Arts and Culture

‘Art should have a place in our national psyche’

SUBLIMINAL - Carlomar Arcangel Daoana - The Philippine Star

The Herculean task of turning the idea of Art Fair Philippines into an annual showcase of the best in contemporary art rests on the shoulders of Dindin Araneta, Trickie Lopa and Lisa Ongpin-Periquet, three women who have committed their lives to the promotion of and the broadening of the market for homegrown art.

For the third installation of the fair, the trio had prepared eight months in advance, coordinating with galleries, tapping artists for the various exhibitions and meeting with sponsors, suppliers and those who subscribe to their vision of “art for all.”

The dream to have a local art fair that could stand side by side with the world’s best was planted, as it were, when Trickie and Lisa organized Art in the Park, an annual outdoor exhibition of affordable art held at Salcedo Park. “There’s a lot of awareness generated by it,” Lisa says. “We are already on our ninth year this year.”

Along with Dindin, Trickie and Lisa decided to channel the enthusiasm of the audience into another venture that would eventually become Art Fair Philippines, whose initial outing in 2013 attracted 6,000 people. “The idea was timely because there was an interest for the local galleries to do something new,” Dindin says. “The audience was also ready for a platform that was different from Art in the Park.”

Lisa describes the fair as a “once-a-year opportunity to view a lot of art in one venue” and advises, for both first-time and repeat visitors, “to see everything, maybe over several days, and take the opportunity to learn more about art and the artists, and the galleries.”

Every year, the ladies work with Kenneth Cobonpue in “crafting the space” and making sure that the fair maintains a laid-back atmosphere and accessible reach, similar to that of Frieze Art Fair in London, which is held in a mammoth tent temporarily situated at Regent Park every November. “The vibe of Frieze is the same as what we have here,” says Trickie. “It’s very energetic, very alive. In fact, it’s more casual than the other Asian art fairs.”

What contributes to this casual atmosphere is, no doubt, the venue itself: The Link, located at the Ayala Center in Makati City, which is a carpark. In contrast to Art in the Park, some people would whimsically refer to Art Fair Philippines as “Art in the Carpark.”

Centrally located, the venue proves to be a magnet not just for collectors and art aficionados (some of whom happen to live in nearby glittering residential columns) but for young professionals, students and “whoever just wants to walk in at the end of the day,” says Lisa.

While no doubt the major goal of any art fair is to generate sales, Trickie says that they are duty-bound to bring Art Fair Philippines to as many people as they can, wishing to beat the previous year’s record of 10,000 attendees. After all, their motivation in organizing it stems from the belief that “art should have a place in our national psyche. Art shouldn’t be remote. Our own art scene is very dynamic, full of raw energy, worth exploring.”

The bigger picture, says Dindin, is to contribute to the Philippines’ economic and cultural growth through the agency of art. “In major cities around the world,” she says, “art fairs contribute to the creative and tourism economies by attracting thousands of visitors. Perhaps one day, but only with continuous support from the visual arts community and art fair partners, we could help the country.”











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