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Art Fair Philippines: An affair with the audience

Lisa Ongpin-Periquet, Dindin Araneta and Trickie Lopa head the Art Fair Philippines organizing committee. PHOTOS BY ALFREDO GLORIA

It used to be that a romance with the arts involved visiting museums and galleries and following the works of your favorite artists for years on end. Now it can be had in a matter of hours — a flirtation, really — by visiting an art fair. While this route may seem promiscuous, what with the orgy of exhibitions that you will get to see in a single day’s romp, and problematic to some (they can’t get over its overt commercial aspect), it has become one of the best ways to experience—and have a sweeping glimpse of — the art of the now.

Such is the promise of the third installment of Art Fair Philippines, undeniably the country’s premier showcase of modern and contemporary art, which is slated from Feb. 5 to 8 in its official home at The Link, the carpark of Ayala Center in Makati City. Last year, around 10,000 people trooped to the venue and got to admire the works of BenCab, play ping-pong on the tables of Louie Cordero, and encounter the installation art of Ronald Ventura. They also had passing acquaintance with galleries and their respective rosters of artists that they would not have otherwise known outside this platform.

Philippine Art Events, the fair’s organizer which is also behind the popular Art in the Park, hopes to surpass last year’s success and number of attendees by expanding its portfolio of participating galleries, boosting its special exhibitions and art talks, and “crafting the space” to comfortably accommodate guests in its four-day run. “The most important component for us is that we increase our audience each year as we go forward,” says Lisa Ongpin-Periquet, the art fair’s co-founder, along with Trickie Lopa and Dindin Araneta. “We don’t want it to make a fair just for the collectors.”

 

 

While collectors may seem to be the primary market of any art affair, spectating guests can avail for themselves the experience of taking in the artworks individually and collectively and finding those that resonate with their sensibilities. Last year, the fair welcomed a wide variety of guests that included a teacher from an international school who brought his entire class, young professionals, first-time art buyers who still needed to master the art of negotiating (it’s not a crime to ask for a discount), expatriates, and certainly art students who will comprise the next wave of visual artists.

As regards to the galleries, “Everyone wants to be back,” says Trickie. Their participation proved to be a good investment as “they really had good sales last year.” For this edition, there are 33 participating exhibitors, seven of which are from overseas. From seasoned veterans Finale Art Fair and Galeria Duemila, to curatorial stalwarts Art Informal and Silverlens, to the innovative upstarts Secret Fresh and Vinyl on Vinyl, the list of local galleries includes 1335 Mabini, Altromondo, Archivo, Art Cube, Artesan, Art Verite, Avellana Art Gallery, Blanc, Boston Gallery, CANVAS, Crucible, J Studio, MO_, Nova Gallery, Pablo, Paseo Gallery, Salcedo Private View, The Drawing Room, Tin-Aw Art Gallery, and West Gallery.

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Trickie said that it was important for the fair to establish its local identity at the onset and use this homegrown familiarity “as a way of introducing the audience here to artists from abroad.” On its third year, the fair will present galleries based in Singapore, Hong Kong, Jakarta, and Taipei. They are: Arndt, Edouard Malingue Gallery, Equator Art Projects, Galerie Michael Janssen, Nunu Fine Art, ROH Projects, and TAKSU. With the presence of an eclectic mix of players, gallery owners feel encouraged to prepare in advance and “realize that they have to keep getting better every year.”

One of the highlights of Art Fair Philippines is the participation of Roberto Feleo, “a low-key but influential artist” who will present, on the sixth floor of The Link, life-sized pieces exploring and delving into a pivotal point of Philippine history, the Basi Revolt. “If you see his work, you will see how he has exerted a lot of influence on artists, such as Rodel Tapaya, Kawayan de Guia, Leeroy New, and Leslie de Chavez,” says Trickie.

On the seventh floor will be the must-see individual exhibitions of Poklong Anading, Annie Cabigting, Buen Calubayan, Mariano Ching and Yasmin Sison, Kawayan de Guia, Alfredo Esquillo Jr., Geraldine Javier, and Maria Taniguchi. In consultation with Dr. Patrick Flores, curator of the Philippine pavilion to the 56 Venice Biennale, these shows will put a spotlight on the current media, practices, and themes by some of the most talented Filipino artists working today.

Dindin says that these artists were chosen based on their track record, whether they had already “worked with reputable institutions, had tie-ups with museum exhibitions, or got invited by foreign curators.” The international auction powerhouse Christie’s will feature some of these artists, along with other speakers, in a series of lectures dubbed “Christie’s Art Forum.”

While the fair will last only for less than a week, the organizers assure that they are in this for the long haul, a statement supported by their track record with Art in the Park which is already in its ninth year this year. For Lisa, she sees a “raising of the bar for everybody to meet not only in terms of the art but the way the galleries conduct their business.” For Dindin, it’s all about having “something different every year with the special exhibitions and galleries.” As for Trickie, the art fair is a point of transference of their love for the arts to the audience, “that’s why it’s important for us to work with galleries that understand what we are trying to do.”

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The Philippine STAR, Summit Media, and Pipeline are the media partners of the 2015 Art Fair Philippines.

For information, visit www.artfairphilippines.com and www.facebook.com/artfairph, email secretariat@artfairphilippines.com or irene@artfairphilippines.com, or call (632) 831-0953.

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