Basharat Bashir

Wall painting Vs Canvas Painting

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We know that the earliest surviving examples of paintings come from the cave paintings that date back to 30,000 BC.  The walls and ceilings of caves were first to offer space for the artist to execute and exhibit his/her artwork. It was only in renaissance that canvas was introduced and one of the earliest surviving oils on canvas is a French Madonna with angels from around 1410 in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin. Paintings on canvas were cheaper than a panel painting, and may sometime indicate a painting regarded as less important. Once introduced canvas paintings took over the art world and most artists after renaissance period preferred canvas over walls. Although mural painting kept its position as an important genre of art many of the famous paintings that we see around us from Rembrandts portraits to Jakson Pollocks expressionist drip paintings are on canvases.

Painting on wall and painting on canvas offers different challenges and if we see work of artists like Jackson Pollock who used to spread his canvas on floor enabling him to view and paint his canvases from all angles, this sort of procedure is unlikely to be applied while painting on a wall. Unlike canvas which an artist can adjust according to his wish, walls remain firm and do not give artist any respite in terms of any adjustments. While painting murals artist is forced to adjust him/her according to the demands of wall or ceiling to be able to achieve a desirable result. A permanent and immovable surface like wall challenges artist with its inflexibility while as canvas accepts an artist as its master and fulfills all his/her conditions.  Canvas offers a submissive surface for an artist to use, stretch, spread, tilt or hang while as a wall’s test artist with all sorts of challenges. Although murals give a tough time to artists and canvas painting appears to be more comfortable medium there are still many artists who prefer painting murals instead of canvas.

A canvas is more like a poppet and artist has to look after it from the time its being stretched on a wooden frame up until it has been exhibited in an art gallery and sold to an artlover/buyer, while as murals are self sufficient and are on exhibit as soon as artist starts painting it. A canvas painting exhibited in an art gallery invites limited viewers and a finished mural especially one that is outside in a street or roadside wall attracts all sorts of viewers to it. Murals which are mostly sponsored do not require an art gallery and artist do not to have carry it from one place to another in search of buyers. In recent years there has been an enormous development as far as murals are concerned. There are murals in every city challenging the gallery system in the art world. Murals are for the people coming from all genres of society, from a sweeper to a minister all are equally encouraged to emphasize on elements of a mural. Murals play a critical role in creating consciousness about art in a society and in creating awareness about the events happening around. And as art is a medium of expression in that sense murals are more adequate in expressing an idea, thought, concept or event to larger audience than canvas painting. In today’s world Muralists and Graffiti artists play an important role in shaping a society by creating artwork speaking directly to general public. And it’s a fact that people feel more connected and confident in criticizing or appreciating a mural/wall painting instead of a painting on canvas exhibited in a high-class art gallery.

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