Can’t get enough of Philippine art!
THE PEPPER MILL - Pepper Teehankee (The Philippine Star) - March 7, 2014 - 12:00am

Filipinos have delivered the coolest art fair in the region. Art Basel in Hong Kong may have the presence of the world’s biggest galleries and Art Stage Singapore’s visitors may marvel at its Marina Bay Sands locale. But where else will you have a country’s national team play several sets of ping-pong during the vernissage? 

Recently, almost 10,000 people toured two levels of The Link at Ayala Center in Makati for Art Fair Philippines 2014. The audience, that almost doubled the attendance from 2013, viewed artworks from 28 galleries. The fair’s organizers also commissioned seven special exhibits — solo outings by artists who have achieved critical and commercial success both in Philippines and abroad.

These special exhibits included works by National Artist Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera, who showed bronze  pieces of sculpture fabricated in Thailand and were based on the artist’s drawings. Auction superstar Ronald Ventura debuted large-scale fiberglass sculpture in an installation called, I wish it was a dream but it wasn’t. London-based Pio Abad took over an 11-meter wall for his wallpaper and framed silk scarves.

Event sponsor Swatch, which celebrated its 25th anniversary at the fair, presented solo outings from artists Rodel Tapaya, Marina Cruz, Jose John Santos III and Louie Cordero. Tapaya’s monumental paintings are narratives based on Filipino myths and legends while his wife, Marina, explored her recurrent themes of memory and childhood, this time through her experiences as an adoptive mother. Santos presented a hundred canvas bags stiffened with resin that served as a backdrop at the fair’s reception area. Meanwhile, Cordero garnered the most attention with his Pong On Earth 1 to 4 pieces where guests were able to play actual table tennis. Pieces from these solo outings were all sold out on opening night.

The Ayala Group of Companies, a big supporter of Art Fair Philippines, made it possible for the fair to expand to another floor, dubbed the Ayala Art Annex. There, Junie Rodriguez put together masterpieces from the Ayala Museum’s collection for that floor’s VIP Lounge. Also at the Annex was Christie’s Art Forum, the auction house that sponsored the fair’s lecture series. 

Swatch big boss Virgie Ramos unveiled the Swatch VIP booth with endorsers John Lloyd Cruz, who also tried his hand at ping-pong, and Broadway superstar Lea Salonga.

Bigboy Cheng’s SecretFresh booth was unique. It showcased Gene Paul Martin’s limited-edition toy called  Sleepwalker in a “garden” that featured live butterflies and a machine that emitted the scent of chocolate.

For those who are still on a high and in need of their art fix, event organizers Dindin Araneta, Trickie Lopa and Lisa Periquet happily announced that their next event, Art In The Park, the affordable art fair, will be on March 23, Sunday, at the Jaime Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village, Makati City. Art In the Park will have 58 galleries, art schools, collectives and independent art spaces occupy the whole park. Paintings, prints, photos, sculpture and new media pieces will be available, all for P30,000 or less. Don’t miss this!

Art Fair Philippines 2014 was co-presented by Ayala Corp., Ayala Land Premier, Alveo, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Globe and Swatch.  Major sponsors are Make It Happen, Make It Makati and Christie’s. Official partners are Raffles Makati, Philippine Airlines, Living Innovations, Epson, Kai and Straits Wine Company. Exhibition partners are the LV Locsin Partners, Kenneth Cobonpue and GBA Events Asia. Media partners are The Philippine Star, the Summit Group and Pipeline Asia.

(For more information on Art In The Park, visit or www.facebook/artinthepark.) Certain photos by Pepper Teehankee

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