Painting the Town

Several city-based artists have moved beyond the canvas and chosen walls,jets,guitars and even shoes to splash colour on

Written by Debjani Paul | Published: April 13, 2013 3:19 am

Several city-based artists have moved beyond the canvas and chosen walls,jets,guitars and even shoes to splash colour on

Joyston Vaz was barely five when he first heard of oil paints. So he took a tube of normal poster paint and added some cooking oil to it and voila,his career in art had begun. As much as it tempted him,drawing on the walls at home was never an option for Vaz,whose family was quite strict about keeping a clean home. Today though,Vaz paints walls and ceilings at homes,offices,colleges and a lot of other places across Pune,Chennai,Delhi and even abroad,in countries such as Malaysia.

Vaz is among a tribe of new-age artists who have moved beyond conventional media such as paper and canvas,and are choosing to work on a larger expanse. “It makes a lot of difference. It’s a much larger space and you have to keep moving around,which is good for me because I’m not one for sitting and working. The scale,textures and surfaces are all very different,so they add a bigger dimension to your work,” he says.

Vaz explains that even though the surface to be covered is larger,graffiti artists work on a tighter schedule. “People are constantly looking at it and judging your work. You have to finish it in a reasonable time otherwise the viewers’ curiosity will fade,” he says.

For Bruce Dunn,another artist,it all began with one day of sheer boredom. He began doodling on a pair of shoes and a friend spotted him and asked him to paint a fresh pair for him. “Now,I paint pretty much anything that I can get my hands on,” he says,rattling off a list of walls,flex boards,blackboards and even cars he has painted. His neon orange artwork on a Nano car that was stationed at NH7 Weekender grounds last year created quite a few waves,as did the shock of colours on his flex board painting outside High Spirits during the Art Attack event. “I love colours,especially neon ones. There’s just something very different about viewing bright colours in the day and then under UV light at night,” he says.

More recently,Dunn has started working on blackboards,commissioned by restaurants such as Terttulia and Pesto Pesto,where he uses chalk to create temporary artwork,offering information about the menu or simply adding colour to the venue. “It makes the place look more lively,and when the restaurants want to change the artwork in a month or so,I can do something new again,” he says. The artwork,created using chalk,has all the finer nuances that come with paints.

Another shoe and T-shirt artist,Veeraj Patil,also made similar beginnings when a friend saw him painting accessories such as caps and asked Patil to do some for him. “It always starts like that. People see you painting an item and then they want one,too,because it is customised,” he says. So Patil now gives live demonstrations at exhibitions,where people stop by and place on-the-spot orders. There is,of course,the challenge of finding consistent patrons,because as Patil and Dunn both put it,many people still prefer to spend on branded shoes rather than on a hand-painted pair. Yet,more people have started commissioning such work,and Dunn says he has even received invitations from restaurants in Goa and Mumbai.

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