Art Fair Philippines 2024 evokes a myriad of unique experiences through modern, contemporary art

MANILA, Philippines – Art Fair Philippines 2024 was a grand display of modern and contemporary art. A total of 55 exhibitors filled up four floors at The Link in Makati, with different art styles and mediums being highlighted throughout the event.

During the media preview on Thursday, February 15, attendees were treated to works ranging from interactive installations to oil paintings and everyday objects livened up with bright illustrations. Alongside Filipino galleries and artists, exhibitors hailing from Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Romania, Thailand, Vietnam, and Spain, among others, also showcased their work at Art Fair.

FLOWERS. The Beauty by South Korean artist Jung Jong-mee. Juno Reyes/Rappler
‘A MOMENT OF SURRENDER.’ Peeing in the Ocean by Czech Republic’s Petr Hajdyla. Juno Reyes/Rappler

Every floor and every booth was an entirely different world in and of itself, making Art Fair a culmination of a myriad of unique experiences.

Rappler spoke to several artists whose work were displayed at Art Fair to learn more about their creative processes, as well as the stories behind their art.

Varying contexts

Showcasing her work at Art Fair was Romanian artist Andreea Medar, whose piece stood in a room illuminated by blue light. Her exhibition was fronted by her installation titled The Forever Garden, which reminisces her childhood in Racoți, her grandparents’ village located in the south of Romania. The installation features the structure of a house adorned with some of the vegetables her grandfather used to plant in his garden. 

LUMINESCENT. The Forever Garden by Andreea Medar. Juno Reyes/Rappler

“In the past, [Racoți] was a place full of customs, traditions, and folklore, but nowadays, that space is almost empty due to the fact that the young people started to go abroad and the elderly started to die one by one,” Medar said. 

Through her work, the Romanian artist carries on the tradition of manual sewing methods that women would employ in the past. The plastic she used to complete the installation was also used in Racoți as a protector for tablecloths – acting then as a metaphor for transition. 

“For me, it’s a very metaphoric way of speaking about transition because it also reflects the changes that happened during my childhood, when the villagers started to replace the old objects, the traditional ones, with new ones made of plastic,” she said. 

Meanwhile, the Tumba-tumba exhibit, which takes on the theme of “being still and moving with time,” also acts as a memoir of childhood, Superduper Gallery’s Jessa Almirol told Rappler. The exhibit – a collaboration between veteran artists Alfred Galvez, Jason Quibilan, and Rubby – features common fragments from one’s childhood: carousels, tic tac toe boards, and a rocking horse, to name a few.

ROCKING CHAIR. Superduper Gallery’s Tumba-tumba exhibit. Juno Reyes/Rappler

The exhibit also celebrates Filipino heritage through Alfred Galvez’s Filipinoiserie paintings, which incorporate Filipino folklore and sights from the Philippine colonial era into his paintings of Chinoiserie-inspired vases.

FILIPINOISERIE. Pagtakas Ng Batang Julian by Alfred Galvez. Juno Reyes/Rappler

For instance, the handles in his Tambol Tambol piece take the shape of the bakunawa, the moon-eating dragon. Surrounding it are Dama de Noche, the night-blooming flowers that are prominent in the Philippines.

BAKUNAWA. Tambol Tambol by Alfred Galvez. Juno Reyes/Rappler
Zeroing in on process

Meanwhile, other artists, such as Fotomoto co-founder E.S.L. Chen, thrive in applying more process-based approaches to arrive at their final work. Chen shared that he did not actually have a final image in mind when he began creating his art piece. It was a spontaneous process of adding different elements to the piece until it formed a cohesive end-result.

THE FEMALE ORGASM. Visual artist E.S.L. Chen presents his take on the female orgasm in his three-piece installation. Juno Reyes/Rappler

“I just started gluing the papers on and I started painting random things that ended up looking like fruits and other things. After I went through everything, it seemed like I wanted to express how I imagined a female orgasm to be,” Chen said.

It’s the same for artist Garapata, who ended up with his psychedelic pieces titled Roos and Bao out of a spontaneous flow of creativity.

PSYCHEDELIC. Garapata’s Roos and Bao. Juno Reyes/Rappler

Walang super lalim na kwento ‘to, more on sa process ang mas importante sa akin. Nakita ko nung ginagawa ko siya, parang play lang sa’kin siya. Tapos ‘yung composition very spontaneous. Kung ano ‘yung energy o feeling ko at that time, tinatranslate ko lang siya on the spot,” he told Rappler.

(There isn’t a deep story to this, it was the process that was more important to me. I saw that when I was creating it, it was just like play to me. Then the composition was very spontaneous. Whatever my energy was or whatever I was feeling at that time, I would just translate it on the spot.)

To create is to challenge and question

Art Fair also served as a platform for contemporary artists to practice their craft in unconventional ways while challenging the notion of what “fine art” is – and the Bagay Bagay exhibit was a testament to that. Arranged by 18 young artists from the Manila Illustration Fair, Bagay Bagay applies the art of illustration to everyday objects like trash bins, pillows, jackets, and shoes, to name a few.

MAGIC IN THE MUNDANE. The Bagay Bagay exhibit by 18 young artists from the Manila Illustration Fair. Juno Reyes/Rappler

For instance, Elle Shivers, one of the artists from the collective, reimagines the linear presentation of time in her handbound, digitally illustrated 2024 calendar.

CALENDAR. 2024 by Elle Shivers. Juno Reyes/Rappler
PLAYING AROUND WITH THE CONCEPT OF TIME. Elle Shivers puts a new spin on the usual presentation of time in calendars. Juno Reyes/Rappler

“Calendar designs, or calendars in general, are pretty much understood universally because it follows linear time, so the numbers are linear, the days of the week are linear, and I wanted to play around with that concept and see how I could experiment with the concept of time dilation in design to see if I could communicate that. I just wanted to play around and subvert the visual language of a calendar,” Elle said.

On the 7th level of The Link sat “Un/Familiar Territories,” a large graffiti wall that attendees could spray paint themselves. The wall was set up by the street artist collective Pilipinas Street Plan – allowing attendees to try their hand at graffiti tagging and wall bombing right there at Art Fair. 

‘UN/FAMILIAR TERRITORIES.’ Pilipinas Street Plan’s graffiti wall at Art Fair. Juno Reyes/Rappler

Pilipinas Street Plan’s artists – while brought together by their shared affinity for graffiti – all found themselves immersed in the world of street art for different reasons.

For graffiti artist Chill, the street became his gallery when he had no access to art.

“‘Yung kalsada yung naging gallery namin noon no’ng nag-umpisa kami. Nagbuild kami ng small community lang tapos nag-grow siya unti-unti hanggang sa ngayon,” Chill told Rappler.

(The street became our gallery when we were just starting out. We built a small community then it slowly grew to what it is now.)

VIGILANT. Navigating Distortion by Chill. Juno Reyes/Rappler

Meanwhile, graffiti artist Chase started out as a graffiti writer through the influence of his friends.

LETTERS. Chase’s fascination for graffiti letters shines in his Art Fair piece. Juno Reyes/Rappler

Sa simula, naenganyo ako magsticker bombing then nagupgrade papunta sa grafitti tagging, ‘yung medyo mas nakakabigay ng adrenaline rush kapag kunwari magmimission ka sa gabi tapos hindi ka magpapahuli,” Chase shared.

(At the start, I liked sticker bombing then I upgraded to graffiti tagging, which gives you more of an adrenaline rush when, for example, you go on a mission at night and you try not to get caught.)

Art Fair Philippines 2024 will be held from February 16 to 18 at The Link in Makati City. – Rappler.com

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