After 7 Months And 1,400 Gallons Of Paint, 1 Seriously Large Painting Is Finally Done

Nov 18, 2020
Originally published on November 20, 2020 11:25 am

It only took seven months, 20-hour work days and 1,400 gallons of paint, but one of the largest paintings ever to be attempted is now complete.

British artist Sacha Jafri made his final brush stroke this month atop two gutted ballroom floors of Dubai's Atlantis resort, his canvas for the brightly colored oil painting, titled "The Journey of Humanity."

At roughly 17,000 square feet, the painting is about the size of three-and-a-half basketball courts. Jafri says he used 1,100 brushes and more than 300 layers of paint to create the painting.

He couldn't have done it without the help of some smaller artists — he incorporated artwork electronically submitted by children from over 140 countries.

"The child has this beautiful purity and the child is most connected to the soul of the Earth because the child is all about that beginning of life, that purity," Jafri said. "They have the freedom of expression."

The painting is about connection, Jafri said, and is made up of four sections. The first depicts the "soul of the Earth," which flows into the remaining sections: nature, humanity and lastly, the solar system.

"I felt that we had become a little disconnected as humans," he said. "I felt that the world had become full of static. And when the world becomes full of static, it's a real problem because we're made of energy. So we can't communicate with each other because there's too much static in the way."

Jafri plans to cut the gargantuan canvas into 60 separate panels, each piece a reminder of the artist's philosophy.

"If we can remind ourselves how small we are, we can actually embrace humility. And with humility, we can become truly great," he said.

The panels will be auctioned off at a February charity event to support online learning, health care and sanitation in impoverished communities around the world further devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. He hopes to raise $30 million in partnership with The Global Gift Foundation, UNICEF, UNESCO and Dubai Cares.

NPR's Milton Guevara, Chad Campbell and Simone Popperl produced this story for broadcast. Emma Bowman adapted it for the Web.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now the story of a pretty extraordinary piece of art. The painting "Journey Of Humanity" isn't just any painting.

SACHA JAFRI: It's the largest painting ever created in the world, oil on canvas.

MARTIN: That's artist Sacha Jafri. He finished the piece this month.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Jafri has been busy during lockdown because this painting took seven months working, he says, about 20 hours per day.

JAFRI: I used about 1,400 gallons of paint, about 1,100 brushes, and it's about 3- to 400 layers of paint on top of each other.

INSKEEP: The painting's about the size of four basketball courts. Can you imagine going to have that framed? It is layered in bright colors, and it now sits on the floor of a ballroom in a luxury hotel in Dubai.

MARTIN: But Jafri isn't the only artist who contributed to the world's largest painting. He didn't do this alone. He incorporated artwork that children submitted electronically from over 140 countries. Young artists are important to him.

JAFRI: The child has this beautiful purity, and the child is most connected to the soul of the earth because the child is all about that beginning of life, that purity. They have the freedom of expression.

INSKEEP: Now, the finished painting has four sections. The first, we're told, depicts the soul of the earth. The second depicts nature. The third represents humanity. And the fourth is the solar system. If you got that much space, just throw in the whole solar system. Jafri says it's a painting about connection.

JAFRI: I felt that we had become a little disconnected as humans. I felt that the world had become full of static. And when the world becomes full of static, it's a real problem because we're made of energy, so we can't communicate with each other because there's too much static in the way.

MARTIN: Now that "The Journey Of Humanity" is complete, all 17,000 square feet of it, the painter's going to cut it into 70 separate panels, each potentially a reminder of Jafri's philosophy.

JAFRI: And if we can remind ourselves how small we are, we can actually embrace humility. And with humility, we can become truly great.

MARTIN: Jafri will sell each of the panels for charity in hopes to raise $30 million by doing so.

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