A SCREENSHOT from Mark Inducil’s Epiphany.

AFTER one year online and another in a hybrid set up, Art Fair Philippines celebrates its 10th year with its return to The Link carpark in Makati City on Feb. 17 to 19.

Last year, the fair’s nine-day physical exhibition at the Ayala Triangle Gardens was visited by 18,000 people; while the online activities recorded 55,000 online visitors for the entire duration of the fair.

Art Fair Philippines began in 2013 with the goals of promoting the local art scene, giving support to Filipino art practitioners, expanding the local audience of visual arts, and making art accessible to everyone.

Art Fair Philippines founders Trickie Colayco-Lopa, Lisa Ongpin-Periquet, and Geraldine “Dindin” Araneta are proud of making it to the 10-year mark.

“I’ve said it so many times over the years, we set out to expand the audience for the visual arts, and I think we can rightly say we did it! We had 6,000 visitors in that first fair, in our last live edition [in 2020], we had close to 30,000 [visitors],” Ms. Lopa told BusinessWorld in an e-mail the founders wrote jointly.

“And I believe we spurred the development of a local art scene-slash-art ecosystem. On the commercial side, you now see the proliferation of various art events that have been patterned after Art Fair Philippines,” she added.

The art fair evolved from simply being a space to sell art to a complex enterprise involving curatorial inputs for special exhibitions, an educational program of talks, workshops, and demos, and discovering and injecting new art forms.

“Our efforts at crafting and re-crafting of the art fair space from year to year [come] with the aim of improving the viewing experience for our audience,” Ms. Periquet said in the e-mail.

“Sometimes I can’t believe that we are able to convert a car park into a temporary, alternative art exhibition space that is able to welcome and accommodate thousands of visitors,” Ms. Araneta said. “It has not been worry-free each year, but we have always managed to open as scheduled. This not only makes me proud, [but it also] makes me especially grateful.”

This year’s edition will feature a new biophilic design by Andy Locsin and his team at Leandro V. Locsin and Associates. It uses a concept wherein the occupant is reconnected to a natural environment with the use of direct and indirect nature.

“After the pandemic lockdown and now that we celebrate a decade, we thought it timely to move the fair forward by redesigning the space through organic or natural shapes, providing a slight departure from the white cube,” Ms. Araneta said. “This has created a flow which allows visitors to experience the fair differently, marked by discovery and exploration.”

Art Fair Philippines also introduces a new section, ArtFairPH/Digital, that focuses on digital media, work that incorporates and engages with computer technology, animation, virtual or augmented reality, the metaverse, and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs).

The section highlights two special exhibits featuring Filipino digital artists that are making waves in the global digital art sphere. New York-based Skye Nicolas presents “Frequencies of Nostalgia,” while Mark Inducil, who currently lives and works in Melbourne, mounts “Homecoming”. These special exhibits are curated by CryptoArtPH artists Bjorn Calleja and Jopet Arias.

The introduction of ArtFairPH/Digital, Ms. Lopa said, “comes after realizing that we have a sizable, vibrant crypto art scene here in the Philippines. And we do have digital artists earning recognition internationally.”

One highlight of the fair is ARTFAIRPH/PROJECTS which will showcase work commissioned especially for the fair from artists who have made an impact both critically and commercially. This year, Art Fair Philippines works once again with art consultant Norman Crisologo.

Located at The Link’s Roof Deck, artists mounting special exhibits — co-presented by banking giant BPI — include Faye Abantao, Kiko Escora, Mark Andy Garcia, Raymond Guevarra, Pow Martinez, Yeo Kaa, and Peter Zimmerman. “BPI sees the works of these talented artists not only as cultural expressions but also as art forms for investing in the future. Art is also a means to immortalize an idea that defines a generation. It is history in the making,” said Jenny Lacerna, BPI Product & Sales Head of Unsecured Lending and Cards.

Photographer Wawi Navarroza’s series of self-portraits, which also are featured in a current survey of Southeast Asian photography at the National Gallery of Singapore, come together in the exhibit As “Wild As We Come” for this year’s ArtFairPH/Photo section.

Other special projects include an exhibition by Indonesian artist Yunizar, “YUNIZAR: New Perspectives,” and works by German painter, sculptor, and object artist Peter Zimmerman. Pioneering female abstractionist, Rosario Bitanga’s old and new works are the focus of “Rosario Bitanga: Past, Present, Participant,” curated by architect and art consultant Miguel Rosales.

The art fair also pays tribute to the late gallerists Norma Liongoren (Liongoren Gallery) and Albert Avellana (Avellana ArtGallery), and will showcase the work of their galleries.

For the ArtFairPH/Residencies section, the fair will exhibit works from this year’s batch of artists who have completed artist residencies in various parts of the country: IC Jaucian at the Manila Observatory, Nicolei Gupit at the Linangan Art Residency, Aaron Kaiser Garcia at Emerging Islands, ESL Chen and Jonathan Baldonado at the Orange Project, and James Clar at Butanding Barrio. Launched in 2021 in partnership with Bleeding Heart Rum Corp., the makers of Don Papa Rum, ArtFairPH/Residencies is open to all Filipino artists across all disciplines.

Created in partnership with the Ateneo Art Gallery and the Museum Foundation of the Philippines, ArtFairPH/Talks will offer a variety of lectures, panel discussions, and artists talks.

ArtFairPH/Workshops this year focuses on digital art. Organized with educational partner Tezos and its Asian arm, TZAPAC, the workshops will discuss how to become a digital artist, and explain the local crypto art scene.

The Ateneo Art Gallery handles this year’s ArtFairPH/Film. The first night features Alternative Cinema: History, Theory and Practice, with filmmaker and film historian Nick Deocampo presenting an overview of the development of alternative cinema in the Philippines. The second night features a selection of lumbung/DOCUMENTA 15 films, co-organized with Resbak and Lost Frames.

This year’s fair will have 63 exhibitors from the Philippines and overseas.

The participating exhibitors from the Philippines are: 1335/Mabini, Anakbanwa Creative Residency Project, Art Cube, Art Elaan, Art for Space, Art Lounge Manila, Art Underground, Art Verité, Artery Art Space, Boston Art Gallery, CANVAS, Early Light, FIFTH WALL FEST, FotomotoPH, Galeria Paloma, Galerie Stephanie, Gravity Art Space, isTorya Studios, J Studio, Jes Aznar, Kaida Contemporary, KalawakanSpacetime, KANTINA, Kapitan Kulam, León Gallery, Lunang Mentoring Program, Mark Lewis Higgins, METRO Gallery, MONO8, Mugna Gallery + Foundation University DAFA, no space, Orange Project, Paint Bukog, Paseo Art Gallery, Pintô Art Museum, Qube Gallery, Secret Fresh Gallery, SILVERLENS, Sitting Room Studios, Sulyap Gallery by Tahanan Pottery, Super Duper Gallery, TARZEER PICTURES, The Crucible, Tom Epperson, TRIANGULUM, Tin-aw Art Projects, Village Art Gallery, White Walls Gallery, and Ysobel Art Gallery.

The foreign galleries include Art Agenda (Singapore and Jakarta), Artemis Art (Malaysia), Gallery Kogure (Japan), Kobayashi Gallery (Japan), Cayón (Spain), GALLERY SCENA (Japan), La Lanta Fine Art (Thailand), Nunu Fine Art (Taiwan), Gajah Gallery (Singapore), Vin Gallery (Vietnam), Yavuz Gallery (Singapore and Australia), and YOD Gallery (Japan).

Several art groups from the three main island clusters of the Philippines will also join the fair for a section that provides regional focus. These exhibitors are no Space (Luzon), Orange Project (Visayas) and Panit Bukog (Mindanao).

Complementing the fair is the 10 Days of Art initiative, running from Feb. 10 to 19. This is a series of events that celebrate art beyond the fair venue. Participants include galleries, museums, bars, restaurants, and retail establishments around the Makati Central Business District.

Gallery Weekend on Feb. 10 to 12 kicks off 10 Days of Art, with art fair visitors encourages to go and see gallery exhibitions at their respective locations. For schedules and updates, visit www.10daysofart.com.

“We’re pushing the Gallery Weekend as part of 10 Days of Art for the weekend before the fair. We saw how popular our gallery hop was in 2022, and we wanted to continue this effort,” Ms. Lopa said.

A regular day pass to the fair is P450. Tickets for students with valid IDs, senior citizens, and PWDs are P350. Makati students with valid IDs get a discounted price of P200 per ticket. Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.artfairphilippines.com. Tickets will also be available at the reception area for the duration of the event. For more information, visit the Art Fair Philippines website and follow Art Fair Philippines on Instagram (@artfairph) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/artfairph). Michelle Anne P. Soliman