Artworks are beautiful objects that strike us in an emotional way. The experience when viewing at a remarkable piece of art is comparable to the rhapsody felt when a symphony orchestra performs its high finale or that natural high we get from grooving our way to a shindig or in a rowdy street dancing parade to the beat of deafening tribal drums.
But having to talk about art or even walking into art fairs and art galleries can be intimidating because for the longest time our local art scene has been packaged as an exclusive realm belonging only to the elite. Somehow, the recently held Art Fair Philippines broke this delusion and has allowed local spectators to see up close selected pieces created by intrepid Filipino artists who found their spot in the international contemporary art scene.
While most people find typical art exhibits staged in exclusive venues, congenial only to the sophisticated and culturally educated, the art fair was unconventionally set in a parking space of a commercial building in Makati where 24 influential galleries and art groups showcased outstanding pieces from which the local audience can easily identify and connect with.
As a regular traveler who has been exposed to our heritage and cultural icons, I found a surreal twist in the Ronald Ventura’s bulols and a familiar part of an urban streetscape in Dexter Fernandez’s wall art. As if intentionally made to be a showstopper, Gabby Barredo’s Asphalt pleasantly surprises spectators as they enter a darkroom to be mesmerized by the artist’s symphony of moving objects.
It is overwhelming to take in every beautiful piece in just one visit. But the one hundred pesos entrance fee cannot equal the fascination, bewilderment, and fixation I had that Friday afternoon with particular works of art.
A non-expert in art will immediately surrender in the masterful works of Romulo Olazo, Ramon Orlina and Jason Montinola.
While the exhibit proves no doubt of the unpredictability and progressive art practice of our local contemporary artists, timeless themes and folkloric colors we find in traditionally Filipino artworks are represented in the paintings of Mario de Rivera, Pablo Baens Santos, Don Salubayba and the great Onib Olmedo.
A work of art in itself is the way each participating gallery set their booth. Altro Mondo, Avellana Art Gallery, and The Drawing Room has put up casual yet tasteful settings that genuinely reflect the kind of atmosphere visitors and clients experienced when going into their actual galleries –unpretentious, relax, and most important of all friendly.
Moving around the art fair has been pleasurable because it lacked the usual come-on and sales pitch from the dealers and the chatter among collectors and gallerists of the who bought the what piece for the price of.
While I completely agree that art can never be for art’s sake alone because our artists need to survive for all kinds of art expressions to flourish. However, this idea developed into a common impression that art thrives on elitist grounds, that art is inaccessible and can be intimidating. Perhaps it is the commercial side and intellectual dimensions of art that scares off a lot of us into visiting art galleries and going to art fairs.
But we have to give it to the private art groups and generous collectors who made used of their resources and influence in promoting our local art to make it relevant and available for the public to see. To the organizers of Art Fair Philippines, thank you.
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