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The movement and stillness of water

Gurudas Shenoy's mural for a corporate office is inspired by one of his favourite natural locales, the Western Ghats. It has the drama of light and shade, the forms of the clouds, and conveys the way light filters beautifully through the trees, writes ADITI DE.


Inside Intel: The evocative sculpture in the foyer of the office.

IT'S NOT very easy to evoke the wilderness, the lush majesty of the landscape, the soothing water sounds of the Western Ghats, without a hint of green. But painter and mural artist Gurudas Shenoy comes close through his mural for the Intel office entrance foyer on Airport Road, executed over the month of May.

Gurudas, who has over 60 murals to his credit since 1994, uses brushed stainless steel, brushed copper, both compressed and etched glass, bird-like floating fibreglass forms, and granite in two hues to create the ambience of one of his favourite natural locales.

He recalls his perception of the Western Ghats: "I've taken these elements from nature. I love the drama of light and shade, the forms of the clouds, the way the light through the trees moves with you. It's such a beautiful expression."

Rendered artistically, how does it look to the observer? At first, the sound of flowing water beckons the ear. Softly, it flows down the incline at the top.

The flow intensifies when one views it through the circular metal plate midway down the mural.

The water streams vertically down the central granite slabs to the base, with the impact of a quiet waterfall. Through the compressed glass — with minimally etched copper reliefs on it — that covers the subtle lighting at the base, giant copper arch towards the ceiling.

Their subdued glint plays with the metallic sheen of the stainless steel pipes that soar towards the `birds' that float free on fishing wire.

Higher up, etched lines on frosted glass, with contrapuntal indigo inserts of bevelled glass, play with the moving forms in moulded fibreglass.

Without a hint of foliage, without a tint of green, Gurudas summons up images both natural and fluid.

"In order to realise what I had in mind, so many others helped me out," he says, pointing out the key contributions by the plumber, who helped to camouflage the three-quarter inch circular pipes, the granite cutters and the fabricators.

The team, thus, is integral to the theme.

On an impulse, he switches off the foyer lights over the mural. In that instant, the subdued sky-like patterns atop the mural surge to life. The birds wave gently, airborne on air-conditioned currents.

The wavy lines on the frosted glass reveal their cloudy depths, picking out blue highlights that hinted at the encompassing sky.

Suddenly, a recognisable image comes to the fore against the birds in motion. Can it be the forehead and trunk of a Ganesha? "It is," says Gurudas. "He inspires me. He represents the intellect, perhaps in Intel.

To me, he is a master of the Shastras, the one who wrote down the Mahabharata."

Prior to the Intel assignment, Gurudas has tried his hand at mixed media murals at many of Bangalore's public buildings. Such as the giant terracotta and fibreglass Surya on the outer façade of the Tata Telecom building on Hosur Road. Its sunny rays in terracotta, with fibreglass contrasts, often cause traffic to slow down at night, while drivers and passengers alike take in the image.

His other public works include a large, intricate terracotta and oxidised copper mural for the reception area of The Chancery Hotel on Lavelle Road.

And a mosaic-driven evocation of a zoo at a farm on the outskirts of Bangalore. And a sports-oriented exercise for a telecom recreation centre. Through these and other visual essays on the wall, Gurudas proves how diverse his talent can be — a far cry from his 20 feet by 10 feet first mural for the Himalaya Pharmaceuticals corporate office in Peenya in 1994.

"I find it exciting to do public art," Gurudas confesses, "because so many more people can see it. So few can access the art in a private collection."

There is a recurrent rhythm to murals by Gurudas, the sense of an individual deeply in tune with music.

A man who loves percussion, who plays the tabla and the pakhawaj, whether to focus his own mind or to jam with his friends. A being who deifies the sounds of the Kirana gharana, whether rendered by Bhimsen Joshi or other masters.

As the Intel mural recedes into his past, what does the future hold? An external mural with fibreglass butterflies, each 12 to 15 kg., for a jewellery showroom in central Chennai. That's a project he's working on with his wife, Amita. And another Bangalore-based mural in which he is exploring the potential of neon lights.

Occasionally hampered by his client's specifications, celebrating creatively when given a free hand, Gurudas Shenoy's murals remain a quest for public art — through experiments with both unusual materials and ideas beyond the folkloristic, the naturalistic, the mundane.

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