Here's Why We Think The Art Fair Philippines 2019 Is Better Curated
Art Fair Philippines at The Link is back, and it’s our annual ritual, love fest, orgy, celebration and/or wild party for all things art-related here in Manila. As early as Friday morning, all parking areas around the Link were full; and woe to you if you were driving yourself to the Fair, as you had to park as far away as Park Square. And trust me, that will be the story until the Fair closes Sunday night. Whether it’s to view the art, or be viewed viewing the art, denizens from all over the metropolis troop to the Link during these three days to attend the fair.
This year, it’s spread over four floors of the Link, with an added attraction of a Rooftop Cafe. And if you were wondering whether it’s bigger and better this year, or a case of the "same same," know that this 2019 edition is much better organized, better curated, and is more rational in terms of spacing, logistics, and preparation. For those planning to spend countless hours at the fair, food and drink options are available, and the Art Talks that have been organized look, on paper, like hot tickets for a better understanding of the art scene and how the Philippines figures in that landscape.
If there are strong recurring themes, one would have to do with the environment, and the impact of plastics on the fragile state of nature and the seas. Installation pieces that have spread to the Greenbelt and Exchange Plaza, Ayala Triangle, have once again extended the perimeter of what count as elements of the Art Fair. There’s a spectacular piece by Japanese Shinji Ohmaki at the Exchange Plaza fountain area; and a collaboration between Neal Oshima and Olivia d’Aboville at the pond area beside the Ayala Museum.
At the Link, my personal highlight would be the Botero section. Acknowledged as the greatest of our living artists, Colombian Fernando Botero may not have brought his sculptures here, but his paintings still carry his signature style of large, exaggerated volume, and I loved seeing how this applies not only with his depiction of people, but also in his fruits and inanimate objects!
I understand from the organizers of the Art Fair that Botero was personally excited to be exhibiting here in Manila, and had a hand in the selection brought here. From Park Avenue in New York, to the Champs Elysees in Paris, and on to Central Embassy in Bangkok, there’s no escaping the global impact of this revered artist, and it’s such a coup to have him here for this Art Fair Philippines.
The four floors are a hodgepodge of art that astounds, that’s tactile and/or can start a conversation, that leaves one speechless, or speaking in tongues in exultation. It’s definitely a mixed bag as any Art Fair will turn out to be. For the very critical, they’ll say there’s a lot of garbage and junk that made the selection; but in the end, one man’s garbage can be another man’s nectar, so who are we to say what is Art and what is F_ rt? The sincere attempt to entertain, elucidate, inform, and expose while still curating is evident; and ultimately, it’ll be you and your reactions that rule how successful you believe is this year's Art Fair Philippines.
Mauro Malang Santos
"Cheap Medicine" by Oscar Villamiel
"Everything, Everywhere, Everyone" by Olivia D'Aboville
"Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso" by Ian Fabro
"Leaving Baguio" by Santiago Bose
I’ve put together as many representative images as I could of the scope and breadth of what is being exhibited over the next three days, and I can just guarantee that it’s a lot of fun, and an outright trip to walk through the floors and take in this wonderful "Assault On Our Senses."
Photos by Philip Cu-Unjieng
Additional photo by Judy Arias