December 2013. Godrej India Culture Lab is to create a one-day pop up museum in an old Godrej factory - Something that would get demolished the next day.
Why should an artist go and put efforts to make something that will perish in a day?
A canvas has its set of challenges. You are trying to go deeper in the dimension you have chosen - but the challenge is never of the scale. On a wall, it's not the same.
The space : Portal to the pop-up museum
The space was huge. With 17-20 ft tall and 60 feet long walls it was another scale altogether.
It was old. It didn't have a roof but two water tanks, many pipes and a fixed ladder.
I hadn't painted on a vertically held surface before, with gravity pulling the paint down.
I didn't know what's the best paint for the walls and whether one coat would work or two.
Or which paint should I use to get the right colour intensity, how long would this entire thing take - and how would it develop.
It would at least be good 10-11 ft high, which meant I would have to work on a vertical surface, that too without a steady scaffolding, that doubled the challenge. I didn't know whether I would last that long.
But the answer to these questions was quite simple : Do!
Standing 10 feet away from the wall to contain the 60 feet long work in one's eyes - was an impossible task - and there were two such walls facing each other. With such less viewing distance .
When one stood at the entry, it felt like an alley with a dead end - one wouldn't know how to exit the space at the first glance. The walls were coming together to contain the space which viewer could walk into.
This was a space that could give the people an experience of walking into a piece art.
The unknown, unidentifiable, ever changing forms.
But aren't people scared of art? Who would want to dive into a pool of abstracts?
The words help them shed fear of the work judging them - and once they got over the initial fear, they could make a connection with the art.
The concept was 'giving a skin to the space'. One who would walk through, would get enveloped in it.
The fundamental difference between the visual and the tactile : We distinguish colours by seeing them,
but we can't tell the same by touching them.
Touch is free from the biases of seeing. It was the theme for the mural.
Once i had the concept, work on the layout started. The scale asked for it.
This is what I was going to make, life size.
Day one. Concept hits the wall (literally!). The mural starts coming to life.
One litre of black enamel paint, and one liter of white enamel paint. That's a start, before it starts to flow!
Day by day, layer by layer : the work starts coming together.
Litres and litres of paint, from five litres to ten litres. Brushes. Stools.
Everyday i see the Sun move. Breath-taking!
Paint on the floor makes so much difference! It's 8 days and 50 litres of paint down and the 2000 sq ft mural is ready.
Then i hear overflow water from the tank above! Imagine!
Should I cover it or not? The overhead water tanks make the decision simple, at least visually. Do!
Back at it for two more days to put up the roof. (I took Rucha's help for this, phew!).
Obviously it can't be normal. Hooks, ribbons, efforts and sweat.
It starts cutting the light - creates more patterns than I could imagine.
People keep walking through irrespective of all the 'Wet paint' signs, water tank overflows add to the concerns. One day before the floor is so dull that I am dreading whether I will have to paint the floor again.
And then I give it a good bath.
Dust washed away and the paint shines like new!
The night watchman. To guard it from anyone who can walk - or fly. Bats, pigeons, people.
The engraved acrylic panel goes up completing the space.
The space has a very different vibe. Every moment of making it has been as much an experience as being in it.
A heart-felt thanks!
To everyone who walked through the mural and felt it.
To Parmesh Shahani, Avanti, Dianne, Rushva from India Culture Lab team for providing the space and the opportunity.
To Shailesh Deshpande for the numerous lunches and the chats at the venue that kept me going (+ the ladder too)
To the media who covered India's largest 3D mural
To Chinmay, Rashida, Arush, Shikha and my friends of Godrej and outside, who kept visiting, discussing and ensuring that the energy levels were up.
To Shindeji and team, who got the place cleaned up for me, without any official talk
To the facilities team for taking off the honey comb and saving me probable bites
Apologies to the honey bees : Sorry, I was just not able to communicate and resolve it :(
To Rashid, who helped put up the roof, transited for being my man-friday
To Kanhaiyyaji and Dhaba team, for amazing omelet paos and lemon-grass chai, round the clock
To AJS printers for getting the acrylic plate engraved as per my specs in like two hours.
To all the paint companies - who make really good enamel paint.
To Daddy who helped me put up the plate
To Aai who wrote to a lot of people
To my family, who tolerated my tantrums and drained out evenings
To Rucha Inamdar for pushing me to do the roof, helping me out with it and for the amazing photographs : the mural wouldn't have happened without you.