Lodhi Art District: India’s first open-air art museum

New Delhi’s Lodhi Colony has over 50 murals, offering visitors a chance to enjoy art out in the open

Delhi has a love affair with street art. From the huge Gandhi mural on the side of the Delhi Police building at ITO, to fun art painted on the bare walls of Shankar Market to the latest installation at Khan Market, Delhi offers visitors a chance to enjoy art out in the open. But nowhere is it more prominent than at the Lodhi Art District – India’s first open air art museum.

What started out as a three-wall experiment in 2015 by St+art India, an NGO focussing on bringing art to the people, soon gave shape to the art district. Today there are 54 murals all over Lodhi Colony – a government housing neighbourhood built by the British in the 1940s.

Lodhi Colony is rather apt for an open air art museum. The area is pedestrian friendly, with lots of open spaces and wide roads. Its unique architecture – each triple storey building here features a central arched doorway and four windows (two on either side) wherein the archway affords a view inside a courtyard – thrilled the artists. It is also centrally located and is walking distance from landmarks like Lodhi Gardens and India Habitat Centre.

With the help of CPWD, NDMC, the residents of Lodhi Colony, and Asian Paints, St+Art India partnered with local and international artists to bring the art closer to the public.

The art is funky but it also calls out important social and environmental issues: from climate change to vulnerable communities like LGBTQ to Indian culture and values.

Here’s our pick of a few of the must-see murals.

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New delhi by nespoon: nespoon is a polish artist known to create large scale murals that are inspired by patterns of lace. This mural is in block 15 of lodhi colony.
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The tourist by avinash and kamesh: the inspiration for this wall comes from the social media and smartphone revolution. While working in lodhi colony, the artists observed how a lot of people came every day to click pictures of the murals and take selfies. Inspired by them, avinash and kamesh depicted the social media and smartphone revolution in their mural.
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Impressions of lodhi by yip yew chong: yip yew chong is a singaporean artist known for replicating everyday scenes into art. Through a soulful representation of the landscape and people of lodhi colony, the artist salutes the life of the common man.
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Nature’s arch and visions of altered landscapes by aaron li hill: in this mural, aaron li-hill, a canadian artist blends local narratives from india and canada to depict the challenges of climate change. While on the left side of the mural there is a polar bear representing the west, on the right side is a tiger representing the eastern part of the world. The mural is in block 5.
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This must be the place by georgia hill + hanif kureshi: in collaboration with artist hanif kureshi, australian artists georgia hill reimagined a phrase she is popularly known for using in her murals – “this must be the place”. After visiting old delhi to learn more about indian sign painting and hand lettering, the artists decided to embed the hindi word for ‘here’ – ‘yahan’, with the english word ‘must’ – layered into one another with georgia’s signature style. The mural is in block 8.
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We love delhi by lek + sowat and hanif kureshi: french artists lek & sowat painted characters resembling hindi letters to form a base, which was then half-erased with water to create an effect described as ‘colour rain’, drawing inspiration from the festival of holi. Hanif then painted we love delhi in hindi letters ( वी लव दिल्ली ) on top of the base layer to complete the artwork. The colourful mural is in block 5.
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Trans lives matter by aravani art project: this mural in block 5 is painted by aravani art project with the help of delhi’s transgender community. Featuring the portraits of trans women they have worked with, the artwork celebrates the transgender community.
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Original Aboriginal by Reko Rennie: Reko Rennie’s practice is based on a representation of his indigenous heritage and the Kamilaroi people. Using traditional geometric patterns that represent his community, Rennie provokes discussions surrounding indigenous culture and identity in contemporary urban environments.

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