Coverage: Buffet of Contemporary Art: The Art Fair Philippines 2014

At the fair’s second year last February, the committee that organizes the Art Fair Philippines has once again gathered the different art galleries in the Manila art scene to primarily showcase Filipino works of art. This year, the fair has occupied two levels of The Link, a carpark in Makati City, which was also the venue a year ago.

It was a haven for art enthusiasts like me, because the experience exposes one to the art business, and the artworks themselves. Last year, I tried to veer away from the business aspect of the fair; I went there simply for the art. This time, I tried to immerse into both. As I looked through the variety of works of art, I also tried to overhear people discussing about these artworks. The experience made me remember that people also live and earn a living through this world of art – that there exists the art market.

Once again, the fair felt like a buffet of contemporary art. Because of the vast number of artworks showcased there, I could only breeze through the sections, and stop only at those that stirred something inside me.

Here are the six artworks, which stirred me inside the most:

1. Chinook by Norberto Roldan

At first glance, what’s striking with this artwork is the quote on one of the paintings in the diptych that says: “There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” It serves as a strong encouragement that life is beautiful because of the endless possibilities around us, and we should continue living it. It also emphasizes the fact that we are pilgrims in this world — that we have to continue moving forward. What makes me curious about the work is the fact that the painting of the quote was hanged side-by-side with a painting of Chinooks, among all other things in this world that roam “under the stars”.


2. I Dreamt I was Dreaming by Alab Pagarigan

I liked this artwork because simply, it is dreamy, and because paper cranes have special place in my heart. Through his work, the artist might be speaking about the gradual disintegration of our humanly form when we are dreaming — that we can transcend our earthly state, like any other boundary we can think of, and go beyond ourselves when we dream.


3. Madadayo by Ringo Bunoan

This installation by Ringo Bunoan also speaks about life as a journey. Around the boat are grayscale pictures of road islands around Makati City. Same as with these islands situated around cement roads, and “landlocked” boat, we too are locked into this journey in the world. In addition, employing the Japanese procedure for mending broken things with the use of gold, kintsugi (金継ぎ) or kintsukuroi (金繕い), on the boat, Bunoan may want to communicate to the viewer that the past experiences of brokenness will always stay with us in this journey; but they build us. It also shows that there is beauty in being broken, and in the process of mending ourselves back in one form.


4. Endings and No Endings by Ringo Bunoan

16 Endings and No Endings Ringo Bunoan

This installation is striking because it talks directly about one of the most feared topics about life – the end of things. Displaying a set of framed book pages with the words “The End”, the installation is heart-wrenching as it makes the viewer realize that there is an ending in everything, even life – through death.


5. Magritte by Igan D’Bayan

17 Magritte Igan DBayan

Igan D’Bayam transformed Rene Magritte’s “The Pilgrim” in a three-dimensional shape, bringing its surreal feel into a more alive form. D’Bayan, in his work, like the other artists in the fair and perhaps Magritte himself, must be highlighting humanity as pilgrims that walk in this world, and the inevitability of losing the self in this journey. I remember what one of my friends in college said before: it is in nothingness that we rise up and find ourselves again, tempering our understanding of the self and the world.


6. Series of Tableau Sculptures Depicting Alice in Wonderland Scenes by Daniel Dela Cruz

This series is everyone’s easy favorite because of its familiarity to the crowd. However, it’s not just that — with its familiarity comes its demand for the viewers to reminisce what we remember about the story, and upon remembering, the realization of having under-read the story when we were younger. The book contains treasures, which we might have only realize its truth when we get older — when we experience more on life. Along with the beautiful metal tableaux, the specific dialogues spoken at those exact scenes were displayed. The following were the most striking for me:

From “Which Way Do I Go”:

Alice Kingsley: Which road do I take?

Chesire Cat: Where do you want to go?

Alice Kingsley: I don’t really much care.

Chesire Cat: Then, it doesn’t really matter.

Chesire Cat: If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.

From “A Place Like No Other”:

The Mad Hatter: There is a place like no place on Earth – a land full of wonder, mystery and danger! Some say to survive it, you need to be as mad as a hatter.

The Mad Hatter: Which luckily I am.

The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?

Alice Kingsley: I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret: All the best people are.

All these artworks resound the reason why I love the arts – how a person, as tiny as one can be, relative to the entirety of humanity, may be able to communicate and connect to another tiny speck in this greater population, however distant and different they may be. manilaartscene_favicon

This blog post was archived from the creator’s blog Teal!, focusing on the artscape of Manila, is an offshoot of this blog.

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