The new year is the season for trying out new experiences, and nothing is more life-affirming or transformative than developing an appreciation for the arts. According to writer Thomas Merton, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” It provides a deeper look into the human psyche, and allows us to share and foster creativity and connection with each other. From the visual arts to performance arts like ballet and musicals, art has brought together people of all ages, genders, creeds, and races throughout history.
As we approach the National Arts Month in February, it becomes more and more apparent that the Philippines is a country with a rich history of the visual arts. Greats like Juan Luna, Jose Joya, Araceli Dans , and many more have made their mark on the local arts scene over the decades. And even today, the tradition is alive and kicking, as you can see in our article ’24 Philippine Artists Shaping Local Contemporary Art’. If you’re curious about what’s going on in the Philippine arts scene, 2020 is your chance to broaden your horizons. To start off your art appreciation journey, here are twenty Philippine art galleries that are showcasing the best and brightest of the local modern arts scene.
Light & Space Contemporary
Light & Space Contemporary was first founded in 2010 by brothers Jason Tecson and Joseph Tecson as a venue where young, contemporary artists could showcase their work. Located in West Fairview in Quezon City, one of the gallery’s main objectives is to discover new talent and further young artists’ burgeoning careers. It has an artist-in-residence program that accommodates artists as they develop their works, with resident artists organizing exhibitions and extending the institution’s network. Among the artists who have showcased their work in the gallery are Ana Verayo, Jason Tecson, Thaer Maarouf, and Mala Iqbal, among others.
Light & Space Contemporary can be found at 53 Fairlane St., West Fairview, Quezon City. You can visit their Facebook for more details.
Silverlens Galleries is a giant in the Philippine contemporary art scene, and with good reason. Founded in 2004 by Isa Lorenzo and Rachel Rillo, it aims to bring Philippine artists into the broader framework of contemporary art through a variety of programs. These programs include artist representation, institutional collaboration, art consultancy, and exhibition programming, which includes art fairs and gallery partnerships. Silverlens has exhibited a variety of local and international artists, including Martha Atienza, Patricia Perez Eustaquio, Gary-Ross Pastrana, and Maria Taniguchi.
Silverlens Galleries can be found at 2263 Don Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City. You can visit their Instagram for more details.
MO_Space eschews the traditional format of galleries by focusing on shows that are completely artist-run, showcasing dynamic and innovative works by some of the Metro’s most celebrated contemporary artists. The gallery opened in 2007, and since then has exhibited the works of Roberto Chabet, Lani Maestro, Pardo de Leon, Elaine Roberto-Navas, MM Yu, and Louie Cordero, among many others. MO_Space endeavors to support artists’ visions rather than be driven by the demands of the market. It provides a critical space for artists to develop their ideas and showcase their work and curatorial projects, as well as allows for the documentation and archiving of Philippine contemporary art.
The Drawing Room
The Drawing Room began over 20 years ago as a space that celebrated the simplest of art forms: works on paper. But as the decades passed, the gallery expanded to include some of the greatest works in Philippine contemporary art. The Drawing Room highlights artists that represent the state of the country, focusing on the complex interplay of different realities that make up Philippine society. Besides monthly exhibitions in Manila, The Drawing Room also showcases its artists’ exhibitions in venues in Hong Kong, Taipei, Jakarta, New York, and Paris.
The Drawing Room can be found at GF Bldg. C., Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City. You can visit their Instagram for more details.
Established in 1975 by Silvana Ancellotti-Diaz, Galleria Duemila is the longest-running commercial art gallery in the country. Named after the Italian term for the 20th century, the gallery has handled prized works by modern artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. Among the names that have had their works showcased in Galleria Duemila’s hallowed halls are Fernando Amorsolo, H.R. Ocampo, Cesar Legazpi, Mars Galang, Ray Albano, and Joe Bautista. Visitors are immediately greeted by artwork as they enter the gallery space, as Galleria Duemila’s gate is designed by Australian artist Tony Twigg.
Tin-Aw Art Gallery
Tin-Aw Art Gallery was founded in 2008 and takes its name from a Filipino term for clear water. In its decade-long history, it’s become one of the best places in the country to check out what’s going on in the Philippine contemporary art scene. Tin-Aw offers exhibition spaces for solo and group exhibitions of both budding and established artists working in a variety of mediums. These artists range from local to international talent, and include Elmer Borlongan, Alfredo Esquillo, Emmanuel Garibay, and Tessy Pettyjohn. It also offers other venues for art appreciation, such as book clubs, discussion groups, and lectures.
Tin-Aw Art Gallery can be found at the Upper Ground Floor of Somerset Olympia Building, Makati Avenue cor. Sto. Tomas Street, Makati City. You can visit their Instagram for more details.
Kulayara Art Gallery
Located in the heart of San Juan City, Kulayara Art Gallery relaunched in 2016 under the aegis of businesswoman Suzette Ramirez Hernandez. The gallery has showcased the works of Hermes Alegre, Fil Delacruz, Gig de Pio, Ephraim Samson, and Helena Alegre. More than simply a gallery to display works, Kulayara also endeavors to spread art appreciation and education by hosting art classes, sketching sessions, talks, workshops, and seminars. The gallery, which started out as a way to house Ramirez Hernandez’s personal collection, also has partnerships with government, universities, and organizations in order to foster legacy through art.
Kulayara Gallery can be found on Roosevelt Street, Greenhills, San Juan City. You can visit their Facebook for more details.
Vinyl on Vinyl
While tradition is of course important, at its heart art is about pushing boundaries, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the field of pop art. If you’re looking for new spins on old topics, then head on over to Vinyl on Vinyl on Chino Roces Avenue, Makati. This gallery celebrates the diverse and the eclectic, putting together art, toys, and music into one dynamic space. The space has exhibited the works of some of the best in contemporary art in the Philippines, including Ronald Caringal, Isha Naguiat, and Lee Salvador.
Vinyl on Vinyl can be found at 2241 Pasillo 18, La Fuerza Compound 1, Chino Roces Ave., Makati City. You can visit their Instagram for more details.
The Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD)
If you want to take a look at the best of what contemporary art in the Philippines has to offer, head over to the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design in Malate. A not-for-profit institution that also serves as the external face of De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde, MCAD espouses a policy of free access for all. Established in 2008, it is both an international contemporary art museum and a gallery space, exhibiting the works of renowned artists as well as those of the institution’s own student body. Recognized for its curatorial and exhibition practices, it has exhibited the likes of Kaloy Olavides, Gary-Ross Pastrana, Martha Atienza, Tintin Wulia, and many more.
The Museum of Contemporary Art and Design at the GF, Benilde School of Design and Arts Campus, Dominga Street, Malate, Manila. You can visit their Instagram for more details.
Kayle Art Gallery
The challenge that many artists face today is one of accessibility— how does one bring art to the people, without the barriers that being in a gallery will entail? Kalye Art Gallery provides the answer to this. Unlike the clean, whitewashed halls of a traditional art gallery, Kalye brings art to the people in its simplest forms. A no-frills venue tucked away in the streets of Manila, its very existence is a form of protest against the elitism of art as an institution. It houses a wide variety of street and protest art from some of the country’s best artists, and visitors can also enjoy music performances and talks from local artists.
Kalye Art Gallery can be found at 1220 Estrada Street, Singalong, Manila. You can visit their Facebook for more details.
In the Philippines, contemporary art and artists are fully alive. Pineapple Lab is proof of this— an artist-run hub that aims to bring to the forefront Filipino art makers, international artists, and collaborators, it has been making waves in the Philippine art scene since its establishment. Moving beyond a simple venue for the visual, Pineapple Lab celebrates contemporary art in all its forms through performance, instruction, collaboration, and community. It’s also well known for highlighting LGBTQ+ art forms in the Philippines, with a diverse roster of activities highlighting queer art and artists in the country.
Pineapple Lab can be found on 6053 R. Palma, Makati City. You can visit their Instagram for more details.
Contemporary Philippine art isn’t only concentrated in the capital, and Qube Gallery in Cebu City especially aims to highlight the works of contemporary Philippine artists in the South. Cebu is known as the Design Capital of the Philippines, and it’s fertile ground for a variety of different artists, art institutions, communities, and spaces. Qube Gallery’s aim is to develop and promote local contemporary talent through exhibitions both here and abroad. It has exhibited artists like Joanna Vasquez Arong, Olivia d’Aboville, Russ Ligtas, and John Paul Antido, among many others.
Qube Gallery can be found at Crossroads, Gov. M. Cuenco Avenue, Cebu City. You can visit their Instagram for more details.
You can’t talk about contemporary art in the Philippines without talking about 1335MABINI. Established in 2013, it’s a multidisciplinary space for contemporary art that supports artistic growth and development through its artist-in-residency programs. 1335MABINI aims to explore the issues of mobility, history, critical engagement, collective memory, and politics by examining synergies and dissonances between Filipino and non-Filipino artists. The gallery represents many of the best artists in the country, including Poklong Anading, Cian Dayrit, Niki Luna, Jill Paz, and even artists from South Korea, Japan, and Austria.
1335MABINI can be found at C1B Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Don Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City. You can visit their Instagram for more details.
Established in 2004 by Tina Fernandez and a group of contemporary Filipino artists, Artinformal aims to bring art and the practice of art closer to the people through exhibitions and art education. The gallery space was established two years later in 2006, and promotes and features a diverse range of art forms, including pottery, painting, sculpture, and installations. Artinformal promotes Philippine artists and artistic development in the region, and has exhibited artists like Tosha Albor, Dan Barry, Nicole Tee, and others.
Artinformal Makati can be found at The Alley at Karrivin, 2316 Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City. Artinformal Greenhills can be found at 277 Connecticut Street, Greenhills East, Mandaluyong City. You can visit their Instagram for more details.
Founded in 2006, Blanc was initially three galleries before finally consolidating into one in Quezon City in 2013. It aims to give both emerging and established Filipino artists the space to experiment and develop their practice. Blanc has a critically-acclaimed exhibition program, and its participation in local and international art fairs has helped it develop a solid following. It also has a history of residency programs that have helped young, up-and-coming artists hone their craft. Among the names exhibited in Blanc are Andres Barrioquinto, Cocoy Lumbao, Isabel Santos, and Jaime Pacena II.
Blanc can be found at 145 Katipunan Avenue, St. Ignatius Village, Quezon City. You can visit their Instagram for more details.
Green Papaya Art Projects
The diversity of the Philippine contemporary art scene is such that each gallery will have its own individual approach to exhibiting artwork, and Green Papaya Art Projects is no different. Founded in 2000 by Norberto Roldan and Donna Miranda, it’s more of an artist-run initiative rather than a staid gallery space. Besides visual art, Green Papaya Art Projects also hosts a variety of events that support the art and music scene in the Philippines, including gigs and lectures and discussions. The gallery’s core values include intellectual exchange, sharing, dialogue, and creative and practical collaboration, so you’ll find a range of works from artists both in the Philippines and in the Asia Pacific.
Green Papaya Art Projects can be found on 41B T. Gener Street, Kamuning, Quezon City. You can visit their Instagram for more details.
Pablo and Post
Art is multifaceted, so it stands to reason that galleries should be too. Pablo Gallery and Post Gallery are a shining example of the range and unity found in contemporary art. Pablo Gallery was established in 2005, and focuses on both local and foreign contemporary art by fostering creative synergies and interactions between artists and the public. Post Gallery took over Pablo’s old space in Cubao X, Quezon City in 2013, and serves as an alternative art venue. It includes artist exhibits, music, and other interactive events on its roster. Together, these two galleries celebrate the variety of Philippine contemporary art and artists.
Pablo Gallery can be found at C-11 South of Market, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. Post Gallery can be found at Shop 7, Cubao Expo, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City. You can visit their Instagram for more details.
Altro Mondo Creative Space
The biggest contemporary art gallery in Metro Manila, Altro Mondo Creative Space is 300 square meters of some of the best contemporary art the country has to offer. Established in 2010, Altro Mondo has hosted both solo and group exhibitions from Filipino and international contemporary artists. It’s also moved beyond simple exhibitions and developed an artist-in-residency program in Bulacan to hone and develop the skills of young artists from the Bulacan State University. It aims to bridge the gap between contemporary art and potential audiences, and provide a platform for understanding how contemporary art reflects the complex social and cultural issues of modern society.
Altro Mondo Creative Space can be found at 1159 Don Chino Roces Avenue, San Antonio Village, Makati City. You can visit their Instagram for more details.
Finale Art File
Among the most well-established art galleries in the country, Finale Art File was founded in 1983 by its current executive director Evita Sarenas. Sarenas organized auctions for fine art in the late 1990s to early 2000s with the late Ramon Villegas, cementing Finale Art File’s place in the Philippine art scene. As a gallery, it’s showcased hundreds of exhibitions by the most talented names in the Philippine art scene. Finale also holds larger-scale exhibitions in local and international venues as part of its commitment to make art accessible to everyone. Counted among its artists are Annie Cabigting, Lyra Garcellano, and Paulo Vinluan.
Finale Art File can be found at Warehouse 17, La Fuerza Compound (Gate 1), 2241 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City. You can visit their Instagram for more details.
One of the hidden gems of the Metro’s art scene, Art Underground is another venue that celebrates the best of Philippine contemporary art. The gallery aims to challenge preconceived notions of what art is, exhibiting the best in art, literature, performance, film, and even fashion. By encouraging the development of contemporary art, Art Underground aims to create an art environment that is more open and accessible to audiences. Artists who have worked with this gallery include Ciron Señeres, Eufemio Rasco, Odang, and Catherine Salazar.
Art Underground can be found at 814 Balagtas Street, Barangay Addition Hills, Mandaluyong City. You can visit their Instagram for more details.
James Gonzales is a Filipino-American travel enthusiast and writer currently based in the Philippines. After living and working in New York for 10 years, James decided he wanted to see more of the world and leave the city behind. In the course of saving up for what would become an epic trip across Asia, he wrote about previous traveling experiences for various travel websites and publications based in the Lower East Side.
James focused on journeying through the Philippines in the hopes of understanding his roots, and began Daydreaming in Paradise to share his thoughts and experiences. He’s always looking for like-minded travelers to trade stories and swap tips with, and he hopes you’ll join him on his journey.