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Breaking Laws to Paint Walls: 'Indian Bansky' Street Artist Tyler is Exhibiting His Work, With a Mask On

Image credits: Tyler Street Art/Instagram.

Image credits: Tyler Street Art/Instagram.

The anonymous street artist also had his first solo exhibition at Method in Kala Ghoda and Bandra from 14th January that continues till March.

Can you recognize art without putting a face to it? While anonymous artists have always been around through history, street artist 'Banksy' is the modern-day face-less artist one instantly thinks of for his distinctive style and art of protest.

In India too, an emerging artist over the last two years has made his place. Often referred to as 'Indian Banksy,' 'Desi Banksy' and 'Mumbai's Own Banksy.' The anonymous artist goes by the name 'Tyler'.

With his graffiti made of sprays and stencils, Tyler’s murals started appearing on social media in 2015, and being documented on his Instagram. While his art has always ranged from socio-political issues, Indian and world leaders, the true face of capitalism and fascism, he only rose to mainstream prominence in 2019, after his art turned to mirror real Indian political leaders.

The anonymous street artist also had his first solo exhibition at Method in Kala Ghoda and Bandra from 14th January, that will continue till March/

Tyler has never been to art school, but says, "Art is my tool to voice my opinion. Whether you are a singer or a stand-up comedian, people need to hear you."

In an email interview with News18, he shares what being an anonymous artist in India has been like. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Tyler was wearing a mask, covering his identity.

When he went public with the exhibition, his identity for the public was limited. He went to visit the organizers and the people who came to visit the gallery on the first day, and he had his mask on.

His faceless-ness, however, hasn't held him back from reaching the masses in India, he feels. "I have received more attention than I could have asked for. People are intrigued by the artist behind all the art they see on the streets. Their curiosity to know me makes them like me even more," he says.

However, in India where blatantly criticizing the government with art leads to legal repercussions, Tyler may have had luck. In August 2020, he painted what was India's first-ever 'Walk of Shame' and featured the names of journalists, leaders and prominent personalities. He managed to paint 5 markers before the Mumbai's BMC painted over the sidewalk.

"I was able to paint 5 names and get away only because I chose to stay anonymous. If I had executed the project under my real identity, I'd be mobbed by now," he tells News18, adding that so far he has no plans of revealing his identity.

When asked about the name 'Tyler,' he said there was 'no particular logic or reason behind it.' Some of his art has featured fictional character 'Tyler Durden' from Fight Club, hinting it as an alternate persona.

On his art being commercialized, he says, "When I painted the first wall without any prior permissions, I waited for the day when it makes it to the news. When my work started getting featured in the media, I decided that I want to sell my paintings."

A few years later after it, "I was part of a group show where 2 of the biggest art collectors from India bought 3 paintings of mine. In anticipation, I then waited for a day, when I could sell my art in another country. A few years later, I received an invitation from Amsterdam to be a part of a group show and also to paint a wall that helped promote an unofficial Banksy show. After returning from Amsterdam, I now wanted to have a solo show in Bombay. Until that point I was not a full-time artist. In 2018, I shut my business to pursue art full time. I kept striking things off, from by bucket list," he says.

Over the years, countless times, Tyler says, he has broken laws, just to put his thoughts on a wall. And now, he is inviting people to see them upfront.

The show features over 30 pieces created by Tyler on objects outdoors and inside, and will be displayed across two locations of exhibition gallery Method India.

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