I’ve gone to all the Art Fair Philippines since it started in 2013. It’s an exciting event to go to because the big galleries are there, representing the most interesting artists in the country. Art Fair Philippines is a great way to feel the pulse of the local art scene (which many are calling the best in the region, along with Indonesia) and meet other like-minded people. This year, I went with my graphic artist friend Joyce.
I love Art Fair, but I find it hard to really appreciate the artworks because there are so many of them. This year, there are 40 exhibitors with maybe a hundred or more artists and works between them. Walking around The Link becomes an artistic blur, as there’s always the promise of a gallery or a more provocative piece next door. It’s exactly like Tinder.
At its best, Art Fair is a great way to introduce art to a new market. Writer and artist Carina Santos wrote in her column for The Philippine Star, “Art fairs are, admittedly, not the best way to experience art and this one was probably meant to be just an introduction, a sort of primer on an art scene that even I haven’t exhausted.”
Ideally, the beauty of the works should entice this new market to explore more galleries, which are more intimate than The Link, to savor the craftsmanship, to drink in the concept, and to admire the curation.
This year is breathtaking. Here are some of my favorite works:
Mark Justiniani’s Infinity series for The Drawing Room was one of the best parts of the fair. I’m still not sure how he does it, but he manages to make the floor an endless pit and a wall a limitless tunnel. It felt unsettling looking into the infinite void, but I was incredibly impressed.
I also enjoyed Martha Atienza’s video installation of Fair Isle 59°41’20.0”N 2°36’23.0”W. It’s a 63 minute slow motion loop of the Atlantic Ocean, a clip the artist took on her way to a residency after winning the Ateneo Art Awards. It’s a soothing and contemplative piece, and I found myself mesmerized by the piece.
I also loved the colossal piece Nona Garcia did called Before the Sky. Similar to Atienza’s Fair Isle, it’s a large scale painting of a view above the clouds. It’s thoughtful and meditative. The details are superb.
Yod x Kogure Gallery from Japan featured their local artists, like photographer Nobuyoshi Araki and painter Yayoi Kusama.
I enjoyed these paintings by Romeo Lee, one of my favorite local artists. I was first introduced to him when Delirium, one of the galleries that exhibited in Art in the Park in 2012, gave me a notebook with his painting of Number 8 on the cover. I personally met him in Art Fair Philippines and I had it with me at the time, so I showed it to him, and he signed it and drew a self-portrait inside.
There was a solo exhibit of Fernando Zobel’s works, another favorite.
The details of these works are stunning. I failed to catch the names of the artists or the works, but they are achingly beautiful.
These Leeroy New chairs look fun to sit on.
I loved this work in Artinformal. It’s a series of cutouts of professionals with their jobs written next to them. It’s easy to miss, but one of the lower frames has a homeless person sleeping. You really have to take in the whole series to appreciate it, but it’s rewarding.
This hologram reflects the time we live in now. This phrase is relevant to me as one of the social media managers for WhenInManila.com.
I love the commentary of this one (if I got it right, that is).
The youthful vibe of these artworks got my attention.
The macabre designs of these artworks also piqued my curiosity. The first is by Jojo Legaspi for Art Verite and the second is from Finale Art File.
These collages are another favorite. I didn’t catch the name of the artist, but I’m pretty sure this is by Carina Santos.
Gallery Orange’s Kilas: Unveiled Seeing with Heightened Perceptiveness is a series of eye paintings done by different artists. It was creepy to be faced with so many eyes, but I liked how each artist imbued his piece with his personality.
Felix Bacolor’s series on pigs for Galeria Duemila is political in nature (to signify greed and corruption), but I loved how colorful his artworks are. It bordered on kitschy, but there was an elegance present.
I liked the melancholic nature of Maya Hewitt’s work for Nunu Fine Art. I liked this painting the most. The model’s emotion mixed with the print of her dress reveals so much about this painting and draws you in.
Epjey Pacheco’s mythology of his Kampons for Secret Fresh is impressive. His paintings, sketches, and figures were all Kampons in different iterations. What a joy to see.
The details of EJ Cabangon’s Transcend series for Artesan Gallery is almost too remarkable. These are paintings!
Archivo 1984 partnered with van Gogh is Bipolar’s Jetro Rafael to create an experiential exhibit in its own little world. If you’re familiar with the restaurant, you’d know that Rafael is bipolar, and the series of works show how he sees the world.
The intricate design of this cutout is just too beautiful.
The photos above are just a small fraction of all the artworks included in this year’s Art Fair Philippines. It’s overwhelming, yes, but it just encourages me to visit the galleries and see it in a more cozy setting. You should do the same. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.