1. I was at Art Fair Philippines for two days in a row. It was truly a different art fair, in many ways. The tasteful way in which it was put together met my expectations, and I think it is head and shoulders better than a certain art fair about which I wrote in 2011. I did not even bother going last year; it would have been a waste of my time. In fact, most of the galleries represented at Art Fair Philippines did not even bother showing up, given the disastrous 2011 show with the stunt of switching off the lights at the opening night, an act one gallerist likened to “giving earplugs at a rock concert.”
Fortunately, some people felt that it could be done better. Without the support of the same government agency that funded that art fair, a grant which I still feel was an absolute waste of taxpayer’s money, the team behind the Art in the Park project were able to pull off what I think is a most credible event. They learned from the mistakes of the past; for instance, they decided to make this an invite-only affair, rather than impose exorbitant participation fees. They were able to get strong private sector support and not entirely rely on the State’s cultural arms. (The sole exception was a side event organized by the Cultural Center of the Philippines, whose visual arts head is close to the community of galleries represented therein. It was a most enlightening talk about the art market, but it lacked stuff which is best kept off the record.)
Since they chose a good number of the decent galleries I know, the art on offer was quite remarkable. Manila Contemporary’s selections included Betsy Westerndorp’s skyscapes and Geraldine Javier’s recent work (on which I will speak about in a bit shortly). Elsewhere there was some interesting stuff, including a piece by Nona Garcia which is in a collection by another gallerist not represented here, and Mark Justiniani’s latest installation which plays on optical illusions of depth. But for me, this work by Dina Gadia at the Silverlens booth stood out:
This drew me almost immediately to it, because it turns out, as I was just informed, this was the painting that became this:
It was sold the day after I saw it. Hope the buyer’s a Shirley fan.
2. Meanwhile, this post on Philippine cinema deserves a re-reading because tomorrow is the late author’s birthday. To mark that occasion, Rock Ed Philippines will screen a film that I believe is a prime candidate for this wish’s fulfillment:
“I wish someone, anyone, would make a good, thought-provoking film about the Philippine upper class.”
Tomorrow, at one of that film’s locations, Route 196, the film will be screened at around 8 PM.
3. Finally, the Unvirtuous Abbey recommends that instead of giving up something for Lent, one could take something on. One such thing is an appreciation for art, learning to see how human creativity works and how it participates in divine creativity, no matter how fallen it has become, because it too was redeemed. On Ash Wednesday, Geraldine Javier’s new show opens at the Vargas Museum at around 4 PM, with a talk before that at 2 PM. On the first Friday of Lent, Yason Banal’s show for End Frame opens at the CCP at 6 PM.
Have a good week, and for those who will observe it, have a happy and holy Lent.