Manila Art: Snippets from an Art Scene

The visual art scene in the Philippines is construed in a walled gallery, with a display of framed paintings and a sculpture or two. It is elitist in nature with its selective patrons, acquired inclination to aesthetic appreciation and limited audience reach. “It is not for everyone,” they would say.

Art collection may be for people who are fortunate enough to be on top of the social pyramid, but everyone can appreciate art, despite the differences present in interpretations. These differences were evident in Manila Art 2011, the country’s largest art fair.

Patrons flocked to the fair, ready to acquire the latest works of their favorite contemporary visual artists. The 24 art galleries and art institutions that participated were also eager to sell the works of their consigned artists. Although the logistical division of galleries made the fair look more like a bazaar, the dynamic array of paintings, installations and sculptures were enough to showcase the talents of both seasoned and emerging Filipino visual artists.

Alongside what the 24 participating galleries featured in their booths, art lectures were given in the fair and patrons were given the opportunity to win featured pieces in the event’s anticipated raffle draw. Art supplies were also sold in the fair and Ronac Art, an emerging art gallery and art retailer located along Ortigas, featured funky and out of this world art toys.

Standouts include Manila Contemporary’s exhibition of Leeroy New’s “Terrorium”.  Freestanding bases with phallic ornaments were hallowed and filled with small, multi-colored plastic toys and some, filled with pearls. It was lit from the inside and the hallowed area was enclosed in a transparent material to allow patrons to view the aligned toys.

Another standout was Pablo’s video exhibition of “Babel”, by Ivan Despi and Pauline Vicencio. Canvas, on the other hand, used iPads to showcase the works of Vim Nadera and Elmer Borlongan, Rizalpabeto, a hybrid display of a poem about Jose Rizal and letras. Letras Y Figuras is a 19th century art technique that stylizes the letters of the alphabet. Rizalpabeto was done to commemorate the 150th birth annversray of our national hero. Elmer Borlongan had other works featured in the fair, one of which is a painting, Batang Edsa.

The brass sculptures of Ferdinand and Michael Cacnio were also remarkable. Orlina’s glass sculptures were also showcased in the weekend art fair.

Manila Art 2011 was held at the NBC Tent last August 24 to 27. Artists, art connoisseurs, collectors, art critics, students and anyone who just wants to sample what contemporary Filipino visual artists have up their sleeves attended the fair. Who said art was only for the artsy?

Jessy Go

By Jessy Go

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