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Paris-educated mural artist on using walls as a canvas: 'you can go crazy' in kids' rooms

How did you get into mural painting? "Accidentally. I splashed some paint on a wall and liked the effect. I did a lot of experimenting. Everything was self-taught. Trying, failing and trying again. I realised I lacked technique and needed to learn from people who specialised in murals.

"So I went back to school at L'Ipedec [L'Institut Superieur de Peinture Decorative de Paris] for a few weeks to learn basic techniques. I picked two workshops " patinas and creative wall coating, where we learned to do textures with plaster and pigments. I always have one wall [in my studio] dedi­cated to trials, to test and play with materials."

Bennani plays with colours, textures and techniques to add depth to a room's interior design scheme.

How did those lessons change the way you work? "It was a whole different world. Before, if I had an effect in mind I could do it, but more by chance. Now, when I see a patina or effect, I can tell you exactly which brush and technique has been used. Classes help you go deeper creatively because you control all your techniques. You also learn to be efficient, to save time and material. You get results."

What else have you learned? "I realised you can intro­duce textures inspired by nature, along with colours, for a more artistic mural. [For example], you could use real concrete, but the fact that I can do a concrete effect and add colours makes it special. That's the magic of paint."

Your first murals were for children's rooms. What do you like most about working with kids? "A kid's universe definitely has more creativity. You can go crazy. I had a great child­hood, so it's nice to get to go back because of my projects. I love to interact with kids. I like to talk to them first, since it's their room. Often, kids are obsessed with one thing, so I build a world around that."

One of Bennani's murals in a kid's room.

What inspires you? "My environment " the elements around me, nature. I have a real attraction to textures and patterns, probably because I come from Morocco and I grew up with that. We don't reproduce figurative things in our culture, it's all geometry. I also like to bring poetry and whimsy to my work, which is usually very graphic."

Describe some of your recent projects. "I worked on two this year that were quite special. There was the renovation of a 45-square-metre deco­rative ceiling in a private mansion in Repulse Bay. I spent three weeks creating detailed decor by hand. Then I painted some windows for Van Cleef & Arpels' shop in Prince's Building. They have very high standards so it was a challenging project."

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Copyright (c) 2018. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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