Mural art is referred to as an art form which is applied directly on a surface of a building. This would usually be a wall while there have been instances when ceilings and other large permanent surfaces were used. Murals are often large and loud meaning that they have a message and would often be incorporated to include the architectural elements of the specific space. A mural is different from a large wall painting where the former makes use of the elements of the surroundings as part of the art work like the stairs, corner and such. Meanwhile, a wall painting would very much be a painting which is applied onto a wall. On top of that, it is also known to be different from a marouflage which is a painting on a large canvas attached to a wall.
The earliest form of murals were recorded that dates back to many years B.C which was found at the Chavuet Cave in south of France that existed around the Upper Paleolithic era. Some have also been discovered and still exist from the Egyptian tombs while mural art only began to gain momentum during the ‘muralista’ art movement in Mexico. It was around this time that artists like Jose Orozco, David Siqueiros and Diego Rivera were most prominent while many had already established their own signatures.
Techniques like fresco is perhaps one of the most popular mediums where water-soluble paints are used while today, media which are water-based or oil are used. In the modern art world, murals have become more like a challenge to contemporary artists rather than one which allows them to set a career in. Other common techniques known to have been adopted in mural art include secco which means ‘dry’ in Italian and mezzo-fresco.
In most cases, muralists tend to use acrylic or the common house paints for their works. This is because they are easy to find and are water soluble. Some muralists are also known to have used airbrush, coloured spray and such to create the desired effect of their art work. Typically, the challenge in mural art is in the incorporating the architectural elements of the space rather than in the painting itself. This is because an artist could regard a mural as a very large piece of canvas and the surface would be the only challenge. Blending in the stair rails or the bends and corners into the artwork would be the main issue that the artist would need to address.
Perhaps the most popular mural in Malaysia would be the one which can be seen along the main and front walls of Muzium Negara. This is one which was painted by Cheong Lai Tong that depicted the village life and the people of the country and has become quite an icon among the landmarks of Malaysia. Another example would be the walls outside of the then Pudu Jail which was painted by ex-convict Pha Tee which has since been demolished and made way for new development projects.