Art Fair Philippines 2022: Exhibitions to See in Manila
Chati Coronel, Inner Constellation: 7h30pm (2021) (detail). Acrylic on canvas. 213.36 x 152.40 cm. Courtesy Silverlens.
After an unexpected delay, Art Fair Philippines returns this year (23 March–1 April 2022) for its 9th edition. With galleries closed around the city and the fair's location yet to be disclosed, Ocula Magazine presents the list of must-see exhibitions in Manila in the upcoming weeks.
Resonant Earth envisions the possibilities of contemporary ceramics through its modernist history, drawing inspiration from painter Fernando Zóbel de Ayala's 1961 essay about 'La Porcelanica', a porcelain company founded by his father, destroyed during World War II.
The only surviving work, a small dish blending European motifs with Japanese design, reflects the unique craftsmanship in the Philippines at the time, and served as the starting point for the exhibition, which invites three artists to respond to Ayala's essay.
In Hanna Pettyjohn's paintings, textured topographical and geological landscapes are flattened into two dimensions, inspired but deviating from the ceramic practice of her parents, known to have pioneered the medium in the Philippines.
Silverlens, 2263 Don Chino Roces
22 March–5 April 2022
For the last 25 years, New York based Filipino artist Renato Orara has been working on a series of greyscale ballpoint drawings, slowly transferring images of simple objects onto the blank page until the joined lines become imbued with presence.
Titled 'Ten Thousand Things that Breathe' (1989–ongoing), Orara's serial documentation of objects throughout time is akin to a persisting meditation, whereby past and present converge in the artist's fossilised archive, stripped of context and narrative.
Referencing the coexistence of meaning and its absence, ballpoint works like B 2778 E5 M5 1952 (The Critique of Practical Reason by Immanuel Kant) (2008), imbed a listening ear into the philosopher's inquiry into uncontestable knowledge.
Ronald L. Jeresano and Arnica Acantilado
Art Cube Gallery, Karrivin Plaza B 2/F
23 March–1 April 2022
Reality and artifice congregate in Ronald L. Jeresano and Arnica Acantilado's dual exhibition. While vastly different in style, both painters find common ground in the idea of construction and deconstruction.
In L. Jeresano's work, architectural structures, dwellings, and ruins stand in for trespassing, collapse, excess, and dispossession, where daily life confounds with illusion to express sentiments of errancy and alienation.
In oils on canvas like Precious as Gold (2013), gridded tiles and metal structures draw out the reclusive gesture of the boy in the foreground, caught between material realities and imaginative fictions.
Ligalig: Art in a Time of Threat and Turmoil
Ateneo Art Gallery, Ateneo de Manila University Arts Wing
14 August 2021–29 May 2022
Ligalig (turbulence) gathers the works of Filipino artists who fought the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship in the 1970s and 80s, whose works address issues like the infringement of basic human rights, government corruption, and extrajudicial killings.
Featuring documentary paintings in the style of social realism, works in Ligalig present diverse means of resistance, including video and poetics, as a reminder that freedoms of expression should be exercised, despite presiding social and political turbulence.
Art Fair Philippines, Art Cube Gallery
23 March–1 April 2022
Manny Garibay's striking figurations recount social and political divides and cultural life in the Philippines, narrated as tales of hope and desire that reflect the disenchantment with progress and religious belief following colonial rule.
At Art Fair Philippines, the line between visitor and visited are blurred in oils on canvas like the 2021 Dayo (foreigner), in which two nude figures rest on a sand beach, as a Spanish Manila galleon trade ship approaches in the horizon.
Intertwined: Transpacific, Transcultural Philippines
Ayala Museum, Dela Rosa St 3F
4 December 2021–31 December 2022
Retracing the transcultural inheritance of the Philippines, once a centre of maritime exchange, eight galleries at Ayala Museum present a thematic exploration of identity, agency, and colonial legacies across 240 artefacts and paintings.
In the first gallery, the oil on hardboard by Philippines born, Hispanic artist and Ayala Museum founder Fernando Zóbel, LA CARROZA I (1952–1953), illustrates the material and cultural entanglements brought on by international trade, through silverware and sunflowers.
Art Fair Philippines, J Studio
23 March–1 April 2022
With a focus on detail and craftsmanship, Norman Dreo's paintings, which double as relief sculptures, show swarms of people and objects gathered into visually overloaded scenes inspired by the buoyancy of Manila and the excesses of mass production.
Crowded compositions like the mix-media work Behind the Shadows (2021), show men wearing masks and hazard suits working on a Renaissance mural, while protruding fabrics and welded-steel frames in the foreground allude to the constructedness of the artwork.
Antony Chin: Trophy
Metropolitan Museum of Manila
Drawing attention to basketball's colonial history in the Philippines, Antony Chin's single-channel video, Trophy (2020), reframes the bodybuilding activity as a discipline entangled in nation-building and bureaucracy, stemming from a curriculum of imperial education.
For Trophy, shot at the American-established University of Philippines, Chin collected the sweat of basketball players from the Bagong Silang community, transmuted into salt, later made into a trophy base to express collective labour and tensions underlying 'victory'.
Cues from Life Itself
Metropolitan Museum of Manila
The group exhibition Cues from Life Itself looks at the ethics of art-making as a costly endeavour, drawing from Brenda Farjardo's notion of an 'aesthetics of poverty', whereby artists are urged to make works that are more sensitive to material deprivation.
This alternative sense of beauty finds expression in Kristoffer Adeña's Ghost Painting: Toldo Category (2015), a hand-stitched flag made from second-hand clothing sent as relief goods from donor countries and tarpaulin signages from local schools.
Celine Lee: The Brightest Part
MO_Space, 9th Av. Bonifacio High St 3F
2–27 March 2022
With an interest in scientific patterns, Filipino artist Celine Lee's conceptual engagement with visual perception and spatial recognition carries across mediums to reach beyond form and emphasise process and materiality.
Reflecting on the artwork's diminishing physicality in the digital age, The Brightest Part features photography, sculpture, and interplays of light in the gallery space, centering its exploration around the shadow as motif.
The Native Strain: Guillermo Tolerentino and Aurelio Alvero
Vargas Museum, Roxas Av. University of the Philippines
Held in the Vargas Museum's permanent collection, The Native Strain connects the nationalist sentiments of sculptor Guillermo Tolerentino with works from the Vargas collection, which were acquired by the Philippines' first Executive Secretary Jorge Vargas during the 1941 Japanese occupation.
The latter, which helped shape the 'Filipino' identity, cast light on the political dimensions of curation and museum-making, as embodiments of collective representation selected by the politician, who was later accused of collaborating with the imperial government. —[O]