Mural – The Concept
Murals are the paintings done on the ceilings or the walls of a building. In effect, these surfaces are used as canvas for the artworks in this style.
Murals date back to the Stone Age, in the form of cave paintings of around 30,000 BC. Since then this style has adorned the walls of many palaces, tombs, shrines, and sanctuaries all over the world.
Murals display ideas and the emotions of artists, communities, and social & political vision of leaders & groups. In 1930, the Mexican Mural Movement identified the style as an important tool to convey socio-political messages. A few of the main techniques of were:
o Fresco – the commonest mural technique, where the painting is done on the plastered walls using water based paints with lime wash
o Buon Fresco – involves using water-soluble pigments on a wet plaster
o Secco – paint is applied over dry plaster. Here, the pigment is attached to the wall using glue
o Mezzo Fresco – done on semi dry plastered walls
o Tempera – pigments diluted in water and bonded with egg yolk or white
The Artists and the Artworks
The oldest evidence of this art is the San Bartolo murals of the Maya Civilization in Guatemala. India, Mexico, Cuba, and the US (New York) are a few places still housing some of the world famous works. Kerala (India) has a collection of ornate murals (9th century) decorating the walls and the arches of old temples. Diego Rivera (1886-1957), José Orozco (1883-1949), and David Siqueiros (1896-1974) were few of the key Mexican mural artists. In 1976, when the Berlin wall was erected the artists painted on the western side of the wall until the wall fell. The recent works in murals include wallscape, illusionary wall paintings, ceramic tile paintings, and graffiti to name some.
The Contemporary Styles
Wallscapes are huge advertisements made using digital printers. They either are painted directly on the wall, or are attached to them. Illusionary wall paintings are used to transform a simple looking wall into natural scenery or a fantasyland as per the choice of the client. Modern day graffiti can be understood as murals with a basic difference that graffiti are unauthorized and illegal art display, while murals are authorized works, generally government, or community funded. Painted tiles are the latest in the style. They cover the entire surface and give an impression of painted wall. Digital photography and printing have created better and cheaper alternatives to the old method of hand painted murals. The new methods used are time saving as well as cost effective.