March 09, 2007


This article came up today at Manila Bulletin,
we like to share it with you...

The rising graffiti and street art culture
by yonina chan

WE don’t have street art battles here, where you have different graffiti crews competing with each other, and we respect each other’s works, we don’t go over them,” says Pilipinas Street Plan artist Ungga. “We’re actually harmonious—one big community.”

"Graffiti crews aren’t the same as gangstas, which is what everyone assumes, because it’s not about violence but respect and art," says Bonz, from the SBA crew or Samahan ng mga Batang Aerosol from the south. "We want people to see these positive things. Usually, when people look at you holding a can of spray paint, they already have a negative image of you. But you can bet they wouldn’t look at you negatively if you were holding a paintbrush instead."

In most countries, where the art form is well-known and widely accepted and even respected, graffiti and street artists didn’t quite imagine their works going "legal" the way that it has, appearing in galleries and even museums instead of brick walls and freight trains. In the Philippines, however, the culture is a little different, with art spaces already open to the art form that is in a kind of infancy compared to the rest of the world.

While graffiti and street art has existed in the country for decades, and has found smaller communities in the last few years, it was only late last year that the different local crews gathered together, holding their first group exhibit entitled Pilipinas Street Plan 1 at the Store for All Seasons, which has featured mostly stickers brought in by from all over the world. With different individuals and group finding each other’s works on the streets and eventually connecting online, the few months since the first gathering have resulted in far more extensive works for the current show, PSP2: Replanning The Cube, which was created in the week before the show’s opening, from wall art incorporating the usual 3D effects, arrows, color transitions, and various other effects, to full illustrations, installation pieces, and even sculptural works.

Owing to the size of the graffiti and street art community, and the consequent appreciation for simply finding others who share their craft, graffiti has become open to everyone from serious artists, graphic designers, illustrators, students, to anyone even remotely interested to start from the basics—namely, art on the streets—to collective shows in the more experimental and contemporary art spaces. "Different people actually get into serious art because of graffiti," says Swedish artist Ober. "A lot are from the poor areas, and this is how they discover what they can do."

There has yet to be a truly Filipino aesthetic in graffiti art, although certain artists have developed a Filipino character in their pieces and throw-ups using specific colors and cultural elements like alibata. In terms of crossing the local laws, there are still no political undertones to the works being done, and the crews respectfully avoid places like schools, monuments, and statues.

"The aim of our groups is for graffiti and street art to become known and accepted as a serious art," says Mutation Nation. "We know it’s not mainstream, and it was literally underground art, starting as subway art in New York. But instead of all those ads and postings for tuberos or weight loss or government campaigns covering Manila, or those dirty or dark walls in alleys and backstreets of the city, we want to introduce a kind of beautification using street art."

real big ups and much respect to Yonina Chan -thanks!