Q&A: Rabi, one-half of street art duo Cyrcle, on painting BGC

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Cyrcle, a two-man art collective from Los Angeles, California, was one of several international artists at One Festival, the first-ever public art festival in Metro Manila held in Bonifacio Global City last May.

Their work, the massively trippy painting of an astronaut floating sideways, punctuated by neon green lines, lies happily on the wall of Icon Building, covering about three floors.

Coconuts Manila hung out with Rabbi a few nights while he finished his mural. 



Can you tell us more about your piece ?
The design is [part of] ‘Nothing Exists,’ which is a great oxymoron because to say nothing exists is also to say everything exists. It’s really an exploration for us as artists into belief systems and the idea of what people believe and what people find faith in. We’re looking at science and religion and everything in between, and really, we have an interesting saying, that says science could never disprove God and religion could never prove God. So it’s this interesting idea of, you know, ‘what does it all mean’ sort of thing. And who better to express this idea than an astronaut? This is where it comes from, Davey [Detail] and I just touching this idea of belief.

So how was the process like, converting the idea into this massive piece of art?
First, it starts with the idea, and then we figure out how to translate the message visually. Davie is really good at that. He has a great eye for design. And then it gets executed depending on how we want it to look. For this one, we took inspiration from our current body of work. We did everything on a computer. We have a picture of the wall, and then we design for that wall and then mock it up. We used projection [to] get an outline and then we fill in details with spray paint and brushes. It’s as simple as that.

We’re sure it’s more complicated than that. But anyway, why the idea of exploration for BGC One Fest?
What we like to do is go into a new environment or culture and express something that we find true to us, something that we know. It would make more sense for us to speak from ourselves and try and inspire the culture and open their eyes to this new thing that we do. This one, it’s the perfect size for that wall, it fit really well. It also visually expresses this concept of the unknown area of the universe, this guy is floating in time and space.

How much of Metro Manila did you know before coming here?
No clue. I asked some friends to tell us and they mentioned a few clubs and The Fort…


So would it be safe to say that astronaut could represent Cyrcle exploring unknown cities to them, like Metro Manila?
Exactly. The work comes from us. The first thing we do is ask: What do we want to say? What do we want to say to the world? It’s very much a time for exploration for us.

Would you say street art is important to a city’s identity?
I think art in general is. I don’t really like the term “street art”. I prefer public art, but that’s because “street art” is used so much these days. But anyway, I think art — music, all these creative outlets, carry the soul of the people. It’s really important for society. Art is so vital and by putting it out on the street for people to see, I think it’s a good thing. I don’t know, man. Honestly, it’s hard. There’s a lot of people who don’t give a shit. That’s okay, but it’s for people who do.

If street art can determine a city’s identity, what can you say about Manila?
I haven’t seen Manila yet. You know, I went to the mall the other day and over the edge of the mall, I saw it. I haven’t been there, but I saw it, and I know there’s soul there. There has to be. Because anywhere you see struggle, you’ll find soul. And I can see there’s struggle here. Dilapidated old houses next to each other, one after the other. I can’t judge Manila yet. I need to go there.

Dilapited old houses — not a very nice thing to see, we know. Do you feel like street art can help solve a city’s eyesore?
I don’t know. That’s interesting. But I think if you bring in a little more culture to the city and have a little more art, it could bridge the gap. It’ll make the poor people a little happier and it could bring the professionals and the corporations a little bit more into that world. It could potentially bridge the gap. But I don’t know. It’s not an easy gap to bridge but I think the more art, the better. It’s like having trees. You don’t just want to have cement.

‘Between The Lines’ is at Icon Plaza (7th Avenue cor Federacion Drive, BGC, Taguig). The artwork was part of the ArtBGC NextAct One Festival, where Coconuts Manila was a media sponsor.


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