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January 16, 2019

This Mural In Mahim Presents A New Spin On India’s Favourite Season

Text by Sadaf Shaikh

The final artist on St+art Festival Mumbai’s roster, Millo explains why he chose to draw a little boy holding an umbrella amidst a rain of flowers

A single glance at a mural by Francesco Camillo Giorgino is enough to glean that he has a keen sense of design and space but then Millo — as he is popularly known — reveals that he studied architecture. Suddenly, all the pieces fall into place — how the Italian artist managed to add depth and significance to even the tiniest window frame and how you can almost discern the length of each building even though it lies on a flat plane. Millo’s MO consists of simple monochromatic structures interspersed with bits of colour and whimsical characters and although he may have quit architecture, he’s able to squeeze epic landscapes onto the exteriors of residential and commercial sites. His unassuming figures play with makeshift telephones, building blocks, paper cranes and trains and are a stark juxtaposition to the bustling city lives around them. The final artist commissioned by Asian Paints to introduce his murals to the neighbourhoods of Mahim East by St+art Foundation this year, Millo also presented his views on modern cities at an exclusive masterclass at Istituto Marangoni campus last evening.

Excerpts from an interview…

What piqued your interest in street art?
I think symbolism plays an important role in the artworks that catch my eye. Visually appealing art is great but I’m interested in decoding the hidden meaning behind it and all the steps that lead up to the final piece. A real work of art should be able to stop me in my tracks and spark a brief conversation with me.

What do you wish to convey through your art?
I want my art to raise questions. It should extract people out of their chaotic lives and transport them to a world where time has frozen; a place where a minute feels like an eternity. They should ask themselves why they do what they do, whether it makes them happy and more importantly, whether it’s good to be living the kind of lives they are currently leading.

What is the idea behind your work for St+Art Mumbai festival?
When I first arrived in Mumbai, I walked around Dharavi wondering about the things I should paint and the words I should say. I realised that although India might be a poor country, it is rich in culture and diversity. So I didn’t want to talk about the financial problems or environmental concerns, rather I wanted to present the residents of that locality with my own brand of beauty. My mural features a young boy holding an umbrella to shield himself from the pouring rain, but that rain is actually just a shower of flowers.  Monsoon holds a very special place in the hearts of Indians because the rains are indispensable to farmers besides bringing out the best form of love. The umbrella is meant to symbolise a feeling of protection, at the same time indicating a certain detachment from the world around us. It’s all about being happy in your own little space with your thoughts.

How different was your experience painting in India as compared to around the world?
I didn’t get to travel around India the way I wanted to; most of my explorations were restricted to the area around Mahim where I was painting. Mumbai itself is such a big city that I felt like my experiences would differ from one area to the other. I loved watching the people hustle and go about their daily lives and I was fascinated by how people from various religious backgrounds co-existed in harmony. It created a happy environment for me to paint in.

Can you tell us a little about the characters that inspire your murals?
You could say that my characters play the role of an actor or a puppet. When I first started painting 10 years ago, I would always gravitate towards drawing figures in the middle of a landscape. The whole idea of the artwork was to show them interacting with their environment in an eccentric way. It was more about establishing my MO. Now, I use them as actors that convey my own ideas or state of mind.

Whose works are you inspired by?
I like many artists but my inspirations are not only restricted to those who belong to the art industry. I am also inspired by everything that happens to me in day-to-day life and I pay close attention to the mannerisms of my circle of friends and the people I live with. I also travel a lot so that inadvertently ends up influencing my work.

Can you pick one of your favourite artworks that you have created?
It would have to be the mural I created in Chile, Santiago titled Never Give Up where a young girl is embracing the heart-shaped trunk of a tree that has been mercilessly cut down. She clings to it as if willing it to live, and surely, hope appears in the form of a green shoot that takes birth from the stump.

Watch out for our previous piece in the series featuring India-based artist Jas Charanjiva

For more artworks from St+art Festival:
Streets Alive
Only time can tell how long you can see this art
Mumbai’s Sassoon Dock Has Been Transformed Into A Gorgeous Art Canvas
Faizan Khatri Is Making Heads Turn With His Installation At Sassoon Dock
This Artist Duo Has Started A Riot Of Colours With An Imaginary Sea Creature
This Artist Is Turning Ocean Waste Into A Work Of Art

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