If science and technology are the backbone of society, then art is its heart. From the first time humans made stories out of the sky and painted their hunts onto cave walls, art has been an indelible part of our psyche. And while before the fine arts may have been the province of kings and queens, art is now more accessible than ever.
There are tons of museums across the country that hold some of the best of Philippine art, but the field is ever evolving. With new materials, new ideas, and new faces coming up all the time, it can be pretty hard to keep track of who’s who in the Philippine art world. Art Fair is another way to keep up with some of the best up-and-coming artists in the Philippines. And for first-timers, here’s what you can expect from one of the biggest art events in the country.
What is Art Fair?
First established in 2013, Art Fair Philippines is self-described as one of the best places for exhibiting and selling contemporary Philippine visual art. Managed by Philippine Art Events, Inc., the fair is now on its seventh year. It will run from February 22 to 24, 2019 at The Link in Makati City, and tickets are available for Php 350.
The problem of making the arts accessible in this country has always been a tricky one. Too often creative works are seen as “high brow,” and tucked away into galleries and museums. The average Filipino would be hard-pressed to name a visual artist living and working today. Similarly, artists in the Philippines are always struggling to find exhibition spaces that will bring their work closer to the public. Art Fair Philippines was born to address both sides of the coin, and so far it looks like it’s been a success.
Over the years, Art Fair Philippines has continued to expand its reach, bringing in more artists, galleries, curators, and enthusiasts year by year. The Inquirer reported a record of over 40,000 attendees in 2017 alone, and with the growing reach of the event it’s more than likely that that number has been surpassed over the years.
Who’s Showcased at Art Fair?
Previous years of Art Fair Philippines have brought in dozens, if not hundreds of well-known names in the art industry. Art Fair has always striven to put artists in the public space— sometimes literally in the middle of a shopping mall— and that central conceit has held true for all their years of exhibiting.
In 2013, Art Fair was already breaking past the boundaries set by previous public art events. According to GMA News, the first iteration of the fair included greats like Ronald Ventura, Gabby Barredo, Peewee Roldan, David Medalla, Agnes Arellano, and many, many more. They also encouraged participating galleries such as Finale Art File, Tin-Aw Gallery, and Drawing Room to treat their spaces not only as a place to sell art, but as actual exhibition spaces as well.
For 2018, the Philippine Primer reported that the fair had a total of 51 galleries present, including international galleries from countries like Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Singapore, among others. Furthermore, 2018’s fair took up all seven floors of The Link carpark. Participating artists included Lyra Garcellano with commissioned work Tropical Loop, collaborative installations between Kidlat Tahimik and Kidlat de Guia, Carlo Gabuco, Nilo Ilarde, and more.
What to Expect at Art Fair Philippines 2019?
This year’s Art Fair looks like it’ll be building upon the successes of previous years. As stated by the Philippine Tatler, there will be over 36 local galleries and 16 international galleries participating. In addition, the Fair will also continue encouraging discourse and discussion in the field by holding several talks, workshops, and guided museum tours.
One thing to anticipate this year is the photography exhibition, which was a huge hit when introduced in 2018. Called ArtFair/Photo, this year includes works by MM Yu, Jill Paz, 1335MABINI, Denise Weldon | Tom Epperson Photographs, LUZVIMINDA, Neal Oshima, and Silverlens.
Town and Country Magazine states that special installations will now be viewable on a single floor, instead of scattered across different ones like in previous years. This year brings together legends like David Medalla, with his incredible interactive work A Stitch in Time that was first introduced in 1968, and Ray Albano’s Step on the Sand and Make Footprints. You’ll also be able to see works of Mauro Malang Santos as curated by his son Soler Santos, Liv Vinluan’s Nung Gambalain Yung Sayawan, and art by renowned Colombian figurative artist and sculptor Fernando Botero.
This year will also include a digital art installation by renowned group teamLAB. Featured artists at this year’s fair also include Olivia d’Aboville, Ryan Villamael, Oca Villamael, MM Yu, Ian Fabro, and Christina Quisumbing Ramilo.
Moreover, art history enthusiasts will also get to listen to a talk by Kathy Galitz from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, an expert in late 18th century and 19th century French art. In addition, merch lovers will be pleased to know that Art Fair Philippines 2019 will once again have exclusive souvenirs and merchandise, designed by local clothing store Artwork.
As you can see, art in the Philippines is alive and thriving. Make sure you join in and explore the best of what the contemporary art scene has to offer!
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Jane Adamson is a Canadian import who moved to the Philippines three years ago for a change of pace. After working in the corporate world for ten years, she decided one day to pack up her things and head halfway across the world for a taste of living somewhere brand new.
She lived and worked in Bangkok and Ipoh for a few months as an English teacher, before eventually washing up on the shores of the Philippines. While she has a variety of different interests, Jane’s first loves have always been food and fashion, and she’s looking forward to sharing her thoughts on these on Daydreaming in Paradise.