The annual event is pushing the envelope while returning from a detour on its 10th year, with new space arrangements, programs, and conversations surrounding art in all its forms.
This is an excerpt from Lifestyle Asia’s April 2023 Issue.
Nothing compares to that feeling of being back at home. The empty parking space at The Link in Makati was once again filled with a mixed crowd of artists, collectors, and art enthusiasts who waited for the most anticipated return of one of the largest art events in the country–the Art Fair Philippines which had its public run from February 17 to 19.
The online iterations of the fair in 2020 and 2021, and the hybrid set-up in 2022, are departures from the usual onsite presentation of the fair as a response to the pandemic. However, on its 10th installment, the organizers together with design firm Locsin and Partners intentionally veered away from its previous exhibition layout of a white cube and instead adopted a ‘biophilic’ design wherein the open spaces allow interactive areas for more people to connect.
“This year, for instance, we knew that the layout would be radically different from what we’ve done before, or even [with] what is [considered] conventional for an art fair. I fully expected not to please everybody with what we decided to do,” shares one of the fair’s triumvirate of founders Trickie Colayco Lopa in an exclusive interview with Lifestyle Asia along with her co-founders Geraldine “Dindin” Araneta, and Lisa Ongpin Periquet.
“We’ve received praise and plaudits but also complaints,” she admits. “But then again, pushing the envelope is something we’ve not shied away from.”
Araneta believes that the new layout of the space encouraged social interactions among the participating galleries and visitors who are enthused to reconnect with each other, more especially after in-person public events took hiatus during the pandemic.
“Perhaps another indication of success, but this is personal, is the introduction of a new exhibition design, the biophilic concept which was organic or free flowing rather than rectilinear,” says Araneta. “And at the same time it also allowed viewers to pause or rest from seeing art through the social spaces.”
One could easily get lost while navigating the multi-level fair and its new interior, but what could be more exciting than finding yourself staring and appreciating an artwork that resonated to you the most out of the hundred of art pieces displayed? As the organizers envisioned the exhibition space to be more flexible, it created a different kind of dynamism with the way the fairgoers experience the space and it’s the kind of disruption that leads to an unexpected discovery.
FURTHER OPENING UP TO NEW POSSIBILITIES
“We keep ourselves informed, aware, and up-to-date with global conversations and thus, this allows us to capture the zeitgeist, so to speak” says Lopa when asked about the recent inclusions in their roster of exhibitors, primarily ones that highlighted performances led by the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award Eisa Jocson who performed excerpts of her body of work and impromptu dances by Fifth Wall who donned Carl Jan Cruz designs. The medium of photography took centerstage through FotomotoPH and Tarzeer Pictures, among others.
For Periquet, the introduction of new sections in the fair is part of a conscious effort to stay in tune with the times. “Our crafting of the fair is always dynamic. We discuss and experience global artistic trends and evaluate our past efforts with a critical eye,” she says. There is always a conversation ongoing among the three of us about new ideas for the future while retaining those that have worked for us in the past.”
One of the many highlights of the fair was the ArtFairPH/ Residencies special exhibition featuring the works of the artists in residency from different partner institutions and art collectives in the regions. The residency, on its second edition, is a program that they want to further develop through partnerships.
According to Periquet, “the Residencies program is very exciting in that it addresses the artistic development of artists of all disciplines and it places the artist in an environment different to their usual one, in an effort to reflect, experiment with and discover new aspects to their art-making.”
Read more by purchasing a copy of the Lifestyle Asia April 2023 magazine via SariSari.shopping or select newsstands in National Bookstore and Fully Booked. Subscribe to the E-Magazine via Readly, Magzter, and Press Reader.
Photos courtesy of Art Fair Philippines. Banner Photo by Ariana Bongato (She Who Is Born Amidst the Froth, oil and acrylic on canvas).