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Art Fair Philippines 2024: A display of best contemporary visual arts

by Joshua Gerona

Art is nothing if not perceived by the public. 

MAGICAL seems to be an understatement to describe the recently held Art Fair Philippines 2024 last February 16 to 18 at The Link car park in Makati. 

Photo courtesy: Art Fair Philippines | Facebook

With five floors full of impressive and one-of-a-kind art pieces, the annual art fair featured the best modern and contemporary visual arts from esteemed and emerging artists in the Philippines. 

The event was also joined by premier exhibitors from Japan, Malaysia, Romania, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and even the Metaverse, among others. 

Art Fair Philippines is a platform for featuring and selling top visual art pieces and generating support from Filipino art practitioners. The event is divided into different sections, including the Projects, Residencies, Photo, Film, and Talks sections. 

For its 11th installation since its foundation in 2013, here are some of the event highlights at the Art Fair Philippines 2024: 

Filipino artists at the prestigious fair 

Attended by a total of 55 exhibitors and more than a hundred artists, this year’s art fair is indeed a gathering of talented people across the world. Some of them are upcoming and highly-regarded visual artists in the Philippines. 

Included in the event are some of the works of National Artist Benedicto Cabrera (BenCab), Ramon Orlina, and Fernando Zobel

The Sinuous Architecture and Evocative Forms exhibition organized by Art Cube features the new works of Orlina as a prominent glass sculptor to mark his 80th birth anniversary. 

The glass pieces showcase themes of graceful nudity and mother-and-child bond, highlighting Orlina’s talent in striking a balance between straight lines and graceful curves in the art of glass sculpture. 

Some abstract artworks from Zobel and nature-themed paintings from BenCab were also displayed at the event. 

Meanwhile, Art Underground exhibits work from two emerging Filipino artists SAIS and Arce

Fête Nocturne presents SAIS’ exemplary talent in charcoal and graphite arts inspired by surreal contexts. He is a graduate of fine arts degree from the Technological University of the Philippines-Manila and is currently residing in Cavite. 

Arce, on the other hand, flaunts his mastery of experimental arts with 100, an intersection of abstraction and sculptural intricacies, showing the concept of “offering a hundred percent of oneself to every endeavor.” Arce is a fine arts graduate of the University of Santo Tomas. 

Tuklas, a mentorship program with Eskinita Art Gallery’s founder and director Alfredo Esquillo, also displayed two murals at the art fair. 

Tablado, created by a group of artists called Tuklas Norte and facilitated by Esquillo, depicts the Philippine political scene as absurd and farcical. 

Photo courtesy: Art Fair Philippines | Instagram

Tuklas Norte is composed of Anne Lacaba, Ben Albino, Lymuel Bautista, Jayme Lucas, Marvin Quizon, Lawrence Cervantes, Steven Natal, Kinoo Padlan, and Frenk Sison. 

Butterfly Effect, a mural creation by artist group Tuklas Sentro facilitated by Renato Habulan, talks about the “emblematic rendering of Filipino culture and values.” 

Photo courtesy: Art Fair Philippines | Instagram

Tuklas Sentro is composed of Ianna Engaño, Carlo de Laza, Joen Sudlon, Mark Laza, Orland Espinosa, Anne Lacaba, Ben Albino, Lymuel Bautista, Jayme Lucas, Joshua Limon Palisoc, Bry Barrios, Marvin Quizon, and Alfredo Esquillo. 

Karen H. Montinola 10th Anniversary

A premier annual selection grant for young and upcoming artists in the country, Karen H. Montinola Selection was also present at the event to celebrate its 10th anniversary. 

Photo courtesy: Art Fair Philippines | Facebook

To celebrate this milestone, a retrospective exhibit featuring the works of previous and current KMH recipients since its inception in 2014 was made available. 

This includes works from Pio Abad (2014), Mike Adrao (2015), Mac Valdezco (2016), Mark Valenzuela (2017), Alvin Zafra (2018), Liv Vinluan (2019), Carlo Villafuerte (2021), Melvin Guirhem (2022), Faye Abantao (2023), and Gean Brix Garcia (2024). 

The exhibition was curated by Norman Crisologo. 

Women in art 

The international and local art scene has been historically dominated by well-known male artists, such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Fernando Amorsolo, to the point that works from women artists have been sidelined to a certain extent. 

This year’s Art Fair Philippines is one way to provide avenues and opportunities for women artists to showcase their exceptional talents and unique takes on art. 

Pambabae: Exploring Abstraction, for instance, is a special exhibit in the fair that presents the development of abstract art through the works of female artists from 1969 to 1989, a period of flourishing of the arts due to historical and radical changes in the global and local arena. 

Photo courtesy: Art Fair Philippines | Facebook

The exhibition explores the female consciousness and the significant contributions of women in redefining the art scene. It is also a protest against the subtle discrimination and gender stereotypes women are facing in society. 

The exhibition highlights the works of twelve artists, including Cipra Kamatoy, Evelyn Collantes, Ileana Lee, Impy Pilapil, Ivi Cosio, Jeannie Javellosa, Lilian Hwang, Nelfa Querubin, Nena Saguil, Pacita Abad, Phyllis Zaballero, and Yola Johnson. 

The exhibition was curated by Miguel Rosales. 

Cebu’s premier Qube Gallery also presented an all-women lineup exhibition entitled Familiar Echoes at the event, featuring the works of four women artists: Amanda LuYm, Jewelle Yeung, Janine Barrera, and Golda King. 

The exhibition delves into themes of various landscapes depicted through the eyes of a woman. 

Talks and films 

Aside from art exhibitions, the three-day event also launched various talks and performances. 

The talks cover various themes, such as the connection of arts and science, archival photography, art preservation, expansion of creative spaces, and women’s contribution to the art scene. 

Filipino art historian Ambeth Ocampo graced the event with his discussion of archival photographs and how they were utilized by artists as a form of medium and context. 

Moira Lang’s film No Showing was also available for public showing on the seventh floor of the venue during the entire duration of the event. 

Books and beverages

Of course, the magical experience of walking around various art pieces would not be complete without sipping a cup of coffee or eating delicious pastries. 

Various coffee booths were placed on different floors of the venue so visitors could sip coffee while enjoying the beautiful paintings and sculptures. The coffee prices start at as low as 100 pesos. 

Food booths were also present, offering various French pastries and Filipino breads, a perfect match for a cup of coffee. 

Visitors can also buy books, t-shirts, shoes, and tote bags from different known local brands at a reasonable price. 

Indeed, arts are perfect when matched with coffee and books. 

Art fair experience and outfits

Attending a big event such as the Art Fair Philippines is indeed an experience that is worth remembering for life. This is true for two first-timer attendees, Angelica Goles and Shalomar Binamira. 

Photo courtesy: Angelica Goles

Both an art teacher at the De La Salle Santiago Zobel School, Angelica and Shalomar were invited by their coordinator to attend the event to better understand different art perspectives and discover more about art forms. 

For Shalomar, her first experience attending a big art fair event was one of a kind. 

“I could not compare this exhibit to what I have seen already in museums or small art galleries. I really got to enjoy seeing all the innovative artworks displayed,” Shalomar shared. 

The same was also true for Angelica as the event helped her to satisfy her curiosity for the arts. It was the digital art by David Gryn that really piqued her interest and enjoyed it the most. 

When asked about the importance of attending the event, the two emphasized how the event may help the younger generation to appreciate and understand arts better and get a sense of pride by simply seeing creative pieces from young Filipino artists. 

It is also a great opportunity for Gen Zs to experience arts in real life more than seeing them online. 

And since arts are often equated with aesthetics, some visitors attended the Art Fair Philippines wearing their most artsy outfits. 

Some wore cute bright cardigans paired with baggy jeans and black leather shoes, while others wore an all-black outfit, exuding an emo-rock vibe. 

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