I’ve gone to every run of Art Fair Philippines since it started in 2013, so I witnessed how it has grown from an ambitious project gathering the country’s top galleries in one location, to the cultural behemoth that it is today. From 6,000 visitors four years ago (and 22,000 last year), the fair broke records by accommodating 40,000+ guests this year.
It’s hardly surprising that this year would attract more visitors. I’ve noticed that more and more people are becoming interested in art, and events such as Art Fair and Art in the Park help make it a less intimidating field. Whatever people say about selfie-takers, I’m happy to see Filipinos recognizing that our artists are incredibly talented and should be supported.
The people visiting Art Fair for the first time were in for a treat, as organizers Trickie Lopa, Dindin Araneta, and Lisa Periquet set up an exciting run this year.
Apart from the fair that ran from February 16 to 19 at The Link Carpark in Makati City, guests were treated to the newly-launched 10 Days of Art, a 10-day initiative filled with talks, public art, parties, museum tours, and a silent disco.
One of the highlights during the fair were the Projects, which saw thought-provoking installations from noted Filipino artists. Some of the most popular Projects were WSK’s sound art, where you can make music by touching the Wall of Sound; and Dex Fernandez’s Garapata-filled room, where you can customize your Garapata and see it projected on a screen. Personally, one of my favorites was Maria Jeona Zoleta’s thought-provoking work. I became a fan the day I saw it.
Outside the carpark, Makati passersby also participated in the series of installation art scattered around the city, from James Nares’ video installation Street at the Ayala Triangle Gardens to Dirty Kids South’s street art at the Legazpi underpass. Throughout the week, there were busker performances at streets, underpasses, and walkways.
Another highlight were the Talks, in partnership with the Ateneo Art Gallery and Museum Foundation of the Philippines. Art Fair Philippines invited respected names in the field, like Ferran Barenblit, director of Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA); and Tobias Berger, head of art at Hong Kong’s revitalized Central Police Station (CPS), to talk about important issues in the art scene. The Talks were so popular that over 600 people signed up!
Of course, the centerpiece of the fair is the art. This year, 46 galleries from the Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan showed the works from the region’s best artists. There were even surprise pieces from Takashi Murakami, Nobuyoshi Araki, Yayoi Kusama, Man Ray, and Cecil Beaton, which made me squeal with joy.
Each year, I wonder how Lopa, Araneta, and Periquet are going to top themselves. So far, this is my favorite run. I’m excited to see what they have in store for us next year!
*Cover photo from Art Fair Philippines