follow us on

Pastoral Images Have A Place In The Modern Home

Some established art spaces frown upon the idea of buying a painting just to match a couch. Space Encounters is not that kind of art space. Its newly opened gallery in Ortigas is all about giving their audience an idea on how and where to hang their art in the contemporary home.

By putting together smartly composed vignettes that include furniture and accent pieces, the creative team of Wilmer Lopez and Thor Balanon allow their clients to imagine how even the most difficult art pieces can find its place in modern living environs.

Thor cites as an example a very political piece by Burn Aquino from their last show. The furniture it was matched had a softening effect to the painting, and consequently the entire vignette had a charming effect on one of their buyers. The gallery sold the art, along with the lamp, the chair, and the side table that came with it. “That’s also how we stand out from among the other galleries,” Thor adds. “We present the interaction between art and furniture and how they can exist in a living space."  

In the space’s current show "This Land Is Your Land," artworks that depict pastoral scenes reminiscent of the style of Fernando Amorsolo and photographs of Philippine indigenous tribes are mixed with mid-century Filipino furniture and industrial touches. The results are both funky and homey, and yes, nostalgic—harking back to a genteel past we all could snuggle up to.

“We wanted to start the year by looking back,” says Thor, “hoping that this will guide us in the coming months.” Speaking of guides, the vignettes from the current show below should be a good compass to start with if you have some nostalgic artworks just gathering dust in the bodega.


Vignette 1: Entryway

Philippine-based American photographer Justin James Wright’s black and white portraits of Aeta women give new meaning to looking at ourselves when matched with this dresser whose provenance is a pre-war home. Wilmer chose to keep the mirror’s blemishes and the dresser’s patina and hardware to give the piece enhanced character. The teal color of the wall gives this ensemble a contemporary spark, and so do the brass pineapple accents.  


Vignette 2: Lounge

Pieces from different places and points in time meet together and form a nostalgic picture. A vintage comoda and a clock from 1920s Germany blend well with the portraits of women and rural life, giving the feel of a lazy afternoon. The pink wicker chair gives a funky, if grandmotherly, touch to the assemblage. Richard Buxani’s steel sculpture from his Mollusk series somehow fits right in, breaks the tita feels, and gives the setting a contemporary accent.


Vignette 3: Cigar Area


A pair of very masculine black leather chairs with images of nipa huts? Why the hell not. Thor and Wilmer show us it works. The paintings by Jose Pereira, Martin Catolos, and Crispin V. Lopez are grouped because they echo each other’s color palettes. The mid-century modern pieces complete the look, and the transistor radio—you have to wait for it to heat up before your favorite AM program comes on—is a cool conversation piece. The teal chest gives this space a surprise pop of color. 


Vignette 4: Dining Hall    

It's easy to just hang one large painting on a wall, but it is more interesting visually to put together several different size paintings together—as long as they have some form of commonality. In this grouping, an Impressionistic still life of flowers by Cesar Buenaventura is the anchor for the other nature paintings that surround it. The trick: print thumbnail images of the artworks, cut them up and play around with its arrangements before hanging your paintings. The urna from the early 1900s at right is from Bohol. It stands on top of an altar which during war time in the Philippines served also as refuge for Filipinos hiding from Japanese soldiers (it has a secret door).


Space Encounters Gallery is on the 7th Floor of the Padilla Building, F. Ortigas Jr. Road, Ortigas Center