By Angelo G. Garcia
Classroom by Artist Tromarama
KID 3 by Ashley Bickerton
I Want to Live A Thousand More Years (Self-portrait after dengue, with tropical plants and fake flowers) by Wawi Navarroza
Alphass’ Grit by Egg Fiasco
Underground Gallery by Beejay Esber
Syria by Charlie Co
Jose Tence Ruiz
Elmer Borlongan, Emmanuel Garibay, and Mark Justiniani
Now on its fifth year, Art Fair Philippines will set another record in its young history. Since it started in 2013 with 24 galleries and welcoming 6,000 visitors, the numbers have jumped significantly after holding its most successful fair yet in 2016. Last year recorded more than 22,000 visitors, who all enjoyed the beautiful artworks of various Filipino contemporary artists presented by more than 30 of Metro Manila’s best galleries.
This year, the fair, which will be held form Feb. 16 to 19, will play host to 46 local and international galleries. Twelve galleries will be coming from abroad including Indonesia, Spain, Singapore, China, and Taiwan. Located at The Link carpark at Ayala Center Makati, it has expanded its space from covering three floors to four floors this year, including the roof deck.
“This fifth edition tripled the numbers since we started five years ago. And we are now at four levels and we are now hoping to get over 22,000 visitors this year,” says Ayala Land AVP Cathy Bengzon. “We attribute this success to the shared vision of bringing the best of contemporary Filipino art closer to the people. I think also to a stronger appreciation of art by our audience. We will not be really successful if we do not have the support of the art enthusiasts and the students.”
Art Fair Philippines 2017 will bring more activities even before the fair starts. The 10 Days of Art that will start on Feb. 9 is a series of events around Makati that will involve museums, art galleries, bars, restaurants, and retail establishments. This will include exhibition openings, art installations, among others. One of the anticipated public art presentation is the showing of Street (2012), an art video of British artist James Nares. The film, which has been shown at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, will be shown at a specially made video screen at Ayala Triangle Gardens starting Feb. 14. It will be the Asian premiere of the film. There will also be several events including the 10 Days of Art Live by Busker Performances, which will be held from Feb. 13 to 19, on Makati streets, underpasses, and walkways. Ayala Museum will also open the exhibition titled “Altarpiece” by Thai artist Natee Utrait. Ayala Triangle Gardens will be the venue of “Silent Disco” on Feb. 18.
There will also be special exhibitions during the Art Fair Philippines proper including 10 interactive installations spread around the venue. Some of the featured Filipino artists this year include Agnes Arellano, Dex Fernadez, Elmer Borlongan, Emmanuel Garibay, Mark Justiniani, Maria Jeona Zoleta, Mark Valenzuela, and Particia Perez Eustaquio. But a special installation by Jose Tence Ruiz, one of the artists who represented the Philippines at the Venice Biennale 2015, will take center stage with a socio-realist commentary on the country’s current political issues.
The fair will feature special talks by different personalities in the art community including Dr. Sarah Thornton, former contemporary art chief correspondent of The Economist and author of several art world bestsellers like Seven Days in the Art World and 33 Artists in 3 Acts. There will be the Art Fair PH/Tours in partnership with Ateneo Art Gallery and Museum Foundation of the Philippines. For a fee, visitors can get a guided tours of the relevant museums around Metro Manila. On loan from Julius Baer art collection is the video Telephones by award-winning Swiss-American artist Christian Marclay.
Since its founding, all efforts of Art Fair Philippines to change the art landscape in the Philippines have paid off. The fair has become a venue of local and foreign art enthusiasts to get a sampling of the country’s contemporary art scene.
“Just from my observations, not only that there are more galleries, you could see who people who come to the fair follow up their interest in art by visiting the galleries, wanting to know the artist on their own, wanting to know more what works are being done. The audience of the gallery has widened. It shows that the art scene is developing and has become even more vibrant. There’s an art ecosystem that is sort of being set up already,” says Art Fair Philippines co-founder Trickie Lopa.