Israeli muralist Rami Meiri is tired. He spent the weekend applying his signature style to a war-damaged town in northern Israel and he's been on the phone all morning to Taipei, discussing details of an impending project. During the past few months he has travelled to Beijing, Buenos Aires and the US and he's completing a highway overpass project in Tel Aviv. 'I'm an urban artist,' he says. 'My language is visual.' Meiri's bright, acrylic murals mirror Israel's lighter side, portraying pub culture, nightlife and beach-goers lazing in the sand. Splashed across the country's beach fronts, building facades and cultural centres, his work is now beginning to turn up outside Israel. In May, Meiri was commissioned by a joint Chinese-Israeli venture to paint a mural at the Xiao Liu Ge Zhuang village elementary school in Lixian Township, outside Beijing. He spent several weeks observing and painting, and says the experience was 'magical and special'. 'I don't speak Chinese and the schoolchildren didn't speak Hebrew or English,' he says. 'They would watch me work, but we couldn't communicate formally. So I resorted to telling them stories in Hebrew.' The commission, part of the Join Hands Facing the New Countryside project, is an Israeli government initiative aimed at exchanging agricultural, cultural and technological know-how as China develops its rural regions. The mural and dedication were timed to coincide with Israel's Independence Day in May. Israel's ambassador to China, Yehoyada Haim, says the embassy and 20 Israeli companies and individuals donated about 500,000 yuan to the project. Village head Wang Yongzhi was pleased with the exchange and says he hopes some of the trial farming techniques introduced will be widely adopted. Meiri says his part in the project was to spread goodwill and cheer, which he achieved by creating a feeling of openness and nature on the red brick wall surrounding the Daxing District school. 'I wanted to give the wall a feeling of inviting and add elements of nature,' he says. 'Murals aren't common in China.' During his stay in Beijing, he also lectured to local artists on his techniques and training. Meiri started painting murals in the 1980s, while studying for an art degree at Tel Aviv's Avni Institute - 'Tel Aviv needed some beauty and I needed the exposure' - and his quick sketch technique, capturing people in motion, soon caught on. Keith Haring and South American culture are his major influences. 'Haring had half a minute to capture subway trains and passengers so he wouldn't get caught,' says Meiri. 'He used simple lines and strokes. I relate to that minimalism. I don't use a lot of background detail in my work. South America, on the other hand, was where I travelled after my army service. The dancing, happiness and energy affected my style. One of my favourite themes is Carnival.' Meiri's talent for portraying life's lighter side is a major factor in his commissioned work. He says that, despite Israel's troubles and his personal aversion to politics, he has a sense of responsibility. 'When a war is on, it's my war, too,' he says. 'Then, it's my job to give people a feel of returning to normal, even if life hasn't returned to normal. Last week, I worked on a youth cultural centre in [the Israel-Lebanon border town] Kiryat Shmona. The war is over, the buildings are fixed up, but something inside the people hasn't come back yet. It's my job to help bring it back.' During the 1991 Gulf war, Meiri was commissioned to paint a mural in a Tel Aviv suburb hit by Scud missiles. After a series of suicide bombings in central Israel a few years ago, he was asked to boost morale by applying his signature touch to a hugely visual, high-rise office complex. 'This isn't a normal country, but if I give people the feeling that there's still art and life going on then maybe they'll feel OK about where they live.' Meiri's work was exhibited in Manhattan's Bronfman Galleries last spring as part of a graffiti artist collective, and he flew to Buenos Aires earlier in the year to help refurbish the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association building bombed by Hezbollah in 1994. He says he's optimistic about future projects and negotiations for a mural in Taiwan. 'As I achieve my goals and dreams I find new ones to pursue,' Meiri says. 'When I can't do the huge murals any more, I'll probably end up sitting on the beach boardwalk sketching people as they go by.'