By Sara Grace C. Fojas •Video by Noel Pabalate • Images by Pinggot Zulueta
Forty-six galleries, four floors—the Link carpark at Ayala Center, Makati was transformed into an artist’s haven during the recent Art Fair Philippines 2017. People from all walks of life lined up on the streets of Makati just to have a moment—and photos—with the beautiful artworks of various Filipino contemporary artists and international artists from Indonesia, Spain, Singapore, China, and Taiwan.
Art was definitely much closer to people during those four days, and it was an overwhelming experience to step into that parking lot and see the wonderful creations you might have yourself imagined. Being there was the best part of it and here are the reasons why:
The Artworks We Saw
The art fair was not just about paintings and sculptures. It covered all bases—from paintings to mixed media, from LED animations to even sounds. Art has surely evolved and in this year’s art fair you might have a glimpse of how it happened. The exhibition walked us through the sounds of WSK, an artist group that installed individual listening pods where visitors were able to listen to decades worth of sound art in the Philippines. We were transported back to our childhood when we saw Karayom by Balat Halimaw that resembled two creatures playing the popular “Nanay Tatay” jingle. And it made our blood run cold when we saw the 14 electric chairs of Jose Tence Ruiz, each of which dared us to take a seat and experience the horror and the torture.
The Masters We Met
Rarely do you have the opportunity to get up close and personal with masters like National Artist Benedicto Cabrera, Betsy Westendorp, Jose Tence Ruiz, Ramon Orlina, and more. The art fair not only allowed us to appreciate firsthand their original artworks but it also gave us a chance to talk to them. Some of us were given precious advice, as well as the story behind their pieces, replete with anecdotes. For the ticket price of R250, R50 for students, and free for Makati students, this show was such a steal!
The Modern Artists We Discovered
During the four-day event, there were 10 interactive installations spread around the venue. Featured artists for this year were Agnes Arellano’s goddess-like nude female figures; Elmer Borlongan, Emmanual Garibay, and Mark Justiniani’s murals were meant to be instruments of change; Patricia Perez Eustaquio’s tapestries that formed mountainous landscapes or mythical sceneries; and Maria Jeona Zoleta’s colorful paintings that stood “for both birth and decay in the non-linearity and obscurity of her fears and dreams.” All of these magnificent art pieces were displayed at the booth of the Bench Presents Gallery. Over at the Karen H. Montinola selection, on the other hand, were Mark Valenzuela’s ceramic figures that fought for gender equality.
While we enjoyed what seemed like countless exhibits on all levels of the parking lot, at the roof deck were special talks by different personalities like former contemporary art chief correspondent of The Economist and author of several art bestsellers Sarah Thorntorn in the Dr. Sarah Thornton in Conversation with Alexandra A. Seno; Focus on Photography from Ran Xu of XuArtspace, Barbara Staubli of JB, and Neal Oshima; and a talk from the director of Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona Ferran Barenblit. There was also an Artists’ Talk with James Nares, Agnes Arellano, and Jose Tence Ruiz; Publishing Art Books by Ringo Bunoan and Eva McGovern; and Curating Across Asia by Tobias Berger, Ute Meta Bauer, and Diana Campbell Betancourt.
Prof. Ambeth R. Ocampo talked about Arturo Luz while Elmer Borlongan, Emmanuel Garibay, and Mark Justiniani spoke about Collective Practice. Finally, Tony Godfrey discussed Masterpieces in Contemporary Art; Art in the Community with Leslie de Chavez, Marika Constantino, and Julia Nebrija; Focus on Visayas with Rock Drilon; and Philippine Art and Biennales with Joselina Cruz and Joyce Toh.
www.artfairphilippines.com; Facebook/artfairph; Twitter and Instagram @artfairph