Books & Art

Art Fair Philippines 2019: An Exclusive First Look from a Trained Eye 

Consider this a handbook and a cheat sheet courtesy of a cultivated mind and a polished sensibility.

As we elbowed our way through the vernissage crowd at this year’s Art Fair Philippines, we gently nudged a notable art historian and collector—who, as expected of those with real knowledge and wherewithal, insisted firmly on anonymity—and asked them what pieces they thought were worth seeing.   

Tough question, of course, and the highlights they quietly shared with us, by surreptitious whisper and by phone camera, proved that the question only gets tougher year after year. But it was comforting to see the classic and the new, the large and the small, and the existential and the political, jostle against each other in a space that has expanded along with—one hopes—the average art fiend’s middle-class consciousness.   

There will be more and more discoveries, of course, as the Art Fair progresses, but consider this a first look at things to come, a handbook and a cheat sheet, courtesy of a cultivated mind and a polished sensibility.         

1| Flipbooks by Poklong Anading and Vic Balanon at MO Space demand the human eye and touch.         


2| This huge work by Alwin Reamillo at YOD Gallery shows incisive political comment in its every detail.         


3| Ray Albano’s posters gathered from CCP exhibitions from the '70s and '80s provide heady perspective on the Philippine art scene. Behind the showcase is an interactive installation one is cautioned not to miss—it won a prize at a Print Biennale in Japan.       

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4| On Level 5, a library of wooden books by Ling Quisumbing Ramilo graces a wall and speaks mute volumes.       


5| While Ryan Villamael’s disconcerting city, on the same level, throws one’s sense of mental and emotional perspective into disarray. 


6| Alvin Zafra’s etchings on sandpaper using white stones gathered from the site of Marcos’s burial monument at the LIbingan ng mga Bayani deliver mute and muscular testimony.   


7| Poklong Anading’s celebrated Anonymity series at 1335 Mabini explores the idea of identity and our relationship with urban species. 


8| Another of Anading’s works at 1335 Mabini demonstrates the performative aspects of drawing.       


9| Also at 1335 Mabini, a piece by Cyan Dayrit that explores colonial history and national identity…   


10| …while Jill Paz does a take on Philippine Art History using the unconventional medium of corrugated cardboard.   


11| A cyanotype by Neal Oshima gathers the diaphanous, the ephemeral, and the permanent—in a single flash.   


12| …while Kawayan de Guia’s cyanotypes at the Silverlens Gallery booth explores the edges of image and reality.     


13| Also at Silverlens, one of Santiago Bose’s elusive and captivating aggregation of images.     

14| MM Yu’s photographs of everyday objects take the mundane and fascinatingly subsume it further into an everyday setting. 


15| A cardboard boat by husband-and-wife stalwarts Alfredo and Isabel Aqulizan explores the tides of space and time. 


More Art Fair Philippines: Olivia d'Aboville's Plastic Fantasies

More Art Fair Philippines: Tom Epperson's Everyday Stills

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Sarge Lacuesta
Editor at Large, Esquire Philippines
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