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ART FAIR Philippines opens its 10th iteration and its first hybrid edition today. It will run both online and on site until April 1.
Since its first year in 2013 until its last onsite show in 2020, the art fair had been held at a car park in the Ayala Center in Makati. With the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic lockdown, the fair went online. This year’s hybrid format will see art galleries exhibiting both physically in their own spaces, and online at the art fair website. The online exhibitions and other activities will be accessible at www.artfairphilippines.com.
There are also physical exhibitions at the three entrances to Makati’s Ayala Triangle Gardens — at Ayala Ave., Makati Ave., and Paseo De Roxas.
“When we started bouncing around ideas for the fair, the Philippines was at the height of the Delta variant surge [of COVID-19, in June to July 2021],” Art Fair Philippines Trickie Lopa said in an e-mail to BusinessWorld.
“We knew that our chance to do live, physical exhibitions rested on a venue that was open, largely outdoors, and spacious, but which was still accessible. I think we found the perfect spot,” she added.
No limitations were imposed on the use of the space as long as they complied with safety protocols and followed guidelines for construction.
THE ARTFAIRPH/PROJECTSThe highlight of the fair’s physical exhibit is the ArtFairPH/Projects section.
Art consultant Norman Crisologo and exhibition designer and theater director Ed Lacson are collaborating for a second time with what the former calls an “exploded gallery” at the Ayala Tower One Fountain Area. The space has been transformed into an outdoor gallery with lime-colored scaffoldings and bold-colored panels.
“You want to see the inside-out. You won’t want to see solid walls. The panels have a dialogue depending on where your standing, the combination of colors changes,” Mr. Lacson, the co-designer of the installation, told BusinessWorld at the vernissage on March 21.
“I was always designing out of economic reasons,” Mr. Lacson said, referring to what was “easiest, cheapest and impactful at the same time.”
“It should feel like a construction site but a more beautiful one where works are exhibited,” he said.
The exhibition area is also equipped with lighting to accommodate evening viewing. “Wait for it to get dark. It’s looks different when it is dark outside,” Mr. Lacson said.
For this year’s art fair, the paintings of one of the fair’s featured artists, Ryan Jara, focus on experiences related to the pandemic, with themes revolving around battles — for land, within ourselves (anxiety and depression), and hunger.
“These have been ongoing problems, but because of the pandemic, it worsened,” Mr. Jara wrote to BusinessWorld in a mix of English and Filipino. “I was affected and so I thought to express it in painting as my way of telling stories about the pandemic.”
Mr. Jara’s signature use of enlarged and distorted images began from a puzzle of a human he was finishing that got reshuffled. “That’s where my ideas on distortion started and why my works are the way they look today. It’s like a Picasso but with a realism approach,” he said.
Meanwhile, another of the fair’s featured artists, Melvin Guirhem (the 2022 recipient of the Karen H. Montinola Selection) has a series of works titled Entablado which presents life as a stage with each person playing characters that have a role in society.
He uses hand-sewn patchwork for his characters and paintings for his background. “After I layout the concept [for the artwork], I create a numbering scheme for the materials depending on the color and type of cloth to be used. I cut the patchwork, then stick them on with white glue, and then manually stitch them afterwards,” Mr. Guirhem said in English and Filipino.
The other featured artists in the ArtFairPH/Projects section are the late Arô Soriano, social realist Nune Alvarado, Bjorn Calleja, Johanna Helmuth, Doktor Karayom, Tyang Karyel, Aze Ong, and Wyndelle Remonde.
“While the works may not be overtly political, artists for the Projects section like Dokto Karayom, Tyang Karel, and Ryan Jara don’t shy away from confronting issues about what it’s like living in the Philippines today, with its dense cities and depressed economic opportunities,” fair organizer Ms. Lopa told BusinessWorld.
OTHER PHYSICAL EXHIBITSAside from the ArtFairPH/Projects section are works by the artists chosen for #ArtFairPH/Residencies: Derek Tumala for Manila Observatory, Hannah Nantes for the Linangan Art Residency, Jao San Pedro for Emerging Islands, Alwin Reamillo for Orange Project, and Faye Abantao for Butanding Barrio.
On the garden walkway along Paseo De Roxas is the ArtFairPH/Photo exhibition. Curated by Neal Oshima, Michael Salientes, Mark Nicdao, and Gio Panlilio, the photography exhibit is titled Tattoos, Ternos and Couture, A Celebration of Philippine Fashion Photography.
Meanwhile, appearing on screen at a public amphitheater is the work of New York-based new media artist Jeremy Couillard for The ArtFairPH/Film section. The showcase includes his new film There Is No Up Or Down, Only Attraction (2022) which explores curious creatures across galactic spaces, pixelated gaming maps, and streetscapes. Mr. Couillard’s Fuzz Spiral series — a collection of three films based on the artist’s recent video game Fuzz Dungeon (2021) — will also be featured.
For the first time, this year visitors can explore an interactive augmented reality (AR) Art Trail at the Ayala Triangle Gardens using the Daata AR app. The AR Art Trail features Leeroy New’s piece Aparisyon (Apparition) combining Mr. New’s sculptures from discarded plastic bottles and visualized elements from author Eliza Victoria’s fantasy short story, Let Me Hold Your Hand. A QR code to download the data app, posted on the AR Art Trail. The app is accessible to iPhone users.
Visiting hours to the Ayala Triangle exhibits are divided in three batches from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For tickets to the physical exhibits, visit https://tickets.artfairphilippines.com/. Tickets are priced at P150. For more information on this year’s program and schedule of activities, visit the Art Fair Philippines website at www.artfairphilippines.comand follow Art Fair Philippines on Instagram (@artfairph) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/artfairph). — Michelle Anne P. Soliman