Contra Costa Times
(Walnut Creek, CA) |
BREATH OF LIFE ONTO BARE HOUSE WALLS
FOR NEARLY TWO DECADES, OAKLEY'S
PAWEL BENDISZ HAS BEEN TRANSFORMING INTERIORS INTO ROOMS WITH A
COETSEE, STAFF WRITER
OAKLEY -- Standing
on a wooden plank more than a ceiling's height above the ground,
Pawel Bendisz presses a brush to a surface and begins
working his magic.
The graceful sweeping lines of a fog-enshrouded Golden Gate
Bridge emerge against the backdrop of San Francisco's skyline in
muted, monochromatic colors.
|The massive painting
will be 10 feet by 16 feet and is the latest of about four dozen
murals the Polish-born artist has created on his canvases of walls
"When you stand before a white wall, I'm excited," says the
44-year-old Bendisz in heavily accented English as he pauses
to survey his handiwork.
"It's a challenge. What you have in your mind, your sketch,
you have to transform. The process of creation, it's wonderful."
For nearly two decades, the Oakley artist has been
transforming interiors into rooms with a view, covering them with
landscapes, still lifes and other classic images.
Bendisz often uses "trompe l'oeil" -- translated from
the French, it means "deceive the eye" - a masterful use of light,
shadow and perspective that makes objects appear three-dimensional.
Greek urns and busts decorate niches that are not really
A realistic bathroom towel is casually draped over the sill
of a nonexistent window that opens onto a seascape.
A ladybug in one garden scene is so lifelike that it
tantalizes viewers to pluck it off the wall.
Bendisz's talent surfaced early in life.
"As far as I remember, I always loved to draw, to paint, to
do something manual," said the slight, unassuming man, who at first
did most of his work in charcoal and pencil.
He began private art lessons in his late teens, and while in
college worked part-time for Warsaw's National Museum, restoring
Although he studied civil engineering in college, because it
seemed a more viable way to make a living, Bendisz soon
decided to devote himself to his first love.
He came to the United States in July 1988 hoping to earn
higher wages than in Poland, where he had been living with his
sister because he could not afford his own apartment.
Bendisz settled in San Francisco and began painting
murals about 12 years ago, starting with an antiques showroom.
"I love doing the kind of creation on a big scale," he said.
"You are changing entirely your interior, your room, the feeling.
You can do basically anything you want. That's the great challenge
because it's difficult. I'm not afraid of difficulty. It needs
especially time and patience and some skill -- knowledge of colors,
Although he spends most of his time painting murals,
Bendisz restores paintings as well.
His most difficult project to date was a three-month
assignment restoring 10 ceiling panels in San Francisco's Custom
House, each section containing three or four huge paintings.
Bendisz does reproductions of originals by such
masters as Michelangelo, da Vinci, Renoir and Monet and decorates
all kinds of furniture.
He especially enjoys creating his own Byzantine-style
religious paintings depicting Christ, the Madonna, the saints and
A king's throne
As news of Bendisz's work traveled by word of mouth,
he began landing jobs as far away as Nevada and Los Angeles, as well
as throughout the Bay Area.
He has charged anywhere from about $600 to $21,000 depending
on the size and complexity of the project. Photographic-quality
pieces cost more than simpler paintings that resemble sketches,
Doctors and attorneys, interior designers, antiques dealers
and even a few celebrities have commissioned him.
Bendisz's client list includes Olympic champion Brian
Boitano, who hired him to paint a classical scene, complete with
victor's wreath above the toilet, in one of his bathrooms. The
"throne room" includes a three-dimensional stone tablet inscribed
with the Latin numbers 1988, the year the figure skater won his gold
medal in Calgary.
Other examples of Bendisz's work include a dancing
Bacchus surrounded by women in flowing robes playing tambourines.
In a Woodside home that has a bathroom with a vaulted
ceiling, Bendisz created a stylized sun against a blue sky
and puffy white clouds.
Other houses have a ring of cherubs floating around their
One client was so smitten with his Saratoga mansion that he
had Bendisz paint a replica of the sprawling home on a wall
in the entryway, with one difference.
The man wanted Bendisz to give his property even more
panache by adding a vineyard in the foreground.
Bendisz chuckles as he examines a photograph of the
"Forget wife -- he wanted cat here," he says, pointing to the
Persian he painted in a window.
Of all his work, however, Bendisz says the one he is
proudest of is his two boys, 5 -year-old Mateusz and 7-year-old
"Unfortunately they move during the day," he said. "I'd
rather have them on the walls."
You can see more of Bendisz' work on his Web site at
http://home.earthlink.net/~gpbendisz. Reach Rowena Coetsee at
925-779-7141 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OAKLEY ARTIST Pawel Bendisz's many clients include
Olympic skating champion Brian Boitano. This painting in Discovery
Bay, the latest of about 48 murals he has done, will be 10 feet by
16 feet. (Herman Bustamante Jr./
Copyright (c) 2002 Contra Costa