The Philippine art scene is on the up! Returning to downtown Makati for its fourth edition later this month, Art Fair Philippines takes place from 18 to 21 February 2016. Featuring over 40 local galleries and several Asia-based dealers, this year’s edition attracted many participants by the friendly, informal vibe of previous years.
Outside the four walls of this festive environment, however, what is Manila’s contemporary art scene really like?
For Ringo Bunoan, a seasoned curator in the Philippines art scene, thinks that artist-run spaces like 98B, Post Gallery, Project 20, and Thousandfold capture something essential about the local art scene. “The current art scene in the Philippines is very active and dynamic, with more galleries and art spaces showing a broad range of works,” says Bunoan who is also putting together a special program focusing on Manila’s art spaces for Art Dubai in March.
Meanwhile, prominent collector couple Lito and Kim Camacho, have just opened “A Taste of Gutai” (February 4—April 10), a showcase of the avant-garde 1950s Japanese art movement. Featuring works from their own personal collection, the exhibition is being hosted by the privately run, Ayala Museum, which anchors the downtown Makati art scene with rotating exhibitions devoted to both Filipino and international contemporary art.
Credit: Google Images
Unlike the more developed art infrastructure in cities like Hong Kong and Singapore, the art scene in Manila still relies heavily on the generosity of individual art patrons and private institutions.
“Private collectors have been the most important factor in art exhibits in the Philippines,” notes Kim Camacho. “The National Museum has improved greatly in the last eight years, but the weight of collections in private hands still outweighs that of the public collections at the moment.”
Also opening to coincide with this year’s Art Fair Philippines is “The World We Live In: Through the Lens of Contemporary Photography” (February 17—March 27), a survey of five globally renowned photographers — Sebastiao Salgado, Annie Leibovitz, Steve McCurry, Robert Polidori, and Edward Burtynsky — co-organized with Sundaram Tagore Gallery and Collective 88.
Although Camacho points out that “you can visit several homes in Manila and find art collections in a good number of them,” it’s the enterprising, DIY spirit of Metro Manila’s growing batch of galleries that best captures the energy of contemporary Philippine art.
“The greatest attractions in the Philippine art scene are the professionally run galleries and the amazing stable of incredibly talented Filipino artists showing in these galleries,” notes Camacho. “The artistic expression of our artists is diverse, original, and bold, because of our mixed cultural heritage and freedom of expression.”
Besides attending the fair, do make a note to check out Silverlens gallery (2320 2F YMC Bldg Don Chino Roces Ave Ext, 1231 Makati). Housed in two separate renovated industrial buildings, connected by a sky bridge, Silverlens will be hosting solo exhibitions till March 12, by emerging local artists Elaine Navas and Eduardo Olbes, and a six-person Japanese art exhibition organized in collaboration with Tokyo’s Tomio Koyama Gallery featuring Atsushi Fukui, Hideaki Kawashima, Keisuke Yamamoto, Nana Funo, Satoshi Ohno, Takuro Kuwata, and Yuko Someya.
Royal Melon Parfait by Satoshi Ohno. JAPAN 7 Exhibition by Silverlens Gallery & Tomio Koyama Gallery.
Credits: Silverlens Gallery, Philippines.
Nearby, Finale Art File (Warehouse 17, La Fuerza, 2241 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati), an airy, high-ceilinged warehouse in the private La Fuerza compound tucked away from the busy Chino Roces Avenue, is presenting “Stagnant Energies” (February 4-27), acclaimed Florence-based photographer Romina Diaz’s solemn depictions of black-and-white interiors.
Across town in Fort Bonifacio, peek into Mo_space (3rd Level, Mos Design Building, Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City), the lone art gallery in a slick designer furniture complex. The gallery is showing young artist Leeroy New (February 13 — March 13), known for his genre-bending works that blend art with elements of theater and fashion.