Monday, February 27, 2017

A Look Back at Art Fair Philippines

Last February 16 to 19, Art Fair Philippines has once again colored the concrete alleys of the Link parking lot. 

Peppered with paintings and artworks in every corner from the metro’s top galleries, the carpark was a vivid display of what the Philippine art scene had to offer. Bright, bustling, filled to the brim and a little chaotic. 

Among the slew of galleries, Vinyl on Vinyl had a booth at the shoulder of the 6th floor. These were just some of the highlights:

Street artist, Dr. Karayom’s eccentric display was a hard one to miss, with two
massive peculiar creatures set against a screaming yellow backdrop with the words ‘Gusto ko ng tinapay’ bannered across and a piece of loaf nestled in between them. But despite the display’s comedy and quirk, underneath it lay a deeper meaning. Based on a bread from Quezon called Pinagong, which is an anagram for Panginoon, the piece was a social commentary on man’s relationship with God and our tendencies to place ourselves on a pedestal higher than Him. Nanay, tatay, gusto ko ng tinapay. Ate, kuya, gusto ko ng kape… On the other hand, the two creatures, with hands at the ready to play the familiar Filipino nursery rhyme, was a representation of man’s insatiable thirst for more; how bread, how faith, how God, never seems to be quite enough anymore.

At the corner of the booth, bursting through a crack in the ceiling was a pair of legs dangling from the waist down. Plenty ominous, yet strangely alluring, one can’t help but take a closer look. Dennis Bato’s piece was one with a dark narrative behind it. ‘Paglutang’ is a visual depiction of the light-headed feeling of depression, much like a man floating up into a dark and sinister cloud.

Moving on from the dark and the sinister to the comfort of a familiar memory, Pinky Urmaza brought a hint of disheveled nostalgia with her mixed media collages. Inspired by childhood memories and remnants of a life in hindsight, Urmaza burned, tore, and marked her way into breathing new life into objects once lost and discarded.

On the other end of the booth, the faint sound of music finds its way to curious ears. The source: a small television prompted on corner of the floor, showing a video of a record being painted by a man and his record player. The culprit: Gerry Tan. Armed with a bottle of paint, Tan maneuvers the pigments as the record spins on the player. The evidence hung on the wall. Nine records, all distinct from each other, rings of bright colors melting into each layer, showing that music can also be a feast for the eyes.

Renz Bautista on the other hand, surpasses his own demise in his ‘Last Masterpiece’. The 72-piece behemoth was made in the span of three months, with each piece done in a day. Each block display’s Bautista’s trademark: layers of color, texture, pattern and graphic elements melded together with realistic forms to create a chaotic fluidity. 

Speaking of behemoths, nothing gets quite as big as a collaboration between Manuel Ocampo and Jigger Cruz. The two juggernauts come together to create two pieces that are larger than life, pieces that melds together two generations and mixes the best of both styles.

Miguel Borja once again weaves his brushes to create a textured abstracted whiplash of paint and color. Inspired by what he found after mixing a few hues in his mixing palette, what came out were magnetic figures formed in pigment.

It can be said that all good things come in threes, and Reen Barrera’s ‘Oh la la’ pieces are no exception. Three dolls, meticulously handcrafted and carved from wood, rest on a shelf above three paintings, one to accompany each doll. Inspired by his father’s expression at points of either anger or amusement, ‘Oh la la’ is a colorful fantastical world with an imaginary set of genderless beings. 

These were just some of the highlights from what was a successful run at this year’s Art Fair Philippines. The Vinyl on Vinyl booth had everything from surreal sculptures to contemporary abstractions and featured 47 artists in total. A tough act to follow but a worthy undertaking for next year’s AFP.

Until then, see you at the gallery!