When a small canvas is no longer enough to hold one’s creative vision, a painter takes his or her art to a bigger platform, not to impress people, but to inspire them.
Murals have been a way for many artists throughout history to take art closer to the masses. Think of Dmitri Vrubel‘s My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love on the Berlin Wall in Germany, Keith Haring‘s We the Youth in Philadelphia, and Jean-André Rixens‘ Salle des Illustres at Le Capitole in France, all are beautiful and bears a bold statement as large as—or even bigger than—the walls they were put on.
Converse’s global initiative, #ConverseCityForest, aims to bring the spotlight on the role art plays in our daily lives through street murals. To convey this, the sneaker brand tapped three local artists to paint murals depicting solidarity, inclusivity, and climate change—things that are apparent in our modern world.
In a conversation with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, artists Blic, RJ Saquian (BVRN), and AG Saño share what goes behind their street art placed on the former textile and commerce of Manila City, proving that even to this day, street murals still have that bold, in-your-face artistic vibe.
Na-assigned ako sa Solidarity theme. Gumawa ako ng apat na mural na magsusupport sa idea ng solidarity, ito po ay ang having a voice, empathy, helping each other, at support (I was assigned with Solidarity as my theme. I created four murals that will support the idea of solidarity, these are having a voice, empathy, helping each other, and support.)
Kilala ako sa paggamit ng mga kamay bilang subject sa mga artworks ko. May mga personified hands din ako na ginagamit bilang trademark ko (I’m known for using hand as a subject in my artworks. I also use personified hands as my trademark).
Yung mga kamay para sa akin automatic na nagsasalita kapag tinignan mo. Nakakabuo na sila ng emotion at language. At bilang isang artist, isa din itong powerful tool na makakapagpabago ng paligid (Hands, for me, automatically communicate when you see them. They create emotion and language. And as an artist, it is also a powerful tool that can change our surroundings).
AG Saño: Climate and Environment
When Converse Philippines approached me, they asked me to paint a mural that depicts the theme of Climate and Environment.
The mural I created reflects my personal advocacy on climate change activism, where we see a world changing drastically as polluting industries continue to burn fossil fuels and pump CO2 into the atmosphere, and young kids taking action, mostly on the streets and even in cyberspace to voice their call for a cleaner and safer future. This mural shows what humanity has done to the environment, as well as the action that the youth has initiated. This mural is inspired by the fact that there are solutions to the climate crisis and, ultimately, there is hope.
RJ ‘BVRN’ Saquian: Inclusivity
The theme for the mural is about Inclusivity and LGBTQ+.
I started the idea with a main subject of two hands holding each other (inclusiveness) and wearing rainbow wristbands that represent the LGBTQ+ community.
Being aware about social issues, inclusivity has a big role, for me. We have this goal to build a culture of inclusivity by understanding a mindset of being welcoming to everyone no matter what your gender, race, class, sexuality, disablity, etc.
In support of the mural I did, I also included the National Flower of the Philippines, jasmine flower (sampaguita), to symbolize love and purity. The pink peony flower represents romance, love between two strangers and beauty in all forms. And lastly, the hibiscus flower (gumamela) to symbolize sincerity and passion.
Images are from @converseph.