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Monday, February 27, 2017

Art Fair Philippines 2017: Review

I was a bit under the weather and for a brief moment of lethargic indulgence, I just wanted to stay cozy in bed that rainy Sunday morning of February 19th until my lulled consciousness jolted and hit me wide awake! It's the last day of the Art Fair Philippines 2017 Exhibit! I have been looking forward to the occasion (or more like drooling) in delicious anticipation for days, oh no, I wouldn't miss it for anything else! It is after all, the biggest, most esteemed and celebrated Art Exhibit in the Philippine contemporary art scene that happens only once a year!

Now on its 5th edition since 2013, The Art Fair Philippines 2017 was once again set up at The Link Car Park, Ayala Center in Makati City. At around 11 A.M., a queue had already snaked-up and the steady throng continued until I left at about four o'clock in the afternoon! The event was well-organized. There were ample ushers in uniform with hand-held radios for coordination. People came in droves but the staff was able to maintain order starting from the long line outside the venue, going up and down the stairs or elevator, to the registration line and whatnot. Even the elevator lady gave good "customer experience" as she wished her passengers an enjoyable time as they disembark on the 5th floor for the registration. Then, the ushers welcomed and directed the "new arrivals" to the registration area where admission wristbands were given out by friendly and perky personnel.

There were 3 car park floors (5th, 6th and 7th) that housed all the art gems during the 4-day art fair plus a roof deck where food and drinks were served, this addition I must say, made the venue all the more conducive to visitors. The floor areas were converted and subdivided into booths of different galleries to showcase their art pieces from renowned and talented Filipino and international artists. The over-all design was well thought of not just for aesthetics but also for the convenience of the attendees. There were cushioned stools, benches and couches spread sporadically and strategically in the huge area where one could rest while staring at a masterpiece. More importantly, there was enough space to huddle or roam around with a group, enjoy a glass of wine while satiating the hungry eyes with all the beauty around and even manage to take selfies with a stick despite the busy foot traffic!

The spectators, I noticed were predominantly young art enthusiasts usually clad in cool rugged tees and jeans or shorts with their sling bags and back packs versus the more mature ones dressed in fashionable casuals. One noticeable, common denominator 'though was that almost everyone had a powerful camera dangling around the neck, if not, armed with selfie sticks and the ever-reliable handy phone cams. It was a mixed audience of art lovers.

Art indeed is universal.

The massive art collection was an impressive display of various media: paintings, textile prints, sculpture, film, photography, audio art/engineering, furniture, interior design and more! If there was a time and space allotted for live performing artists, it would have been complete! I stayed for about 5 hours with only an hour break yet I was not able to take it all in; one day surely was not enough! It was great that a favorite Chinese restaurant was located on the ground floor. During my late lunch,  while nibbling on scrumptious Pork-Leg Bihon and sipping on hot tea, I looked out the glass paneled window and was quite amused by the excited faces of the people lined up around the restaurant's perimeter. They were animatedly chatting with each other without a tinge of annoyance for the long wait. I actually felt the pulsating, vibrant energy of  exhilaration in the air!

Caveat, art can be intoxicating!

Enough with the semantics, let's go visual! Here are just a few of the best art pieces on exhibit:


Ferdie Montemayor's series of black and white panel painting  entitled "Go!" occupied the Pinto Museum's Booth. Those familiar with  his artworks would immediately recognize the unique style imprint even before checking the artist's name. The horse race depiction successfully portrayed movement and speed on a still canvas! Simply marvelous!

Check out his other creations at the Pinto Art Museum. Below is "Panalo" a black and white, 3-panel series painting of a triathlon (swimming, cycling and running). It clearly narrates the multiple stages and sequential endurance disciplines of the sport. You can feel the power, motion and speed despite its stillness in black and white.

"Panalo" (Winner) by Ferdie Montemayor displayed at Pinto Art Museum

Now, this is what I call, Ngiting Panalo! (Winning Smile!)

"The "Oneiric Time Piece" a series by Marc Aran Reyes was  also one of the crowd favorites during the art fair. People couldn't help but stop and stare to relish its monochromatic color schemes from a single based hue of black extended by mixing, blending and spreading with white tint to achieve the dramatic tones and shades. The subdued effect was further enhanced by the installed illuminations. Oblivious of the crowd, I crossed the yellow line while deliciously feasting my eyes on its grandeur; if not for the "art patrol", I would have rubbed my cheek on the smooth, fluid, surreal paintings and kissed it! I was in love! 

"Oneiric Time Piece" a series of monochromatic oil paintings by Marc Aran Reyes

The “Project Pleiades” by Agnes Arellano occupied one big corner at The Link. The entrance had curtains that made the room mysterious. The black walls with symbolic white geometric lines or cosmic diagrams called "yantras" were the perfect backdrop for the four life-size sculpted goddesses, each one highlighted by a single spotlight that complimented their curvaceous, naked female forms. The effect was magically mesmerizing! I was fascinated by the aura and mystique of this collection. It was said that the artist used a live cast of her body back in the 80's. I have seen a lot of commissioned nude paintings that preserve in time the youthful, physical pulchritude of the model but a life-size, three-dimensional sculpture would be a better representation.

Art is immortal!

Posing with "Mary Magdalene" by Agnes Arellano

The Mary Magdalene stood calm and proud with closed eyes and welcoming arms. She showed a stigmata and a slight "rise" on her belly. There were a lot of mystical stories told about the controversial Mary Magdalene but none would dispute her beauty, wisdom and femininity. Here's one I found on

"Mary (Roman replacement of Miriyam) was born of Royal Heritage in the Palace at Magdala, meaning the High Tower. Magdala is two miles north of the city of Tiberias, along the lakeshore on the Sea of Galilee. The area was an important agricultural, fishing and trade center. Her father’s name was Cyrus (validity in Greek), who was King of the Benjamite Tribe. It is to be noted that each of the 12 tribes of Israel had a King and each tribe represented an astrological sign. The Benjamite Tribe’s Sign was that of Sagittarius, whose major aspect is Wisdom, the Feminine Aspect of the Gods. Their gemstone was a Topaz and their flag contained the 12 colors of the Zodiac. The Sagittarius sign is in the ninth house in the Astrological Wheel that coincides with the Immortal Stage, "The Rise" (or fifth) stage in the Great Cycle of Life. Mary Magdalene, born to the King of the Benjamite Tribe supports the World DivineIdeal, the announcement of the New World Collective Ideal, the Rise Stage."
Below are the other 3 Goddesses Kali, Inanna and Dakini.

Kali - Hindu Goddess of Time, Creation, Destruction and Power

Inanna - Goddess of Love, Wisdom, War, Fertility and Lust

Dakini - A tantric sky dancer.

The glass sculptures of Ramon Orlina were nonpareil! The forms were exquisitely shaped in smooth and flawless clarity. The abstract glass figures had calculated angles and prisms cut in precision and polished to such perfection  that it sparkled like diamonds! I was so enthralled by its elegant beauty that it intimidated me to come a foot close (I was approximately a meter away), lest I break a work of pure genius! I was in love from a distance... for the 2nd time, in just one day!

Ladies admiring Orlinas

You can see right through it!

A set of  jade green abstract glass sculptures by Ramon Orlina

An Elegant Orlina

Good art is a creative expression in any medium that makes an impact by evoking strong emotions and even provoking deep thoughts. Its value assessed in such a way that one would actually like to own a piece for a price or commission a talent for the creation of one. 

Art is an investment if not a business. Its richness in cultural and historical value appreciates in time. 

Ultimately, art is essential to human life. Therefore, it needs to be sustained and supported.

Here are some real good stuff marked as sold at the exhibit:

Maxine Syjuco Creations 

Shorelines 1, 2017, Oil on Canvas by Iyan De Jesus

To sing the praises of the man behind the wheel, Series # 1-4,
Ink on Canvas by Vic Balanon

Congratulations to the organizers, exhibitors, partners and sponsors of the Art Fair Philippines 2017! See you again next year!