Young artist's eye-catching murals

INDU ELANGOVAN

At Taps and Tasty Bar on Upper Dickson Road, a painting of an Indian man clad in angavastram (traditionally a piece of white cloth worn by men over the shoulders) and a hipster hat looks down at hungry diners.

The mural on the otherwise plain cement wall was created by Ms Sangheeta Paramasivan, a Malaysian artist living in Singapore.

The 27-year-old, who started painting on walls at 15, has painted over 50 murals in Singapore's restaurants, bars, gyms and houses.

She grew up watching her mother and grandmother paint Hindu gods to decorate homes during the festive season.

That inspired her to try her hand at drawing portraits on paper.

She gradually began to incorporate Indian elements in her murals.

From legendary Indian painter and artist Raja Ravi Varma-inspired murals to a recently done larger-than-life painting of a green walrus playing the sitar, Ms Sangheeta's works have garnered the attention of many Indians in Singapore.

She said the tough part about painting murals is climbing up and down a ladder or scaffolding and working with her arms at full stretch.

"Painting on a cement wall is not an easy job because the cement absorbs the paint, which means I have to apply many layers to get the final result that I want," she said.

The artist recalled some of the difficulties she faced when painting a three-storey wall at La Boca Bistro Bar on North Bridge Road.

"Painting a mural is not like painting on a piece of paper," said Ms Sangheeta.

"Sometimes as soon as I finish painting a section, it'll start raining and the rainwater will destroy the artwork. I'll have to start all over again.

"When I paint portraits on walls, I have to see the full drawing to see if the face has come out well. But since I'm very close to the wall, I will not be able to see it. When I try to go a little further and look at it, the scaffolding will obstruct the view."

These days murals are not exclusive to heritage districts, hipster areas and Housing Board blocks.

Ms Sangheeta is one of the very few artists who people engage to get murals done in their homes.

The requests come in all shapes and sizes but she loves it when customers give her the freedom to explore and be creative with her artwork.

Many believe that mural painting services are expensive and therefore their homes cannot be beautified with creative works. Ms Sangheeta provides her services at a reasonable price.

Many people have told her that being an artist in Singapore is not sustainable and that she should get a "proper job" and "settle down".

The artist said her biggest motivation was proving them wrong. She hopes to start an art school and studio one day.

 indue@sph.com.sg

 
 
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