Murals

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Male Gaze

4 ft x 8 ft Charcoal on Wall.

My first Mural, 2015.

 

This will always be special. This was the first piece I made in my studio, which we were each given in our Senior Year in Parsons (New York). I remember hiding behind the wall in order to create this piece. No one knew what I was doing. When they entered my room to see it, it took them a few moments to grasp it... it was unconventional for them.

 

For me, it was the start of my creation - of my individualistic artistic style, my freedom and my comfort with walls started here. It was truly a calling. I never saw mural art before, as I saw the blank wall, it just pulled me toward it and ached me to apply charcoal on it until this was created. I found each wall has its own dimensions, its own beautiful organic texture, having histories and secrets, and having memory.

I look back at this work with happiness and pride...

PS 2022 note: Dear Whenky, I am so proud of you! You've come a long way from standing and painting behind the wall to owning yourself and your wall today! 

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Mysticism

2016
My thesis consisting of three walls and the floor of my Studio Space.  Acrylic on Wall. 

During my last semester, I decided I wanted to do 18 credits – something most don't since they want to focus on their thesis. I did this mural over the course of six months with other classes I took then - a fiction story writing class and a performance class where I often wrote poems and performed them, both which most definitely added to this piece.

 

I traveled through the subway many a time to be found in my studio past midnight, singing soothing Bollywood songs & eating a cream cheese with a bagel while all the other studios remained empty.

 

This piece was inspired by the Kamasutra and the Khajuraho temples wherein sex and sexuality where treated equal - as they should be. Through this piece, I questioned why we shied away from talking about why such topics where not "topics", they were normal - in fact other countries still look up to India for its rich knowledge on sex and sensuality.

The mural consists of an amalgamation of sex and sexual organs transfused into one another - really making it difficult to question or point a finger to any of it... or the intensity and connotation we give them today. This piece started off on a small area on a wall but it sprang out of me like a flock of birds would from a magician's hat.

 

It went from one wall to adorning three walls and eventually the floor too. Since the studios didn’t have doors, it gave the impression as though the floor was melting as you walked past it. With its intricate detailing and vivid use of color, many walked in to see my work and were always overwhelmed by its presence - exactly as I wanted them to be.

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The Entrance/Exit of the Studio 

The Corner - a view of two intersecting walls merging into the floor. 

During the course of creating this unique piece, I was a bit worried about preserving this humongous art that I couldn’t roll back into my suitcase. This is when I was first introduced to living fearlessly and just experiment boldly without holding onto anything at all – not even my art.

 

In Buddhism, they have a key principle known as impermanence “that life is always changing and a reminder of the powerlessness of man” This kept me a calm person while the brush flowed briskly through the walls. 
 

Within my last week of me leaving university, I had to go back to the Studio for the one last time to wash down the walls and return it to its original slate – white. Painting the walls white in the midst of planning so many things, I didn’t have enough time to fret or reminisce the tireless hours that I took to create it. I washed them down quick, Mum was accompanying me and we had a sumptuous chatty lunch after…

 

Six years have passed since I created this but people are most excited when I speak and showcase this work. Many a time, I think about recreating this piece, maybe 2022 is the year!

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Untitled

2016
Charcoal on Wall. 12 ft x 19 ft

I had just gotten back from New York, fresh out of back-to-back assignments and running non-stop errands. After a few days of refreshment, I tend to become restless until I create something I can touch and feel. The room I was staying was spacious… my mind started ticking.

I got the celling fan, the switchboard and lights from the wall and the kind size bed removed from the room.

 

I had my blank new cream canvas ready… 

Yet again, with no specific plan in mind, I just picked up a thick charcoal stick and drew one face on one side of the wall. Over the course of four months, the face bloomed into an entire wall submerged into a jungle of human emotions.

 

From emotionally vulnerable to despair, from sharing happier memories to moments of loss… it created an overwhelming vision for a person who was viewing it in person. I had these glossy prints of all my inspiration taped all over the wall for each corner.

 

Many would be astonished to see what I’d come up with, having seen the resource images, they would look nothing at all like them, but to me – they serve as an entry point into the mind of my characters… how they dress & feel, what goes on in each of their minds…

 

Back in college, a painting professor once looked at me painting and said, “…You remind me of grandmothers painting leisurely at Sunday lunch”. While I might have that vibe, I would like to share my observations with my art over time.

 

Having a huge wall as my canvas, there are moments when I’m standing for hours, to squatting and sleeping on the floor, moments standing tall on a platform ladder, to sitting on a stool in a particular angle to finish the minutest detail. Creating art is a very physically daunting task – especially one as big as this.

 

This by no means that I didn’t enjoy it… I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. It is just some #BehindtheScenes trivia I thought would be interesting to share.

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Whenever I walk into this room, I fondly remember those memories from singing my songs while painting, to shuttling between baby-sitting my newborn nephew and setting separate working hours, to watching this mural grow into an archival piece I’m so fortunate to have in my home…

 

When I'm hard pressed to pick a favorite amongst all my work, I often think of this piece for its mature understanding and depiction of human emotion which stays with you for a few moments even after walking out of the room...

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Sarita, the next one is on me!

2019
Acrylic on wall, 9 ft x 18 ft

My sister had just moved into her new place and she really wanted me to create a mural for her home. We found the right wall (the entrance into their place) and she began to describe what she wanted, “I think we want…” I stopped her. I pleaded. Please do not tell me, I understand what you’re looking for. I know so because I know her, I know them as a couple and I know what went into making their home… a theme home designed by @telldesigntales with a stylized usage of color and a contemporary finish (+ a room for me in it!) 

I was working a 10 – 6 job at the given time and I only had the nights to finish the work. This gave me the will to do it even more to create in my Zen-zone after what seemed like eons. It was a flush, an immediate flow of energy. I happened to finish it in seven weeknights.

As I flip through pictures I realize I attended a destination wedding in Goa sandwiched in between these seven days so they were possible inspirations from the trip. When I think sometimes as to why I chose a special color, a medium, or the time taken to create and complete a piece, I am left to surprise. Each work comes with its own destiny, its own karma and its own beauty.

Especially given the colors – pastel pinks and blues – colors my sister never requested in particular or those I have never used together in this composition before. The colors and the choreography of the arrangement are pleasant on the eyes and is in fact a sweet walkway into a home… it is a piece you can see through windows from other blocks of the apartment building and people recognize it as my sister’s place or “Whenky’s wall” (if they happen to know me!).

As an artist I do wonder when I mention I created something in seven nights – can art be contained in time and labeled in boxes like other products? I think not. Anything handmade, made with love, and for the love of art should take its rightful time to bloom into its optimal beauty… without the pressures of commerciality and our fast paced lives running towards dreams and monies. Beautiful things take time and deserve it.

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Usha's Serum

2020
Acrylic on wall, 14 ft x 9 ft

It was 2020. The world was going through many changes at this point, life was at still. We all had moved to our farm with just bare necessities. Apart from four basic tees I used a gazillion times, was a tube of purple paint which went along with me to live the quarantine life.

 

Being amongst family after fifteen days, my heart ached for more. I wanted to create – I wanted to make something that embarked my presence. While I walked through beautiful lush gardens finishing my 10,000 step count while my innumerous word count on the mobile, my eye caught its prey...

 

It was a beautiful white wall. There’s definitely a calling… a synergy between me and walls, or breaking walls and molding them into my own versions. 

Painting for me is a highly spiritual process where I submit to a higher power. No planning, sketching, designing the architecture of the wall… no distractions, all one stroke. This painting was lightening. There were a lot of thoughts brewing in my mind about women, the DNA of our cultures, stories we are fed, and feed children, the construct of hierarchies and power and women operating as warriors.

 

This painting was completed by seven days straight, right before my twenty-sixth birthday. As soon as I was done, Dad came and said, “What a beautiful painting, Son!” Yes, art and validation have a confusion relationship but as human creatures, a little validation at times doesn’t hurt! Haha.

This is again, a painting I keep revisiting both mentally and physically because of how it striking picture it cuts. I love visiting the farm and walking through to see the painting…

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Rekha decides to Hit Refresh

2020
Acrylic on wall, 14 ft x 9 ft

An unsent letter addressed to Ramesh that was found in Drafts (398).

 

Dear Ramesh,

I am sorry that you are having such an excruciating time figuring out life.

I am sorry you have to go through the guilt of wronging me, and those around us.

I am sorry that we let you down, closed doors, hurled accusations your way – and worst of all, that you felt everyone had my back and not yours.

I am sorry you feel this urgency to fix your life, flip it beautifully, like a well-done omelet, but now I realize – you are still inside the egg. You don’t know any better…

I am sorry we never called a foe a foe…that we enabled you to live in your own delusional world where things seemed happier, more peaceful, more rainbow-sy than the spills of murky mud slinging.

I am sorry you worry for the “you” in our marriage, and the fading surname of our child…

I am sorry for your anger that encapsulates you.

It’s a fire that creates smog, so much smog that coughs up my entire body, the house, even the neighborhood alley. But you’re the last to smell the whiff of it, if you ever do. And I’m sorry that you don’t know how to see it, digest it or clean it up.

I’m sorry you feel unsuccessful, not thriving in your element, even at home.

I’m sorry that I am lackluster when you come to make amends. I am tired, my clock is off, it's way passed my bedtime to make mere pseudo apologies and I am no longer accepting, well – anything.

I don’t enjoy your company anymore, I don’t feel comfortable to be around you, to unbutton my top, or to sleep in the same bed when you’re home for the night.

I am sorry I haven’t forgiven you. I am sorry for holding it in for so long and for what might seem, a sudden volcanic explosion.

I am sorry I am not the wife you wanted. I…I have curves aching to be caressed and thick curls longing to be untwined. I couldn’t straighten it out, or perhaps tune into a station I could’ve ever subscribed to.

I am sorry you feel I dishonor you by my presence, reflecting your

flaws and your claws. 

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Bloom with Me

2021
Acrylic on wall, 16 ft x 8 ft
Whencut Goddamn Studio

Bloom with Me

Its funny how much things change for you

When you finally embrace who you are

What you stand for

What you love

When you understand why you were meant to be here

To be at peace with yourself

To love yourself

To just be

Leaves begin to fade away and fresh ones seem to appear

The real leaves

Leaves you want to hold dearly

And will remain, because these are honest ones…

Because the tree has found its roots

The tree enjoys the leaves because it knows where it stems from

It can grow more leaves when it wants

And can release them with gusts of wind with love,

For there is so much more to life

More than winds, leaves and the tree itself.