Tuesday June 25, 2019
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Creative Cabs: Showcasing Mumbai’s art and colours on Wheels

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By Manas Dwivedi

55db8b741d00002f00145bb0The city of dreams Mumbai fulfils millions of dreams daily; it gives hope to the one who is struggling to make his dream a reality. One such dream is now real – an aspiration of beautifying the transportation system of the city. Such idea is brought alive by Taxi Fabric, a foundation working exclusively towards uplifting artwork and promoting designing as a profession in India. They aim to provide exposure to local artists and improve passenger’s travel experience too.

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The busy roads of Mumbai are no longer seen as dull and drab. The usual black and yellow taxis have now turned into a colourful epitome of some brilliant masterpiece. The unique casing of taxis in Mumbai is now seen with some very beautiful interiors where every design is based on a broad theme showcasing “stories of Mumbai”.

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The idea is brained by a team of four entrepreneurial colleagues – Sanket Avlani, Girish Narayandass, Mahak Malik and Nathlie Gordon. Aiming to create a cultural drive, the team is constantly working with a group of local designers, photographers, craftsmen and volunteers. These people use their skill effectively and install creative designs on the seat covers and upholstery of the taxi. In a hunt to make a colourful network of cabs, Team Taxi Fabric keeps in mind the need for promoting various art forms. The project is funded through a global crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter.

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Taxi Fabric is looking to change the face and colour of as many cabs operating in the city of Bollywood. They have already transformed 8 of the 50,000 taxis running in Mumbai. The project has so far garnered some good words from the city’s residents. They say it helps them understand the art and also believe that art can really create a mesmerizing impact. Due to comparative decline in forms of design and drawing, this new ramification is like giving some good zest and zeal to the field of art.

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Although Mumbai cab drivers are known for customizing their taxis with different flashy articles but coming up with such a creative start up has given the city ‘new eyes’ to see the world around. It helps travellers in Mumbai to experience, feel and understand various emotions behind such popping caricatures.

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This astonishing ramification is a very careful and soothing step in changing the mood and vibes of the passengers. The art-piece over the fabric in the taxis also helps in making the city brighter and happier, where not just the artist, but the cabbie and the passenger love the new thread.

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Next Story

Art Undersea: Cuban Artist Sketches Under Sea Among Fish and Coral Reefs

For Cuba's Sandor Gonzalez, there is no better place to sketch than several meters below the surface of the sea

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Art, Undersea, Cuban
Cuban artist Sandor Gonzalez paints underwater in Punta Perdiz. He experimented until he found a way of sketching with charcoal or oil paints which unlike pastels or watercolor would not dissolve. VOA

Some artists like to go on a countryside retreat to foster their creative process.

For Cuba’s Sandor Gonzalez, there is no better place to sketch than several meters below the surface of the sea, surrounded by iridescent Caribbean fish and fantastical coral forms.

The 42-year-old first won renown at home and abroad for his predominantly black-and-white, haunting images of imaginary cityscapes, inspired by a trip to Europe and reflecting the aggressiveness of modern, urban life.

Then six years ago, he went scuba diving in Cuba and found his inspiration in the complete opposite: the tranquility found below water where all forms are natural and not manmade, all sounds are muffled and the light ripples softly.

Art, Undersea, Cuban
Cuban artist Sandor Gonzalez speaks to the media after painting underwater in Punta Perdiz, June 18, 2019. VOA

While Gonzalez had heard of a biologist painting underwater in Spain, he decided to experiment for himself until he found a way of sketching with charcoal or oil paints which unlike pastels or watercolor would not dissolve.

The Cuban learnt to then soak the canvasses for at least an hour and rinse them to get rid of the salt and any organic matter, before hanging them out to dry.

“This started off as a hobby, as a passion,” he told Reuters at Punta Perdiz, his favorite dive spot, sheltered in the Bay of Pigs, where in 1961 U.S.-backed Cuban exiles landed in a failed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro.

“But now I really need to come here, immerse myself and create below water because there is a peace there that you simply cannot find on dry land.”

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To do so, he gets fully kitted out in scuba diving gear including an oxygen tank and yellow flippers, and swims out 60 meters (197 feet) to his easel fixed in the seabed around 6 meters (20 feet) below the surface.

With him, he carries his canvas, and other equipment like a spatula for the oil paints weighed down with some lead to avoid it floating to the surface if he lets go.

The artist said he does not plan beforehand, instead allowing inspiration to strike as he enters a meditative state in the crystalline water. But inevitably his submarine work is more about nature than the cityscape series he continues to develop on land.

Being reliant on a tank limits the time underwater, but Gonzalez is quick and for this interview sketched in 30 minutes a flying whale, dragging a house behind it in a sky dotted with clouds. Palm trees grow off the creature’s back.

Art, Undersea, Cuban
Cuban artist Sandor Gonzalez paints underwater in Punta Perdiz, Cuba, June 18, 2019. VOA

“I really did not expect to see somebody under water, painting!” exclaimed Canadian tourist Mike Festeryga, who saw Gonzalez while diving along the seabed.

The state-run dive center at Punta Perdiz, on Cuba’s southern coast, some 172 km (107 miles) from Havana, said his work was an extra draw for tourists.

“For tourists, it’s really a novelty,” said Hector Hernandez, who has been working as a dive instructor in the area for more than 28 years.

Gonzalez, who makes a living selling work at his studio in Havana for a median price of $1,000 per canvas, exhibits some of his submarine work in the Punta Perdiz dive center.

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He is now hoping to get state permission to sell the work and develop the area as a center for underwater art.

“I would like for a department of submarine painting to be created,” he said. “I don’t think anything like that exists yet anywhere in the world.” (VOA)