp sensitive artist in him has found hope in a land where optimism is rarely found in the psyche of the common man.

Laxman remains true to his primal roots and wields his array of colors with expressive power of an instinctive artist and continued to spread his social propaganda so that his is a voice to reckon with peace and love of human change. In fact Laxman challenges what has hitherto been considered to be the ambit of street art. He shows clearly through his experiments what street art should truly be.

Laxman’s street art is relevant in the context of what the public views and feels, as people pass by, his street art delivers a message to them. Current events in his land, earthquakes, political unrest, social stigmas, drug abuse are seen as his own version of these occurrences. His art therefore covers the façade of buildings, walls, lanes, wherein his satirical or critical messages appear through different perspectives. They become a guide as a record of his time to be picked up by the passerby. Anyone stumbling upon them will certainly ponder over his work.

Laxman Shrestha is like a renegade ushering a positive change in the much disturbing world. He gives strange new life to mundane walls, the features give character to his edifices, sometimes a melodramatic scream, or a placid gaze or a loud boisterous leopard in motion that seem to spring upon the onlooker when he happens upon it. The artist seems to discover liberation in conceiving and setting his scenes on the massive walls of streets as if he moves to play with his environment and use them as a canvas for his social campaign. And this clearly defines his oeuvre since these are his inventive world to meditate on what’s going wrong around him and he seeks a tacit solution to them.