Feb 19 2016

Photo Blog: Art Fair Philippines 2016

by Jennifer Baum Lagdameo

The fourth edition of Art Fair Philippines (AFP) (2/18–21) proved yet again to be a befitting representation of the country’s vibrant contemporary art scene, which is one of the fastest growing in Asia. The ever-expanding fair increased attendance by 60 percent from 2014 to 2015, and organizers hope to match these numbers this year as well. Similar to previous iterations, AFP has taken over The Link carpark, located in the heart of Makati’s central business district. It has transformed three levels of the garage into an exciting showcase for 40 galleries, which this year includes representation from Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan, in addition to the Philippines.

AFP—which always has a strong educational bent—has teamed up with the local Ateneo Art Gallery to feature a more comprehensive educational program than previous years. One level of the fair has been allocated to focus on their educational component, “ArtFairPh/Talks,” and features a space for daily talks on art history, art market and current practices in contemporary art. The fair also coincides with National Arts Month, and complimentary exhibits and tandem events are happening around the city till the end of February.

Throughout the main two levels of the fair, the “Special Exhibitions” section, a curated section of solo presentations featuring exciting local artists and their work, proves most memorable. Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, a Brisbane-based, Filipino husband-and-wife duo headline this area with their installation The Mabini Art Project (2016). A reference to the kitschy commercial artworks found in Manila’s tourist belt, the couple has transported the studio and shop of painter Antonio Calma, who they discovered on infamous Mabini Street, and examines his work in the context of an art fair. Also highlighted in the special exhibitions section is an epic video seascape from Dutch-Filipino multimedia artist Martha Atienza, and a large-scale seascape painting by Nona Garcia.

Also on view is the work of textile artist Raffy Napay, who turned to fabric and thread as mediums after experiencing respiratory problems with paint. His massive, thread-made family tree chart is an intricate and symbolic tapestry. Within this section, there is also a look at contemporary photography. A standout is a portrait series by At Maculangan—a renowned photographer in Manila—capturing the foley artists who were working on a project for the artist Paul Pfeiffer in Bangkok. Other solo presentations include: Mark Justiniani’s continuation of his “Infinity” series (2013– ), a grand installation re-creating a chamber-like structure that explores notions of space, time, light and depth; and a vast, green park-like space created by Pamela Yam Santos, which is a respite from the busy art fair and perhaps a reflection on the ever-dwindling greenery in the urban setting of Metro Manila.

ArtAsiaPacific visited Art Fair Philippines 2016 on its opening. Below are some highlights from the fair.

ALFREDO and ISABEL AQUILIZAN, The Mabini Project, 2016, Special Exhibitions. All photos by Jennifer Baum Lagdameo unless stated otherwise.
ALFREDO and ISABEL AQUILIZAN, The Mabini Project, 2016, Special Exhibitions. All photos by Jennifer Baum Lagdameo unless stated otherwise.