I guess I’ve kind of said my piece over here on Young Star, but I also wanted to share some photos I took of the work, and maybe talk a bit about some stuff I liked, because I did enjoy seeing some pieces over at the Art Fair, all things considered. I guess you can’t really divorce critique from events like this, at the end of the day, but even though I expressed feelings of disappointment, it’s not something I really want to super get into. I don’t like confrontation, and everyone’s free to think whatever they want to think, and you don’t have to tell me if you disagree with me. I mean, you can… but I’d rather not get into it.
AFP started out as a sort of breakaway group from ManilArt, mostly focused on galleries that show more contemporary work by local artists. I mean, that’s as plainly as I can put it. I think that the focus this year was really on foot traffic; and maybe I’m wrong, but that’s how it felt like to me. The emphasis seemed to be more on getting more people to come to the fair this year. And maybe I shouldn’t have expected more from an art fair, but you know. I think I’m really a little too optimistic sometimes.
Anyway, like I said, I’m not going to get into it.
I realized when I was editing and resizing the photos that I forgot to take photos of a lot of pieces that I enjoyed. This isn’t going to be a definitive list of favorites or anything like that. I don’t really know what I want to do with this post, to be honest. I just realized that I’ve been taking photos of shows but I never post them, and it’s kind of a missed opportunity for documenting. Incomplete as it may be.
Also, I don’t want to posture as some kind of authority on art. Obviously, I’m not. I just have a lot of opinions, I guess. I think everyone has a lot of strong biases and preferences, and I don’t know. That’s okay. Plurality exists for a reason, after all.
LOL THIS WAS SO FRAKKING LONG FOR SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T WANT TO GET INTO IT. Ahem.
For this year’s AFP, I was fortunate enough to have shown some work with two galleries, West Gallery (which, full discretion, is owned by my parents) and Mo_Space, and I also helped make a special Art Fair PH magazine with The Philippine Star. Which I’m also choosing not to get into.
I’m going to talk a bit about some of the pieces I liked this year (again, incomplete), to which I’m probably going to add some more over the next week. Since I didn’t bring my camera with me every day that I was there, and they changed the displays a lot. And… it’s probably going to get wordy in here.
But to start:
Juan Alcazaren’s Praxlab Project #1 (After Chabet’s Labyrinth)
I guess this is one of those pieces where context plays a pretty big role in how you look at it. Roberto Chabet’s Labyrinth was his last solo exhibit before he passed away in 2013. He based it on the myth of Minos and Ariadne, presenting the labyrinth as a “sacred space, which we enter in order to experience the epiphanies.” Alcazaren reconstructs and reinterprets Chabet’s massive installation on a smaller scale with different materials, in what appears to be an homage to his late teacher.
On its own, it’s a little breathtaking, despite being saturated with so much other art. I’ve always loved Alcazaren’s work, and I’ve seen bits and pieces of this series in the form of wall-bound sections—which I’d admired already—so seeing it manifested in this form was truly a spectacular experience, personally.
Martha Atienza’s Fair Isle 59°41’20.0”N 2°36’23.0”W”
My introduction to Martha Atienza’s work was her piece for Silverlens last year, a similar slow motion video of the Atlantic Ocean called “Newfoundland N 47°9’35.424″W 49°55’18.75″.” Even on a much smaller wall, that slow roll of water was mesmerizing, so it’s no surprise that this one, Fair Isle 59°41’20.0”N 2°36’23.0”W” really drew in crowds. A wide expanse of water is shown on over 70 screens, stacked on top of each other, eliciting a feeling, a jolt of displacement and distance, an unnerving feeling that you are not quite where are or where you ought to be.
The slowness of the waves gave me a feeling that I mistook for calm, but I found myself thinking a little about drowning, and being in the middle of nowhere—an island from where there is no escape.
And when you look at it long enough, you’ll notice something erratic and unnatural in the motion in the waves.
Nona Garcia’s Before the Sky
Nona Garcia’s “skyscape” is something like a companion piece to the massive seascape she made in 2012 called Before the Sea, which she deliberately made to take up the entire expanse of the wall on which it was shown. Before the Sky mirrors the dimensions of the work—6 x 20 feet—but rests on a slight curve that allows it to stand on its own.
If you’re familiar with Garcia’s work, you’d know that her expression relies on her ability to make something appear as real and as closely as possible to the image on which she bases on work on. The enormity of the work lends to the effect of being engulfed in something that appears to be real but isn’t.
“And by maintaining that yes, there is an absolute finality to a piece of artwork we can then ask: Where do we find it? Is it in the painting? In its print? Or is it the room itself or its maquette? Or does it encompass everything that we see before us—the sea, the representation of the sea, the photograph of the painting, the structure, or the representation of the structure? Whereas prior to that there was only the machine of process, cranked and grinding with an undesired end, letting all the other variables fall into place: image, space, and even the sound of these words: Once, a room was built to occupy itself, the open sea, the horizon, that little corner of the world.” — from her notes for Before the Sea
Mo_Space’s Objects, Paintings, Sculptures
I was fortunate enough to be invited to show alongside many of my personal art heroes for Mo_Space’s booth, in a show called Objects, Paintings, Sculptures. As you can imagine, I was extremely excited (which is a mild-mannered way of putting how I really felt on the inside, haha). The whole roster includes Yasmin Sison, Nilo Ilarde, Cristina Quisumbing Ramilo, Kawayan de Guia, and Monica Delgado. We all created objects on tables, except for Monica Delgado, who adorned Mo’s walls with her structural paint work. Anyway, I’ve always been interested in art as objects, sculptures, and installation—personally drawn to tactility and texture.
Yasmin Sison — this is almost an extension of her last show in Finale, where she made similar pieces of tiny furniture, which she used as the subjects for her 12 x 9-inch paintings for West Gallery’s 12×9 show for this year’s Art Fair.
Cristina Quisumbing Ramilo — as a slight twist to the exhibit brief, Quisumbing Ramilo opted to craft her table, turning it into a sprawling forest of pencils, a beautiful topography beneath towers and vitrines.
Carina Santos — this was my work. I wanted to do something with my photography, so I had some of them printed on sheets of acrylic. The series is called A Crack in Everything, which I shamelessly took from a Leonard Cohen song called “Anthem.” I did actually manage to squeeze in a few One Direction indirects over there; up to you if you think I lie.
Ian Carlo Jaucian’s Drawing Space from Time
IC Jaucian’s work is always thoughtful, a full-on exploration of an idea rather than just simple visual expression, which I admire. Drawing Space from Time plays on the idea that time passes faster when you pay attention to it, and Jaucian has rigged these clocks to respond to a sensor that activates when a viewer steps closer to it. Even though it’s a pretty simple way to present the idea, it’s clear, and also the work itself is visually appealing to me.
Felix Bacolor’s exhibit at Galleria Duemila
I think this is an extension of Bacolor’s solo show, aslo with Galleria Duemila some time last year, called Studies for a Monument, where he also used pigs as a means to deliver social and political commentary. Specifically, I think, about our own political
hellhole landscape. Bacolor is one of my favorite artists, too. I really enjoyed another piece of his on display at Art Informal: a video of a flame being blown about whenever a moving fan turns in its direction:
Mark Justiniani’s Allegoria
Based on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, this was a piece I was instantly drawn to. Although Justiniani’s work is always visually arresting, there’s just something about a bare-bones tunnel, dimly lit, that stretches out—and curves—into an unseen space.
Okay, I think I’m done talking. Under the cut, I have a bunch of other work I really enjoyed:
Chati Coronel — I was kind of really lucky to have caught this piece before it left the building! (It was part of the first hanging of Silverlens.) I love Chati Coronel’s paintings; there’s just something about them. I’m going to try to articulate myself better some time in the future, haha. But let’s just say I love this painting a lot.
Bernardo Pacquing — again, one of my favorite artists… forever. I can’t even explain. I love him so much I asked for a selfie. LOL. Anyway, he has a way with color and abstraction that I have oft attempted but never quite managed to pull off.
This was another painting of his that I managed to catch on one of the third day of the fair, I think:
Allan Balisi at Blanc
I didn’t catch that piece of his that I saw as a preview (I think it’s called Against), but I always enjoy his work, and this one’s no exception. Like Chati Coronel’s paintings, there’s something about his brushwork that makes me, um. ~Feel Something~, to be trite about it.
Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan at Nunu Fine Art
Two Chabets at artbooks.ph + artbooks.ph
I usually avoid this booth because I end up wanting to buy everything. If you’re in the mood to look at local art pubs, visit them at Pioneer Studios, along Pioneer Street, Mandaluyong City or online at artbooks.ph.
Raffy Napay’s Family and Secret Lovers Night
Cristina Quisumbing Ramilo (sandpaper), Alfredo Aquilizan (painting)
Jel Suarez at Vinyl on Vinyl
Kiri Dalena at 1335MABINI
Vic Balanon at TAKSU
Anyway. This has been way too long but also not even close to being complete. I don’t know. I think art fairs both exhilarate me and stress me out. I’m likely going to be back with more wordiness. But I hope this post made sense. I’m going to try and make it a point to be updated with art stuff. For me and for you and for everyone who ever wanted to get more involved but didn’t know how to be. RAMBLE RAMBLE, BYE.