Artist, sculptor and architect Bharat Rawal takes the knowledge of mural art to common people through his simple teaching techniques

On an otherwise busy Monday morning, the air in this hall is laid-back. A group of men and women work on wooden panels -- drawing motifs, sticking clay and carving out designs. At the mural art workshop underway in the city, students, housewives and even a few doctors and engineers try their hand at sketching and painting, while Bharat Rawal, the 3D mural artist from Pune, coaches them. “Creativity is the only thing needed to attend my workshops. One need not be an art student but an interest in art forms will do,” says Bharat. “My workshops intend to spread mural art to people through simple techniques.”

Having conducted over 70 workshops across the country reaching out to nearly 7000 people, Bharat Rawal is known for his formula of mastering murals in 10 days flat. After six workshops in Chennai, Bharat is in the Temple Town for the first time. “The idea is to give a complete exposure to different types of mural art,” he says. He promises that by the end of the workshop participants will be fully capable of creating murals on their own. It was in 1985 that Bharat discovered resin clay, a combination of two chemical-based clays that is widely used in relief designs on 3D art panels. “Resin clay is tough and durable,” he says. “It easily sticks on to canvas or wood board and becomes rock hard after drying.”

Breaking boundaries

As a student of J.J. School of Fine Arts in Mumbai, Bharat was always up for experiments to break boundaries and strict forms in art. “Earlier, the darker and lighter shades of colours were the techniques used to depict dimension in paintings. But, I always thought of extra depth that could also be touched and felt,” says Bharat. “When I started to add protrusions and additions to my paintings, I also realized that these 3D panels need not be framed like flat paintings. Hence, I involved more curves, cut-outs, flowy shapes, irregular, abstract and free forms.”

Apart from the thin and thick layers that add relief to Bharat’s panels, he also involves out-of-the-frame elements called ‘high relief’ that stand out as separate units. “That kind of 3D art will have features that completely protrude out of the frame, like, for example, a door in the painting will open out like a real door.” Taking this a step further, Bharat also adds murals to furniture and calls it ‘furniture art’. “Usually, such 3D panels are hung on walls, but a lot can be done on sofa sets, wardrobes, tables and chairs.” He also advises his clients to get the furniture piece custom-made according to the mural one wants to add on. He swears that a dull piece of furniture can be turned into a scintillating art piece with murals.

Mixing media

Another of Bharat’s specialities is the 3D mixed media mural. A single new wood board is divided in five segments and the required design is drawn in pencil, over which he applies various media such as Sephorix, resin clay, glass, copper and textural materials like sand, saw dust, cloth or rock. “Sephorix is a light-weight building material which is easy to carve and chisel, while resin clay can be shaped and carved with just a kitchen knife,” says Bharat. “Embossing on copper is also done, apart from 3D glass and texture paintings on to the same panel.” Once the designs are ready, it is painted with oil or acrylic paints and is glazed with protective chemicals so that the mural is washable and weatherproof.

Bharat has been an artist for 35 years. He creates customized murals for clients across the globe and is also the Founder and Principal of the School of Fine Arts and Interior Design in Pune. “But, I wanted to reach out to art lovers all over India and that’s how I came up with the idea of conducting free workshops regularly.” For the last five years, Bharat and his team of assistants have been hopping cities to teach mural art. “Only the material cost is borne by participants. And we bring along all the materials with us,” he says.

From 50-year-old art teacher Shantha and painter Sukumar of Koodal Nagar to young collegians like Shilpa and Puja, around 40 art enthusiasts from the city have signed up for Bharat’s workshop. “If more people are interested, I may also conduct another workshop in Madurai in the coming months,” promises Bharat. If you have missed out this time, be sure to be there the next time. The workshop is on till July 30 at La Veloute’s Salon in Shenoy Nagar.