The canvas is everywhere

Updated: 04 September, 2020 16:00 IST | Jovita Aranha | Mumbai

As the lockdown turns terraces and walls into bustling public art displays, a few artists and experts discuss their motivation

Irrfan Khan's mural by Dahiya & Bansal at Bandra. PIC/Pradeep Dhivar
Irrfan Khan's mural by Dahiya & Bansal at Bandra. PIC/Pradeep Dhivar

For Dadar-based consultant architect and artist Vaibhav Soparkar, his terrace is a canvas that exudes the warmth of the sun and beauty of nature. He recalls waking up one morning in the lockdown and gazing at the blank wall of his terrace. As it shone in full glory in the golden rays of the sun, Soparkar just knew it would lend itself beautifully as a canvas. And so, armed with brushes and colours he began sketching everything that came to mind. He drew inspiration from the potted Monstera plants on the terrace, and the little birds that graced the space as well as the ones his eight-year-old son Vivaan loved, and he finished the wall art, overnight.

Artist Vaibhav Soparkar and his son, Vivaan with his wall art
Artist Vaibhav Soparkar and his son, Vivaan with his wall art

Soparkar works on black and white doodles, but the lockdown inspired him to experiment with colour on the terrace. Many of his artworks are inspired by his son's love for nature, birds and insects. "One of the walls that I did was literally around some scribbles and art that Vivaan drew. Instead of getting rid of it, I decided to go with the flow and create something from it. A barrage of colours, geometric shapes, faces, insects, reptiles, birds, stars followed and there was no looking back," he tells us.

Varad Keni's terrace art in Wadala
Varad Keni's terrace art in Wadala

He isn't the only one. More people are turning to spaces like their balconies and terraces to channelise their inner Picasso. For instance, Wadala-based third-year engineering student from Vidyalankar Institute of Technology, Varad Keni, turned a neglected defaced wall into a street art masterpiece, to pass his time. Bursting with colour, a city skyline and a young woman in shades, the abstract art gained a lovely response from residents as well as people from neighbouring buildings and terraces who yelled out praises for Keni when the artwork was in progress. "I was always interested in art. But painting this wall was out of a pure hobby. And fortunately, the residents were supportive. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Though my lectures have begun, I am hoping I'll get time to paint another wall behind the terrace."

Varad Keni
Varad Keni

Renowned muralist and founder of the Bollywood Art Project, Ranjit Dahiya shares how street art is gaining more popularity across ages. He shares some tips: "It is heartening to see people turn to street art. I tell budding artists that while your work may start by replicating what you find in your surroundings or drawing inspiration from other artists, keep practising to develop your unique style. Make art that resonates with you. But don't lose sight of your own. Every artist has their own style. And you've got to find your own."

Ranjit Dahiya
Ranjit Dahiya

He illustrates this through his own larger-than-life murals of Bollywood icons painted across the city. His famous works include India's tallest 230-ft mural of Amitabh Bachchan from the cult film, Deewar near Mount Mary Steps in Bandra to Dadasaheb Phalke's mural on the MTNL building, also in Bandra. At the passing of actor Irrfan Khan, Dahiya and artist Vikas Bansal paid him a rich tribute with a mural in the bylanes of Waroda Road. The man from Sonipat, Haryana who started his career as a whitewasher at 16, is a household name in Mumbai for street art now. And that's the inspiration budding artists need in these bleak times.

Log on to @vaibhavsoparkar, @bollywoodartproject on Instagram

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First Published: 04 September, 2020 07:25 IST

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