There are some things that are completely different that no one would even entertain the idea of putting them together. But in 2013, Toni Potenciano and Gisella Velasco combined two very different aspects of media and art and brought them to a whole new level. They put rap lyrics on classic paintings that suits the lyrics best - combining and contrasting the past and the present and giving a new, fresh perspective on some timeless pieces - and put it up through a page they called Fly Art Productions. We got to talk to the brains behind this modern masterpiece and here's what they have to say:
T&G: The two of us have always been drawn to mashups of pop culture and niche market. We had both been fans of Swooshart, Carter Family Portraits, and Modern Vampires of Art History. We were just two bored girls who spend too much time on the Internet (we still are) and we thought that the juxtaposition was a very interesting combination.
Why hip hop lyrics specifically? Which artists and rappers are you most fond of?
T&G: We are both fans of hip hop artists, especially Beyonce and Kanye West, and the contrast between the lyrics and the paintings was both interesting and humorous so we went along with it. For Toni, Caspar David Friedrich is becoming a personal favorite. For Gisella, Edward Hopper has been a favorite for some time.
How do you find the paintings you use that somehow relate to the lyrics?
T&G: It can go either way. Sometimes we just happen to find a painting (Thank you WikiArt!) that is very inspiring and we'll look for a lyric that goes with it. Sometimes we will hear a great soundbyte from a song and scour the internet for a painting that will match well with the lyric.
T&G: There are the more obvious examples--Jay Z's "Picasso Baby", Beyonce's video "Mine" which makes a reference to Magritte's Lovers, Kanye West and Basquiat, and more. Hip hop and rap in general takes a lot from classic sources--from the samples they use in producing a track or in lyrical references. This relationship is also obvious in art itself, with paintings that were inspired by movements of music, which is evident in many artists such as Alfonse Mucha, or even Jackson Pollock. So I guess you can say that art and music always sort of have this dialectical relationship where one influences the other, and bit by bit you see their genres evolving.
How do you feel about the current Philippine art scene?
T&G: The Philippine art scene is vibrant and alive. More than paintings and sculptures, you've got your photographers, your graphic designers, your musicians, etc. Probably a generational thing, but there are lot of great individuals producing original content nowadays (CRWN, Curtismith, And a Half design studio, Serious Studios, BP Valenzuela), and people who've been around for a while (Tim Serrano, Celina de Guzman, Dan Matutina). Although we don't consider ourselves as artists per se, I think at most we are just opportunistic purveroys of culture.
Where did the name Fly Art Productions come from?
T&G: It's a play on the phrase "high art." The "productions" part sounded cool at the time.
T&G: Thank you! One of the most difficult parts of handling Fly Art is juggling the expectations of others for Fly Art and our own attitudes towards it. It's not a job, it's still an art project/hobby for us. We get a lot of people telling us to do this or print this or sell this and it doesn't work that way for us. We didn't go into this with a business mindset so it can be difficult to find a balance.
What do you hope Fly Art Productions achieves by the end of the year? Do you plan on adding new eras or music genres to your already growing designs?
T&G: Our goal is the same as when we we started: we really want Beyonce to notice us. As for new eras or genres, we're not sure because hip hop and its related genres have continued to be a fruitful partnership and we're pretty sure we've reached our quota of Internet phenomenon for our lives (aka just 1).
- Marian Plaza
All photos were taken from their Tumblr and Facebook page.