When it was announced that going to Art Fair Philippines was a requirement for my FA classes, I was probably one of the many students who were thrilled to be able to experience and see how artists gather together and showcase their works. I’ve never been to an art fair before, so going to Art Fair Philippines 2017 was a first for me. I didn’t exactly know what to expect, nor did I anticipate the long line that stretched outside the venue when I arrived last Saturday evening, but nevertheless, that didn’t hinder me from appreciating all that the Art Fair had to offer.
As I walked around the fifth floor with my mother, I noticed that there weren’t really a lot of exhibits, especially when you compared it to the sixth and seventh floors. There were exhibits of Bench and Don Papa, but what I liked was an off-site exhibition of Ronald Ventura’s Shadow Forest: Encounters and Explorations, which caught my eye for the way he used hyper-realism in order to create images that looked like they were created using photo manipulation. His collection is very interesting and intense in the way he puts together complex compositions and juxtaposes the human and the animal within the works.
Another painting which intrigued me was Jason Montinola’s Full Gospel. The painting depicts what looks like a headless priest whose arms were gesturing upward, while a skull sits on the bottom left hand corner. I don’t really know much about the techniques used on oil painting, as I’ve never used it as a medium in my artworks before, but I guess what drew me in was the way he composed the painting and left this dark hole at where the head of the figure would be, and that was what pulled me in because it gave off this mysterious, creepy feeling within the painting. Upon closer inspection, I also noticed that the hands of the figure had holes in the middle, which implied that the figure had been crucified. Now, I’m really at a loss about the figure in the painting. Is the figure a good person or a sinner? Is it a commentary about priests or god, or people who preach? I am confused. But I guess that’s the power of art, they make your mind think, plague you even when you are trying to sleep.
I also came across an anti-Marcos work, which cleverly condensed its commentary using boxes and photos. I think it’s showed the two-faces of the regime and how people masqueraded themselves as heroes amidst hiding their sinister crimes.
Somewhere along, I managed to spot Ian Fabro‘s works too! I was ecstatic because I recognized him from being featured in Ateneo Art Awards and loved his works. I just love the meticulousness of his large scale installations/paintings. He cuts out his inked out drawings and collages them. I know he used staplers in his prior works and here, he used pins. I also love how there’s always something poetic about the titles of his works. The ones above are where I am younger than a world, I become the wild; peacock stains across the sand and murder rocks refuse to you; and might as well know nothing is free of you.
On the other hand, I also liked Benjie Torrado’s three exhibited works: A Veil of Shared Activity, New Encounters Along the Way and Captured Moment. At first glance, I noticed his works because I immediately recognized water color in the way the colors blended in his work. And then upon closer inspection, I found little details and images which were formed by small white spaces without paint. That was when I realized that he had used etching in his artwork. I was kind of amazed because how do you even do that? Etch on Watercolor? His work featured many organic forms and gave me the feeling of something surreal or from science-fiction. There was something delicate about it that also reminded me of marine wildlife. And while writing this I just realized that the same face of a native man was repeated in all three of the paintings that he made. I guess the work might be suggesting a concept that man and the creatures in our wildlife, both share the same space. That we co-exist in our environment and that while infrastructures continue to be built and developed, the natural world and creatures also evolve alongside us.
Tromarama‘s 3D lenticular prints struck me too. “i see what i see, i think what i think” and “i see what i see, i feel what i feel”, are the words on Theater and Classroom, respectively. I researched about then and apparently, they are an artist collective based in Indonesia which explores the boundary between the real and the virtual. The two works above show a reflected version of the words, and makes you feel as if you’re behind the screen with the effect of the lenticular print. It’s a clever choice of medium and I like the message behind it.
I also have to mention these sculptures made from found objects. I thought they were very cute, and instilled a certain delicate feeling of letting imagination take flight, or that imagination/home is anywhere.
This painting by Maria Cruz was also pretty attention grabbing, not just for its sheer size and scale (it was a pretty big painting) but also because of its color. It was big and bright and it stands out. As the title suggested, Red 30000 is an oil painting full of red circles—I’m not quite sure if there’s really 30000 circles in it—but anyway, I find the painting hypnotizing in the way that it almost emulates a whole block of red and yet gives you a slight glimpse of yellow underneath it. I imagine that the process involved in this work to create almost identical circles all along to be kind of obsessive almost. I’m never quite good in examining abstract paintings, but I do have a fascination with them and I found this work’s combination of serious yet playful color to be charming. When I researched about Maria Cruz, I also discovered that she’d been featured in the Ateneo Art Gallery before, and some of her past works also used tons of circles (some paintings used red; others used different colored circles). Apparently, Maria Cruz kind of uses circles as a symbolic quality and social representation of coins, so as the viewer could at it with the erased value of money and imagine it at the same time.
For another abstract looking piece, I really loved Michelline SyJuco’s Divinity of Dragons. Known for her handmade brass sculptures, Michelline used acrylic and oil on marine plywood for this piece and I think the effect of her painting and other sculptures all come together and complement each other well under the overall theme of “Metamorphosis”. I think this painting of hers really emulates the feeling of crystals or something I’d imagine dragon shells or eggs to look like. The bright, but soft pastel colors in her painting go really well with each other and create an effect of texture. For me, the painting ignites a sort of imagination within the viewer that takes you to another magical realm. If I could have taken this baby home, I would have. (The price displayed for it is P125,000, unfortunately, neither me nor my mother were willing to give up what amounts to my tuition fee for 1 whole semester *laughs*.) The paper bag sculpture of Tro-o-don made by her father(?) probably tops my cake because although it seems ridiculous to make a paper bag sculpture, it actually works. As someone who is fascinated with dinosaurs, it really pulled me in and made me curious to know what is inside, even if I knew that it was impossible for there to be real dinosaur bones or something in it. It just draws people in because in some way, we’re all looking for something exotic or rare or long gone.
Here in this slideshow were more works which I enjoyed, it includes: Pannaphan Yodmanee’s Time Series; Arwin Dwihartanto Sunaryo’s installations; Ferdinand Cacnio’s Tender Moments; Mark Aran Reyes’s The Oneiric Time Piece; Gusto ko ng Tinapay; Ramon Orlina’s glass sculptures. Martha Atienza’s our islands, Elaine Navas’s The Earth is Upheld by a Cow of Blue Color, Hannah Pettyjohn’s Unearthed N(W), Ian Fabro, and many more! Now, there were many impressive works which I still want to talk about, but if I did, this post would never end. So all in all, I would like to end it with this. The Art Fair was a very satisfying experience, albeit overwhelming. There were so many beautiful artworks! I find it difficult to process everything that I saw. If anything, I appreciate the fact that Art is starting to gain more interest here in the Philippines, and that through my art classes here in Ateneo, I hope I’ll be able to become good enough to be exhibited in the future too. A beginner artist can dream, right?