When I arrived in Canggu, Bali, I was stunned by the street art covering some of the walls. A lot has changed since then, and it seems that no walls are blank anymore. However, before that happened, I had a chance to talk to Konfucius, one the founders of Choose Life (CL), a crew that has left a distinct mark on the walls of Canggu.
(All of the below photos come from CL crew’s collection.)
CL crew seems to have grown over the time. Are you open to taking new people under CL’s wing?
We are growing but, at the same time, we are not actively looking to grow. It’s not about the numbers. It’s more of a mutual, unspoken understanding. If we come across someone that really ‘gets it’ then we’re open to cooperation.
Did you come to Bali with painting in mind or is it something that happened once you got here?
I never went to Bali to paint, it just happened. Painting is something that I simply need to do. If I don’t paint, I feel inner angst, and one of the few ways to release it, is to paint. I never really go to places with the sole purpose of painting. It’s not something that I can, or want to, control.
In late 2014, I went through a period of decluttering my life. I sold most of my stuff, so I could do what I wanted, which was travelling and painting. I came to Bali in March 2015 and it was meant only as a stopover. Bali gets a pretty bad rap back home, mainly because there’s a lot of dickheads that hang around Kuta, and the island can be seen as a bit cheap and easy holiday destination.
However, on that trip, I stumbled across Canggu, a place which completely changed my opinion about Bali. A friend said that Canggu was worth checking out, so I rode to Seminyak and walked up the beach to Old Man’s. As soon as I got there, I knew something was different. It wasn’t the typical Bali I knew… I realise that it sounds cliché, but I really did fall in love with the place.
A few days turned into 2 weeks. After that, I went back home to Perth, but I kept on coming back. All in all, back then I spent a few months in Canggu.
How do you plan a mural? Is it a collective design and effort from the very beginning?
It all starts with finding the right spot to paint. How it feels, how the people that live in the area would see it… Then, we come up with something that would suit the local aesthetics and that’s why we like to paint the traditional Balinese Barong in some of our murals. We try to be respectful to what the locals would like. After all, they are the most important people when it comes to appreciating our work.
Sometimes there’s little to no planning at all. We rarely sketch anything in preparation for a wall. There are usually 1 or 2 people who find the spot to paint and have a vision of what would look good there. We then talk about it and get it done.
I suppose it all goes back to having that mutual understanding, as a lot of things are left unsaid and planning is sometimes one of them. Considering that the CL crew members are very often in different parts of the world, most of the murals that you see are done by only 1 or 2 people at a time, as is in the case of Canggu.
We all have extremely varying styles and everyone brings something different to the table. We don’t enforce anyone to fit in the mould or ‘be a certain type’.
In which countries can we find CL’s murals?
Being from different backgrounds and living in various parts of the world helps us to locate our paintings in various countries. Thanks to this, our work can be found in spots such as New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Holland, Australia, Indonesia, Germany, France and Spain.
That’s quite a lot! How does it feel to know that CL’s murals are in so many different countries?
Knowing that your stuff is seen by a lot of people each day is a good feeling, but personally, that’s not what drives me. I do graffiti because it makes me feel good. I like to travel too, and being able to combine the two is great. If people are seeing the murals around the world and like them, it’s just another bonus. I don’t focus on this.
Canggu’s walls are changing all the time and another visit in the outdoor gallery is in order. Stay tuned!