Art Fair Philippines 2017

Ever since it started in 2013, Art Fair Philippines never failed to amuse people coming by to see what it has to showcase. Everyone is looking forward to witness all featured artworks made by renowned artists using different mediums. People are walking around, stopping by to look closely on artworks of their choice, taking photos, looking with awe on every work placed within the corners of the fair. I, myself, find the whole fair astounding. I do have my personal favorites, but I have to admit that I couldn’t help but wonder about the messages every artwork wishes to convey.

I spent an hour or two looking for something that would make the greatest impact on me. To my surprise, a lot of artworks featured in the fair have left me thinking about how great they are and running out of words to describe how amazing the works were. Here are some of those works.

I. GALLERIES

Personal favorites….
Source: http://aumanila.com/

Art Underground is my top pick among my personal favorites in this year’s Art Fair. Despite it looking simple, something in it bring some kind of catharsis to everyone looking at the works it features. The gallery is placed in one corner, with three large works hanging, all possessing some kind of message and attack on the soul. Art Underground has its gallery located at Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila, Philippines. The gallery features timeless works of various contemporary artists, including Marc Aran Reyes- the man behind the featured works of Art Underground in this year’s Art Fair.

Marc Aran Reyes

What you would notice about Marc Aran Reyes’ works is his choice of color. You see, his works are mostly of the shades of white, black, and gray. Unlike other artists and artworks that expresses strong messages with the use of vibrant colors, this artist has the ability to leave impact with the use of his soulful choice of colors and subject. Reading through Art Underground website’s background on Marc Aran Reyes, he’s an artist who, more than anything, wishes to leave an impact on people through his works. He often chooses women and life as his subject and wishes to bring out strong emotions from it. Above all, he loves to work using his hands as he believes his hands move according to what his heart desires.

“I opt to express the bittersweet truth of life in my paintings. I am a fan of humanity,” says Marc Aran Reyes

The very first time I laid my eyes on his artworks, I already know I would love to dig into it and write about it. I know I made the right choice. The artworks under the gallery which are made by him are truly commendable. It’s attack is not only on the eyes but also on the soul of the audiences.

“The Oneiric Time Piece”

Among all the galleries and artworks that caught my eye is Art Underground featuring Marc Aran Reyes’ “The Oneiric Time Piece”. After hours of walking around, looking for a gallery to feature, taking photos of several artworks, I saw a gallery comprised only of three artworks, all from only one artist. Unlike all the other artworks hanging on the walls, you would notice that the gallery is composed only of three black-gray-white themed artworks, all tackling and trying to convey a series of messages about people and time.

They say time is the most precious of all. People chase trains and buses, afraid of getting late, party hard afraid of time passing them by, spend time reminiscing on what went by. We dwell so much with the past and get too excited of the future that we often fail to work on our present. “The Oneiric Time Piece” features a series of artworks that convey a deep message about people and how we value time.

The Arduous Past by Marc Aran Reyes

Ever wonder why many people are being held back by their past? The first artwork under “The Oneiric Time Piece” is entitled “The Arduous Past”. Arduous means difficult. A difficult past, I know we all have one. Each passing time, we are growing and learning. That’s probably the reason why we are getting tougher as we face the same scenario that brought us to our knees in the past. This artwork goes out to those who have experienced a terrible phase in their lives that they wouldn’t ever forget. Those who thought they wouldn’t survive without losing everything that they have. Those who felt alone, fighting battles that are never-ending. Those who are trying to heal wounds that are still fresh. Those who find it hard to wake up in the morning, remembering what they were trying to forget.

It may seem unhealthy to look back on those memories, but maybe avoiding it wouldn’t help you move forward either. The moment I looked at this artwork, believe me, I thought I would shed a tear. All the memories of the past flashed back. It was as if I were dragged back to that moment again, the moment I was trying to forget. But afterwards, I saw how I’ve overcome everything and get to where I am right now.

The Wistful Present by Marc Aran Reyes

A present full of regrets. A present full of thinking and reminiscing. This is what the second art is about. Wistful means having thoughts about what could’ve been, about the past. We all go through the same thing. It doesn’t matter if it was a happy or sad one, we all spend time thinking about “what ifs”. What if I chose the other way? What if I didn’t do what I did? What if things turn out differently? In relation to the previous artwork, this is the phase wherein we dwell on the difficult phase of our lives, thinking how would it be like if we did not or did do something about it.

We often think too much about the past that we forget to try living in the present, with what’s in front of us. This work depicts the reality about us, humans, and our lives. There’s nothing wrong about being nostalgic at times, however, let’s not let it ruin what’s in store for us in the present. Learn from what was and work on ourselves. It’s good to look back from time to time, but always keep your eyes forward. We shall not waste our lives thinking about something we cannot do anything about. Let’s help ourselves walk the way towards self-healing.

The Audacious Future by Marc Aran Reyes

The last piece, of course, talks about the future. An audacious one, a bold, fearless, future. After what we’ve all been through, we see a tougher version of ourselves living in the future. If we would not let anything break us, we would see ourselves untouchable and unbreakable. We’ll see our future selves getting wiser and braver enough to conquer whatever it is that’s in our way. Struggles some and go. We must see those struggles in a different way and use it, instead, as stepping stones as we work on a better version of ourselves. The future depends upon the decisions we are making today. See every passing day as an opportunity to shape yourself to be your ideal future self. So to all of you, to all of us, who are struggling over whatever aspect in our lives, we got this. These, too, shall pass.

II. ARTISTS

A. RONALD VENTURA

Ronald Ventura earned BFA in Painting from University of Santo Tomas. His works were once featured in The New York Times, a proof that his works are truly exceptional. He currently holds the title of having the most expensive painting by a Filipino that was sold in an auction. This year’s Art Fair features his works under the theme “Shadow Forests: Encounters and Explorations”, which is also simultaneously exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. From the title itself, he showed in his exhibit artworks that talk about the wild. This is the top among all my personal favorite exhibits of renowned artists because his art may seem simple but if you’ll look closely, you’ll see there’s something in there that’s waiting to be unlocked.

He does painting and sculpture, all crafted using his unique style and choice of subject, which are mostly historical or pop. Some of his artworks featured in this year’s Art fair are the following:

A sample piece sculpted by Ronald Ventura that was placed in his exhibit in this year’s Art Fair. The art was described as a winged horse that travels through foot and flight. Broken into pieces, it means the horse was not able to reach its destination. The destination was referred to as “elusive” or difficult to reach. He used metaphors in delivering the message through this sculpture, such as the horse broken into fragments as a sign of failure, and its wings and feet as means of achieving the desired destination. I think the sculpture depicts a scenario wherein one once dreamt of reaching something beyond his/her reach the he/she ended up broken.
Beasty. This art truly matches his theme, “Shadow Forests”. When we’re in the forest, we will see all sorts of animals in the wild. But as I look closely into this art, I notice that this looks more like a cat with larger teeth, making it look wild. A cat is known to be sweet and cute. Seeing this art, I think this means despite the appearance, something and someone have something in them that we do not see. Something looking sweet could also be cruel and scary. The outsides do not tell us everything that we ought to know about something/someone.
Although this work was not actually under his exhibit but that of Bench’s, I find this my favorite among his works that I’ve seen in the fair. The artwork was originally made by Ronald Ventura for Bench and was sculpted during the time when there was a relief operation after a typhoon in Ormoc City. This was especially sculpted to give hope to the victims of the typhoon. The eye bursting with colors represent visions for the future, hope for a colorful tomorrow. Through his art, Ronald Ventura delivers his message not only to the victims, but also to those who are struggling at the present time. This was then replicated in Bench’s tshirts.

B. MARIA JEONA ZOLETA

One thing remarkable about Maria Jeona Zoleta’s works is her choice of colors. Her choice of shades are mostly strong, neon, and fancy. A product of the University of the Philippines, Zoleta is an emerging artist whose works are classified under the millennial contemporary art. She is known for her works made out of rainbow tint and of subjects mostly tackling humor and freedom.

This is a photo of me taken in front of one of her artworks. You would notice a burst of neon and mostly pink colors on and around the artwork. Her artwork appears to be vague for me, at first. Every artist has his/her own style, so does Maria Jeona Zoleta. I have always been intrigued and fascinated by artworks whose messages I cannot fathom. Maybe, that’s the reason why Maria Jeona Zoleta’s works caught my attention.

Bright hues of her works reflect the meaning behind them. Her exhibit in this year’s art fair is comprised of works with sexual contexts. Her works feature the generations’ consciousness, curiosity, and pleasures. She exposed the human pleasures through her art, incorporating her own style of vibrant hues and colors.

Other Artists……

III. ART FAIR AND THE PEOPLE

A. National Museum x Art Fair

Art Fair and National Museum both features art with various themes and made out of various mediums. They both present artworks of renowned Filipino artists that convey strong messages about various issues of the society. However, the two are different in so many ways.

Firstly, the atmosphere in the Art Fair is way lighter as compared to that of the National Museum. There were no rules on the distance between you and the artwork. You can freely roam around and take pictures as you wish. Some even had the chance to touch the artworks. You do not have to fear of someone watching over you wherever you go. You do not have to feel controlled and you do not have to feel like you are asked to suppress your emotions. In the art fair, I felt like I can freely express what I feel about the artworks.

Second, the audiences are there for different purposes. In the National Museum, people go there to simply look and appreciate the artworks. In the Art Fair, people go there to have one of those artworks be hanged on their house walls. People are going there to see what they can buy. In National Museum, the audiences are like roaming around in park while in the Art Fair, people are walking around, jumping from art to art, like moving from one shop to another.

Lastly, the artworks featured in the National Museum is different from those featured in the Art Fair. They both do have artworks of different genre but what I’ve noticed is that the Art Fair shows more modern, free, and wider range of artworks.

Overall, I had fun visiting Art Fair Philippines 2017 and I really wish to come and visit next year’s fair. I always have this admiration for artists and artworks and it was one great experience to witness artworks from various artists, all made out of their free minds and hearts.