12 things to do at Art Fair PH

Joko Magalong-De Veyra

Posted at Feb 23 2019 02:24 PM | Updated as of Feb 23 2019 02:29 PM

MANILA - It’s not too late to visit and marvel at the incredible art on display at this year's Art Fair Philippines, which runs this weekend at The Link in Makati City.

Featuring four floors of art, with a dedicated floor for the ArtFair Philippines projects, the seventh edition of the festival presents an irresistible draw to the art lover, as well as provides a great venue to start learning and appreciating art with guided tours and talks on various topics. 

“Art is personal. When you decide to purchase art, you must buy art that speaks to you, or reflects what you want,” said Cathy Santamaria, SVP and chief marketing officer of Bank of the Philippine Islands, one of the co-presenters of the fair, providing credit card support to various galleries as well as offering insurance options for security to art collectors.

This advice strikes true especially with the many styles and art media on display at the Art Fair, as one would be hard pressed not to find a favorite. 

Indulge your eyes with beauty (the works of famed Latin artist Fernando Botero require a long leisurely viewing time) and arresting installations, or hangout in a tea lounge or drink some rum surrounded by art, each year of the Art Fair Philippines brings new things to discover. 

1. See sustainable art

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

One of the Art Fair/PH projects was from Olivia d’ Aboville named “Catch of the Day,” which featured plastics from packaging and “trash” attached to a net purchased in Bangkok. Per its description, the artwork took 4 artisans and 300 hours to make. It’s an art piece that encourages one to think about what we consume and pollute the ocean with, especially as the Philippines is one the biggest plastic pollution producers in the world.

2. Relax with kinetic art 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Just at the lobby of the Art Fair are the 3D and 4D kinetic art creations of Masato Tanaka. A work entitled “Awaiting with Counting the Wind” was specially arresting, strangely relaxing as you watch the art wobble and turn, casting shadows on a wall. 

3. Immerse yourself in an Installation: for the book lover

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

The Art Fair/PH projects floor contains many installations including ‘Forest for the Trees’ by Christina Quisimbing Ramilo, a whole wooden library created with ‘retaso’ (scraps) from old houses to make up the books. Envisioned by the artist to be interpreted as ‘an open book,’ the installation is a favorite for many looking for that Instagrammable photo, and if you’re a book lover as is this author, it gave me a new context to the term — dead tree book.

4. Immerse yourself in an Installation: for the Manileño 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Various cutouts of Old Manila’s structures mounted on etched glass, lighted to reveal shadows on a wall evoking both awe and loss for things lost. 

5. Immerse yourself in an Installation: participative art

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

Presented by BPI, one of the highlights of the fair is David Medalla’s new iteration of ‘A Stitch in Time,’ which was first conceptualized in 1968. This artwork requires the audience to participate in the creation of art, asking them to stitch objects onto the canvas, hung like hammock with colorful thread spools hanging for your use when you stitch an object into the cloth. On the first day, we found many items from pictures, tickets, to even a rosary. 

6. Immerse yourself in an Installation: creep yourself out

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

In Oca Villamiel’s ‘Cheap Medicine,’ you walk into a room filled with coconut shell heads mounted on bamboo sticks. All of the heads are caught mid-laugh, open-mouthed with pointy teeth, terrible abaca fiber hair, and splashes of acrylic. Their expressions feel frightening and perverse. Said to represent the artist’s response to the election of underserving and ineffectual leaders, it’s a visually captivating installation, evoking a gut visceral reaction of repugnance, at least to this author. 

7. Drink or dine surrounded by art 

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

Tired from all the browsing? Stay in any of the food and drink concessionaires and partners in the fair. For something alcoholic, there are many alternatives including the Don Papa Rum Bar and Happy Living Wine Bar, among others. Something more relaxing and zen? The Tsaa Laya Tea Salon provides respite, or if you’re more a coffee drinker, Toby’s Estate makes a great flat white. For some bites, the Aburi Bar has some Japanese eats for those wanting something to nibble.

8. Take photos of photos

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

Photography is permitted in the fair, although the use of flash is prohibited. Art Fair Philippines/Photo is now a permanent part of the fair, and with photographs ranging from nostalgic pieces to fascinating series of pictures like this one from Poklong Ananding. 

9. Step into a landscape 

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

“Healing Grounds” by Jim Orencia is jarring when you suddenly come upon it as you browse the fair. An enclave with walls lined with landscapes drenched in bright light with a floor of dried leaves, step into the space, sit on a chair and immerse yourself in nature. 

10. Experience some Team Lab 

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

Projections and digital art are Team Lab’s forte, and fairgoers get a taste of it in Art Fair PH with two of Team Lab’s installations on display. The first is Reversible Rotation -Continuous Black and White, a panel featuring Japanese calligraphy. Another is a small ‘golden’ version of their waves exhibit in Tokyo called Golden Waves. The last is especially hypnotic. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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11. Witness the celebration of a 50-year career

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

One of the galleries on the 7th floor features work by renowned abstract artist, Romulo Olazo, whose family is celebrating 50 years of their father’s professional career with an exhibition of award-winning works, studies, and the family’s personal collection. Nude, pictured here, was the favorite of their matriarch, Patricia Olazo. 

12. Marvel at some posters 

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

In the age before digital printing and the like, poster-making and blueprinting were an art form, most exceptionally executed by famed design genius Ray Albano. 

Missing this fair? You have until Sunday to witness some public art from Art Fair Philippines 2019. We highly recommend visiting The Peninsula Hotel’s outdoor fountain from 6-10 p.m., where a version of Boticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’ will be projected, with technical direction and production by G.A. Fallarme, concept and art direction by Henk-Gert Lenten, and motion design Gedrick Roldan.