Art Fair Philippines was held in the Link Carpark last February 16–19. Art Fair Philippines was founded in 2013, and this year 2017 is their fifth year. It showcases the best in Philippine modern and contemporary art. Its goal is to reflect the local art scene and continue to gain support from Filipino artists. This art fair is very accessible to art enthusiasts since it was held in an alternative urban venue.

This year, 34 of the Philippines’ leading galleries participate and are joined by a roster of 12 galleries from Spain, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

I went to the Art Fair on its second day, February 17, Friday. The moment I stepped out of the car, I saw a lot of people rushing to the location of the art fair. The location was in a carpark turned into an alternative “museum.” If you are an art enthusiasts, then Art Fair Philippines is for you.

There are around 40 exhibitors/ private galleries that showcased their collections. I chose three private galleries.

Art Verite presents Fourth Dimension by Ramon Orlina.

This is the first gallery I visited in the entire Art Fair. I was hooked by the four-dimensional sculptures. I really liked how Orlina used glass cullets or crystal blocks. This gallery is different from other galleries, because it offered a sophisticated vibe. I felt at peace when I was appreciating his works.

This sculpture represents the body of a woman. A piece of art that gives women like me, confidence about our body. It also instills in my mind that no matter what size or shape your body is; it is still a masterpiece. Orlina’s sculpture can be interpreted in many ways.

A translucent and transparent sculpture by Orlina. I saw an infinity in this sculpture. For me, it showed that no matter how hard life is; we still have days to live, to enjoy, and to appreciate. To live in a beautiful world, to enjoy the things He gives us, and to appreciate His blessings and the beauty of art.

In this blue-colored glass sculpture, I can see an iceberg. An iceberg which is very strong. If I were the artist, my inspiration in making this piece was the Titanic. An iceberg killed thousand of lives, but we should remember that once the sun shined, the iceberg will be just a water. It simply means that no matter how hard our problems are, we should courageously face them, since sooner these problems won’t really matter.

Salcedo Private View and Spektacularis presents Metamorphosis by Gabriel Lichauco, Liliana Manahan, Stanley Ruiz, and Jiri Pacinek.

This gallery also caught my eye. It is a collection of studio glass objects that pushes the boundaries of traditional glassmaking techniques. The Filipino artists also immersed themeselves in Czech glass studious, working closely with glass artist Jiri Pacinek, stained glass specialist Josef Hlavenka, and lighting specialist Filip Houdek to produce a series of functional art, sculptural objects, and wall installations. This gallery was unique among other Philippine art spaces, since the art pieces were showcased by Filipino and foreign artist.

The collaboration of Filipino contemporary aesthetic and Czech expertise in glassamaking shows a unique approach to the art of studio glass. It also gives a recognizable, distinctive, and alluring expression of light and thought. Looking at their work gives warm to the eye and heart. I am fond of looking at glass pieces, since it gives a homey and refreshing feeling.

Lindava III by Gabriel Lichauco and Jiri Pacinek

2016, Hotsculpted glass
54 x 37 x 50 cm (21 x 14.5 x 19.5 in)

Lindava III in my perspective symbolizes mothers. As you can see, in the base of the art piece, there is something that holds the legs. I can see a fingers wrapped around the legs; those fingers symbolizes the children of the mother. Above the fingers are seem to be rock. On the other hand, these rocks symbolizes the responsibilites of a mother. And, above is like a lamp that gives light to the house and the children. Overall, I can say that Lindava III pictures a mother who tries to do her best in taking care of her family and giving light and guide to her children.

Astro Bling by Gabriel Lichauco, Filip Houdek, and Josef Hlavenka
2017, Stained glass, metal, light
181 x 90 cm (71 x 35.5 in)

Metamorphosis can be defined as the change or transformation in appearance. In this gallery, I consider Astro Bling as the epitome of metamorphosis, because it showed a change in the art. For me the deeper meaning in this art piece is that change is constant, and with every change, our life becomes more meaningful and colorful. Astro Bling transformed twice; the pieces also change its hues. These colors symbolizes our current situation — it could be bright, or maybe dark. We, ourselves, undergo metamorphosis. We change, and we change for the better.

Precious by Liliana Manahan and Jiri Pacinek

2016, Handblown glass, hotsculpted glass
35 x 34 x 41cm (14 x 13 x 16 in)

We humans usually see beauty in the physical appearance, but I firmly believe that true beauty is in the inside, just like in this art piece. In this sculpture, you can see that the outside apple-like vase is transparent, and inside it was different colored marble like-sculptures. I find it very beautiful, since it gives color to the bland vase. This art piece showcases that beauty can also be found inside, and that is valuable. Inner beauty is PRECIOUS.

Vinyl on Vinyl

Vinyl on Vinyl is the my favorite gallery! This gallery is so me. I love the artworks here, very girly and artsy. This gallery is my life. I really loved it! Anyway, Vinyl on Vinyl is an eclectic venue merging art, designer toys, and music in one space. It also showcases modern-day pop culture artists, and reflects the lifestyle and passion of its artists influenced by contemporary, pop surrealism, underground and street art.

Spin Paintings by Gerardo Tan
Acryclic on Vinyl Record
12 inch diameter

Just like what I said earlier, Vinyl on Vinyl features modern-day pop culture artists. These spin paintings were produced by makeshift players and paint on vinyl records. “The machines are refashioned so that their needles spread and push acrylic paint across the records’ grooves, creating spirals and patterns of pigment.” I find these spin paintings so lively and childish. The vibrant colors remind me of my childhood days (OMG, I can’t believe that I’m in my early adulthood.) The paintings wake up my inner child, which helps me in relieving stress.

Nyt Nyt by Tyang Karyel
Acrylic on Plywood

Nyt Nyt represents the typical woman life — always on fire! As a lady, I can say that our heart is the center of our lives. It helps us function everyday. It may help pump our lives, but we make sure it is very well guarded. You have to pass the thorns, before getting our pure and loving hearts. We may be physically weak, but we can make your lives colorful.

I’m Not Letting Go by Mayi Penaflorida
Oil on Canvas
36 x 30 in

I’m Not Letting Go, a painting that depicts a typical girl. A lass who can’t easily let go. This is my favorite painting in Vinyl on Vinyl, because I can see myself in her how innocent and pure her eyes are. They say that eyes are the windows to one’s soul, I can see in her eyes that she is saddened in letting go the balloon. This balloon may symbolize something big. In my case, it was hard for me to leave my former school, but I had to become courageous to let it go, since it already caused me so much pain. And, I am very much happy that I left it. Sometimes you have to let go, in order to be happy.

One of the Art Fair Philippines’ most awaited component of the fair is the ArtFairPH which features works from Filipino visual artists. The commissioned artists of the 2017 Art Fair are Agnes Arellano, Elmer Borlongan, Patricia Perez Eustaquio, Emmanuel Garibay, and Dexter Fernandez, Mark Justiniani, Maria Jeona Zoleta, and the sound art group WSK. The 2017 recipient of the Karen H. Montinola Selection, a private grant created in homage to art patron Karen Hernandez Montinola, is interdisciplinary and ceramic artist Mark Valenzuela.

Dex Fernandez

Video Animation
Drawing Installation

Resilience is an understand quality of the Garapata or the tick. Branded as pests, we are easily repulsed by its vicious bloodthirstiness and the possible diseases it can transmit. It latches its six than legs on the skin of its unsuspecting host, making it notoriously difficult to dislodge and growing every plumper with every slurp. Its survival instinct even in the most erratic environments point to toughness and adaptability. These parasitic arachnids are unapolegitic, doing whatever is necessary to endure.
Dex Fernandez has repeatedly likened these creatures to Filipinos. Persisting in small pockets across the globe, we infiltrate practically every industry in every country, carrying with us our courage, and determination to keep moving and fighting no matter the circumstance.

Dex Fernandez’ gallery is interactive — everyone is invited to contribute and create arts on prepared illustrations of the Garapata. These illustrations will be showed as projected animation on the walls. Fernandez’ artistic freedom involves process, experiment, and play is encouraged. And, this where the journey of Garapata continues.

The works of Dex Fernandez’ are also the works of the public, since he let them do art. I find it very amusing, because Fernandez became a catalyst to do and appreciate art. The paintings inside the gallery are like very simple, but you can see that it contains one’s ideas. I also saw how creative and artsy Filipinos are. Well done Fernandez!

Agnes Arellano

Cast stone, tea stained

We are in the womb, the sacred knot, bound by time yet serenely aligned with the Divine and Eternal. Here, we come face to face to a quaternity of goddesses, arms upraised in epiphany, radiating with the strength, power, and wisom of the Sacred Feminine.
This is an encounter with four celestial beings: Dakini, Tantric sky dancer; Innana, multi-breasted cow goddess; Kali, Hindi goddess of Time, Death, and Destruction; and Magdalene, Christ’s most beloved disciple.
Reconstructed from live casts of her own naked body, the works are sculpted in cast stone and stained with tea. As Agnes Arellano, immortalizes herself in her art through the goddesses she depicts, viewers are granted the chance to hark to a time of equilibrim between mortals and gods. For no matter the epoch, there is only one Mother Earth and we are, after all, Her children.

These live casts are reconstructed based on Agnes Arellano’s body. The casts are sculpted in cast stone and stained with tea. These four sculptures are celestial beings: Dakini, Tantric sky dancer; Innana, multi-breasted cow goddess; Kali, Hindi goddess of Time, Death, and Destruction; and Magdalene, Christ’s most beloved disciple. Through her works, I realized the true value of women — how powerful and precious we are. In her works, the public are given the chance to pay close attention to a time of equilibrium between immortals and mortals. Remember that “For no matter the epoch, there is only one Mother Earth and we are, after all, Her children.”

Maria Jeona Zoleta

Mixed Media, Installation

Forced Farts, Cartoon Pain and Daddy Issues or Accident by Voodoo while I Masturbate Underwater with My Adult Baby Diaper Rash until Hell Freezes Over is a Freak Show is a freak show are regurgitations of imagined experiments and adventures imbued with the rawness of Maria Jeona Zoleta’s artificial, virtual, and physical realities. Her painting stand for both birth and decay in the non-linearity and obscurity of her fears and dreams. Alongside the performances that are at once scripted and unscripted, is a projection of her first full-length experimental coming of age film that uses multi-layers of green screen. In the background, her musical improvisations and recordings are played. The natural and DIY elements of this mystical and psychedelic space are plainly intuitive, where the speed of the electronic frantically merge with the meditative pacing of the handmade.

Zoleta’s work is full of oddities and fascination. Her gallery is very vibrant and attention-seeker. I thought, it was a child-like gallery, but it turned out to be a liberated one. I found it messy since it contains so many pieces that exposed both extreme ends of the spectrum. In her gallery, she was able to manipulate contradictory impressions into one — sex and innocence, virture, and perversion.

Art Fair wanted to develop a wide range of audience for Philippine visual arts. When I was visiting the fair, a Canadian writer and sociologist of culture Dr. Sarah Thornton, author of art world bestseller Seven Days in the Art World was giving a talk and doing autographs.

The audience in the Art Fair were far different from the National Museum’s audience. The audience in the Art Fair is diversed — from students to professionals. While, in the National Museums, most visitors were students. I can say that the Art Fair’s audience were classy, sophisticated, and smart. They have the heart for ART.

The visitation helped me to relax my mind after taking three midterm exams on that day. I think I developed my aesthetic side!

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