Meet the Guy Behind Those Larger-Than-Life Murals All Over Metro Manila
There's a good chance that most of us have walked or driven past one of Jappy Agoncillo's magnetically striking murals around the city. The artist is a master manipulator of mood and light, taking from the vivid imagery of graphic novels and comic books to create these massive pop illustrations.
Murals are more than just street art. Doing murals is actually one of the oldest art forms we have. The tradition of mural painting is said to be about 30,000 years old, studies say. And to enter this proud field, it takes a keen understanding of depth, dynamism, and collective thought spaces. Agoncillo has got all of these going for him.
He's done projects in nearly every nook and cranny in Metro Manila, and has even worked on several murals in countries like New York, Australia, and India. The muralist had also been one of the select artists worldwide to be tapped for Adobe's Photoshop Fantastic Voyage campaign. Agoncillo has worked with brands like Heineken, Johnnie Walker, PayPal, SM, and Ayala. Yes, he's been there and he's done that.
The new Thor: Love and Thunder mural in Bonifacio Global City, commissioned by Disney and Marvel Studios.
SM North Towers Art Walk mural, which was done in collaboration with Japanese art supply brand ZIG Kuretake, SM Malls, and Davies Paint.
So when Disney and Marvel Studios were looking for an artist based in Manila to achieve their vision for a mural for Thor: Love and Thunder in Taguig, the companies approached the muralist with high hopes. Suffice to say, they were pleased. Agoncillo is a big Marvel guy himself, and he tapped into that during the creative process. On his part, it's hard not to look back, considering that he once worked in the corporate world before he truly explored his artistic vision.
"I started making murals when I was 20 years, back in 2015. Before that, I was only making my own paintings and comics. So fast-forward to 2022, Disney tapped me to do the Thor mural and here we are," he said. "The piece just helped bring out the fan in me."
The TITTOS Latin BBQ & Brew mural in San Juan City. Agoncillo hoped to communicate the festiveness of South American culture.
His works are very modern and are odes to his own pop culture heroes. He did the same for his most recent project. "You take a long, hard look at the trailers, posters, soundtrack, and everything. So I built up the vibe from that, especially in the Philippines, where it's vibrant and colorful. It was very easy for me to take what I liked from them."
Disney and Marvel Studios gave Agoncillo a hefty amount of creative freedom for the mural. The good thing is that their partnership with the artist was a perfect fit. The muralist, who can also be categorized as a pop artist and illustrator, does pieces that are very modern, hip, and culturally conscious.
"People have told me that I kind of create comic book splash pages. So 'yun na lang," he said.
Painted in his neighborhood court in Manila, this mural was a passion project for Agoncillo, who wanted to pay tribute to boxing and basketball legends.
The Mood Indigo Music and Arts Festival mural in Mumbai, India.
The Sun Life Financial mural in Santa Rosa, Laguna for the company's "Live Healthier Lives Campaign."
While Agoncillo didn't plan on being an artist in the first place, he has so far built visual playgrounds of his own reminiscent of pop artists' before him—only in much larger scales. He's made the most out of his career change with his desire for color and life. Art, according to him, represents opportunity; "to engage, to learn, to be free, to tell stories, and to inspire others to tell theirs," he once expressed.
Simply put, Agoncillo's works are fun and vibrant. They capture the spectacle of wit and imagination, much like the films of the ever-endearing Thor: Love and Thunder Director Taika Waititi. So what does the muralist think about Waititi's new movie then?
"Everyone says that, before Taika, the Thor movies were kind of in the bottom of the tier of Marvel movies. But now, it's fun," he said. "When Taika came in, he brought this fresh vibe, comedy, and humanity to Thor. That's my favorite aspect. Thor is relatable. Thor is your friend. He's you and he's someone you know."
Agoncillo brings the same energy to his art, too. His works are fresh, jovial, and human. Plus, they're just cool as hell.