By SARA GRACE C. FOJAS
Born in the country where Michaelangelo’s Pieta, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and The Last Supper, and The Sistine Chapel are easily within reach, it is no wonder that Laura Chiari, gallery director of the renowned Lorcan O’ Neill in Rome, loves art.
“I was born in Rome and when you’re born in Rome, you are exposed to a huge amount of art all the time and it makes it impossible not to really want to see and look at art in a certain way. When I was young, we would visit churches and museums, and my interest grew, from ancient art with the antique created by old masters then moved to contemporary art, which is also a different kind of work,” says Chiari.
Because of that interest, Chiari became a gallery director and co-owner and gained 12 years of experience in bringing some of the best European artists to Italy such as Richard Long, Anselm Kiefer, Tray Emin, Rachel Whiteread, and Martin Creed. Ever since she joined the gallery in 2004, she has overseen more than 60 exhibitions. The gallery also took part in major and international fairs around the world, such as Basel, Armory in New York, and Frieze in London.
“I’ve been a director from the very beginning and I’m also the co-owner of the gallery. The gallery has been existing for 15 years and we’ve grown a lot, not so much in number but in the quality of what we do, art fairs that we do, and exhibitions that we do,” she says.
Chiari recently gave a talk and visited the Art Fair Philippines last February upon the invitation of the Italian Embassy.
“Asia is such an interesting and expanding market that we wanted to know more of what goes on outside the traditional Basel Hong Kong Fair. I am both interested in experiencing the vibe of this fair and in having a closer look at the works of the Filipino artists. I found it very interesting because it is an example of an art fair that is focusing a lot on the very specific areas of the world like the galleries from the Philippines and galleries from Southeast Asia, which is something you don’t see. It’s a real value to be able to see something that you haven’t seen before and an art fair that doesn’t look like every other fair,” she says.
Chiari also shared that the location of the fair really captures the spirit of coming together and showing the works of Filipino artists from the different generations.
“I also saw galleries that show small objects that are very affordable, and I find it interesting because in the big international art fairs that we’ve gotten used to, you rarely see things that are accessible at first sight.I think fairs need to be different.
We don’t need to go anywhere in the world and find the same fair over and over with the same works and the same galleries. If your art fair is able to show and develop its own identity strongly, it will be much more valuable than to have one that looks exactly like the others,” she says.
Prior to joining the gallery, Chiari was also a contributing writer to professional journals on the legal aspects relevant to contemporary art and cultural heritage. Her academic focus (Università La Sapienza Rome and University College Dublin) has been on art history and international art law with an emphasis on copyright, international circu – lation of art works, public art commissions.
Founded in 2013, Art Fair Philippines has become the premier platform for exhibiting and selling modern and contemporary Philippine visual art. The fair sets the stage to highlight vibrant local art and help generate support for Filipino artists. The ultimate goal of the exhibition is to make art accessible to enthusiasts and to make the Philippines a more globally-recognized name in the art industry.