For the collector and doctor Rico Quimbo, it was the expanded photography section that he liked the most, and the tightly put-together show by Jan Balquin at the Underground Gallery booth. For Jay Amante of Blanc Gallery, its Subject/Object, MM Yu's special project on the 5th floor: an assemblage of pictures and personal ephemera from different studios of her artist friends. "I've seen different versions of this exhibition," says Amante, "and it gets me every time."
For Isa Lorenzo, she's just happy Silverlens got to sell, which—judging from the feedback on her hangs—is just the gallerist essentially trying to be modest. But of course she's probably not as happy as we assume the people who sold a Botero are (the piece reportedly sold for 1.6 million USD), or the guy who sold a Bencab (for Php 45 million—we're looking at you, Bigboy Cheng). These two were supposedly the biggest sales of the four-day art extravaganza.
What will you remember this 2019 edition of Art Fair Philippines for? we asked a few people we know from the art community. We have our own memories but we’d like to know if we missed out on anything, having spent so much time at the Arc booth.
"I really enjoyed watching the field trippers, especially the younger ones weaving in and out of the precious art," says collector and dealer Norman Crisologo, who put the Ian Fabro booth together. “The looks on the gallerinas' faces were worth a small Jigger Cruz."
The number of visitors the fair attracts each year has always surprised art watchers, not in the least Amante. "Makes you wonder though why not so many people attend the monthly exhibitions around Manila which are as good, and free of charge. May libre pang beer!" says the gallery owner. "Are people really there for the art? Or are they there just because?"
Don’t ask us. We’re just here to people-watch and take in the spending vibe.
Here are the things we’ll remember the 2019 Art Fair Philippines for:
For showing us that #gazillionairesarejustlikeus — they like taking pictures of art, too.
For giving the content creators a new alternative space for their selfies and multiple layouts: The Link roof deck.
For David Medalla who singlehandedly ushered the return of embroidery.
For showing us that it's time the Art Fair creates/moves to a venue worthy of David’s presence.
For MM Yu’s show, the best argument for anti-Marie Kondoism.
For Isabel Santos’s outfits.
For the side amusements. The K9 bomb dogs were this year’s breakout stars.
Followed by this gymnast trying to imitate the Chati Coronel painting, for the ‘Gram—or trying to make Isa Lorenzo’s Silverlens booth a Moro Lorenzo Sports Center. (There was at least one guest who would try this stunt each of the four days.)
For the resurfacing of John Lloyd Cruz. Here he is in a selfie with our style guy Monchet Olives at the VIP preview. We almost didn’t recognize him while he was chatting up artist Gary Ross Pastrana at MM Yu’s booth, no small thanks to the cap and the thicker facial hair. A week later, he will surprise us by opening his first solo show at West Gallery, with Pastrana’s gallery notes accompanying his photographs of desolate spaces. But what really surprised us at the Art Fair was when he insisted to line up like the rest of the multitude by the registration area just to be allowed entry—even if we already offered to give him our VIP pass and smuggle his bag in. Slow clap for Citizen Lloydie.
For the would-have-been battle between high profile collector Kim Camacho and Christine Bersola-Babao after the former warned the latter not to touch the Botero she was having a picture taken with along with two reporters from Preen.ph. Tintin expressed her sentiments on her Instagram account. Nothing was heard from Mrs. Camacho, except the said warning caught in the Preen video. Thankfully the whole thing didn’t reach Kris-Nicko levels or you would still be hearing about it from us.
Post art fair. Nakakalagnat. Pwede na tayong huminga. Sa lahat ng mga nasagap na mga katotohanan sa ingay at bulungan ito ang mga napulot ko. Tratuhin ang isa't isa ng tama. Ingatan ang pananalita. VIP ang artist. I-brief ang mga guard. Gusto ng artist na pantay ang exposure sa lahat ng plataporma. Bigyan din ng respeto ang nakatatandang artist. Ilagay sila sa tamang lugar para matutong magbigay pugay ang batang artist. Gusto rin ng galleries na patas ang sistema ng pagpili ng espasyo. Wag mambiktima o mabiktima ng sariling tagumpay. Lagyan ng title cards. Ang sining ay buhay kaya kailangan ng mga kritiko. Ang art fair ay hindi validation ng artist kundi ang ipinapamahagi ninyong sining sa labas ng platapormang ito. Pasalamatan ang afp, pasalamatan ang gallery pasalamatan ang artist. Mas mahalaga ang sining at komyunidad kaysa sa pera. ✌🏽️❤️#artfairphilippines2019
For this very important message from artist Eric Zamuco.
Seriously, we enjoyed this 7th edition of the biggest art event in the country. It's a yearly occasion for the art community to work and hang out in a big way. We are surrounded by beautiful things. We discover new names, and old works we haven't seen. As for what can be improved, Amante brings up the issue of the venue, that it could do well with bigger booths and higher ceilings. "The parking lot idea was very charming,” he says. “Emphasis on the was."
But over all, it was pretty good. Even Rico Quimbo agrees. "But not as good as the previous two iterations," says the good doctor who just bought his first Chabet at the fair (he used to buy the up and comers but the price of their works have startlingly creeped up to Chabet levels). "I feel the fair has peaked and is sliding down. It's not necessarily a bad thing, in my honest opinion. I think change and evolution is integral in art and art fairs. Am I looking forward to the next one? No. Miro, my brother, who couldn't attend, asked me if he was missing anything. I replied, 'Nah.'"
Us? We're showing up next year for sure.
Photographs by Tammy David except for photo of Subject/Object, John Lloyd Cruz (courtesy of Monchet Olives), Christine Bersola (courtesy of Bersola).
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