Art Fair Philippines’ is Triumphant in Its Return As a Must – see For Philippine and Southeast Asian Contemporary Art

by | Feb 20, 2023

The return of the most exciting contemporary art curation in Southeast Asia – Art Fair Philippines made its mark as a triumphant success after a lull of 3 years due to the Covid- 19 restrictions that closed off events.  But all of that changed the moment its trio of powerhouse founders – Geraldine ‘Dindin’ Araneta, Lisa Ongpin-Periquet and Trickie Lopa held this year’s fair – which ran from February 17 – 19 at its designated home, The Link carpark – a multi-level building that was transformed into an art lover’s haven for its 2023 edition.

Art Fair Philippines celebrated ten years of expanding the Philippine audience for contemporary art by welcoming 64 exhibitors from the Philippines and numerous international names into the fold, making this one of their most ambitious projects as of late.

According to its organizers, the fair was designed to be biophilic for its fairgoers – “It’s to give people a refreshed experience of Art Fair by being organic while also enhancing the spirit of discovery and surprise.”

Zobel Joya

Leon Gallery, Zobel | Joya

Technology, such as NFTs, nostalgia, and interactive art were the highlights of this year’s fair as the most prominent galleries in the Philippines, such as Silver Lens, León Gallery, Boston Art Gallery, Pinto Art Museum, and other notable exhibitioners showcased a series of magnificent art, ranging from photographs, mixed media, sculptures, photographs, and paintings.

Filipino woman

Rosario Bitanga ‘ Past, Present, and Participant’

The air of nostalgia had a significant presence throughout the exhibit. The illustrious works of abstract painter Rosario Bitanga made for a picturesque and eye-grabbing scene with her portraits of Filipino women and men, cheekily smiling or smiling wistfully looking away from its onlookers against a rosy pink backdrop. Her exhibit, Past, Present, and Participant, sought to give people an overall look at her work, which now spans seven decades.

FLower in frame

Hideo Tanaka | Aileen Lanuza ‘ Absence of Abundance | Excess of Existence

For the Orange Project, a group that focuses on the craft of Bacolod-based emerging artists located in the Central Region of Visayas. Sentimentality had another meaning altogether. The exhibit’s concept “ Ato Bala”, aka “you know” in the local Waray dialect, brought to life the shared memories of life. According to Curator Moreen Austria, “ I asked the artists to recall a particular memory through their work that stayed with them for a while, despite the changes that happen on a daily basis. culture will always be there, and that is why I wanted to see what they ( the artists) could develop to showcase how contemporary art is now.”

sculpture

El Tonero, Carlos – Galeria Paloma

AI and crypto art made a striking appearance at the fair with Galeria Paloma’s maiden exhibit – ‘p a r a / / e l’, which explores the counterparts between physical and digital/new media art. the group’s ‘phygital’ exhibit was displayed simultaneously with NINFA Labs in Milan, Italy – their concept approached digital art simply as a medium, without the idealism of cryptocurrency.

Frida Kahlo Mark Lester Espina

Mark Lester Espina

Another underlying theme in the fair was the air of tongue-in-cheek societal commentary, as each artist demonstrated a unique take on the pop-culture norms of Filipino and global culture. For instance, Demetrio ‘Demet’ Dela Cruz of the Boston Art Gallery utilized his mastery over mixed-media by creating his work, inspired by the struggle of good and evil with Catholicism by bringing together his viewers on the metaphorical symbolism of battle and celebration with a bottle – of alcohol, nonetheless. “Everyone always comes together after war or joy with a drink. One of his works, called ‘ I Thirst’, was an installation of Jesus Christ without hands, which depicted how much the celestial has given so much for humankind, only to be given less in return.

Jesus Christ

I Thirst by Demet Cruz, Boston Art Gallery

One more series that caught plenty of people’s attention was the work of Singaporean artist Jane Lee of the Sudaram Tagore Gallery – used the power of illusion ( in art terms, trompe l’oeil)  to have you further ponder her perfect renditions of the Mona Lisa and Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring from all angles, the analysis is definitely up to eyes of its viewer.

Apart from the glittering assembly of different artwork, notable brands set up shop on the exhibition floors – Lifestyle Store Guava Sketches bought their trademark Scandinavian – Asian flair to the fray with an interesting set of clothes from fashion designer, Geof Gonzales and accessories from their artisans.

Brocade Dress Guava Sketches

Geoff Gonzales | Guava Sketches

Art Fair Philippines is a yearly event that occurs every February at The Link –

To know the latest updates on Art Fair Philippines Follow their  Facebook and Instagram pages for more details.

Editor-in-Chief: Derek Warburton | Written by: Cyan Leigh Dacasin, Managing Editor | Photos: Daniel Gabriel

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