A few years ago, my research on the Himalayas, street art and the Beatles found its cumulative god when I read about what someone had done to the abandoned Ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh. Since then I have been secretly hoping to meet that someone.
The picture above is that of Pan Trinity Das, a Canadian street artist who travels the globe and spreads the message of love and peace with this spiritual pop art pieces. I was introduced to him recently by my friends at Waste Warriors, who we both seem to have worked with. A few internet searches revealed to me that he is also the blessed soul who conjured up the idea and execution of ‘The Beatles Cathedral Gallery’ that I had read about. Sudden euphoria!
I have been working with street artists and graffiti in India for the past 4 years through Wicked Broz but reading about Pan just re-enforced the thoughts I have been having for quite some time now.
Visual art pieces are tangible. But their value is paradoxically intangible. Due to its nature of being not essential to our survival in the hunter gatherer sense of the world visual art is not looked upon as useful to our day to day life. It is generally passed over as being part of the scenery and those who paint are largely looked down upon as wasting their time. In doing so, we miss the forest for the trees. Visual art is integral to every culture. Culture fosters the preservation and growth of ideas among individuals and consequently civilization. Without tangible evidence of culture, the ideas that it aims to preserve will be lost.
Not only that, but visual arts play a role in changing our society. Visual arts that reach the masses in the streets have the potential to spread a message. Visual arts impact our conscious much more than an essay or any song. These are not mere thoughts. These are facts.
Imagine, without street artists amongst us no one would be left to illustrate on walls and point out the injustices in society. How will cities learn to speak out and look beautiful instead of standing around dirty, dark and broken like they usually do? How will we break down the walls in our heads? How will we learn to appreciate different perspectives to the world than ours? What would have happened if there had been no Dali, Hussain or Banksy amongst us? Who will save us from ourselves?
Our society needs to preserve its culture and change itself one person at a time and it all starts with a few artists ready to disrupt how our streets look like. We need to inject art into everything. We need to make things not just look cool, we need to make them wicked. And street artists are the heroes that our cities really need!
PS: Pan is back in India. It’s the 50th anniversary of the Beatles visit to the ashram in Rishikesh and Pan is busy paying homage to them at the Beatles Ashram. Follow his exploits on the Instagram handle: @thebeatlesashram or join us on our own pilgrimage to the famous ashram and meet Pan on the 24th of Feb.