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Manila-based art gallery Silverlens to expand to New York in September

By NICK GARCIA Published Jul 21, 2022 2:38 pm

A Manila-based gallery that houses works of contemporary Southeast Asian artists will be expanding to New York City in September.

Silverlens, owned by Isa Lorenzo and Rachel Rillo, will be opening a 2,500 square-foot space with 20-foot ceilings in the neighborhood of Chelsea in Manhattan on Sept. 8.

Rillo said it's the "perfect moment" to expand to a "global art hub," as the past few years have since shown "strong demand" for Southeast Asian art in the United States.

For Lorenzo, they've considered opening a gallery in the city since 2004, but "felt invisible" then, thinking they're the "wrong gender, the wrong Asian, the wrong minority."

Despite that, Lorenzo and Rillo are hoping for the new gallery to broaden representation of Southeast Asian artists, and LGBT+ artists at that.

"We are Asian, we are Latin, we are American, we are brown, we are queer," Rillo said, "(and) there is energy here for us and we are thrilled to show our artists in the world’s biggest market."

Silverlens will inaugurate its new home with shows from Martha Atienza and Yee I-Lann, Filipino and Malaysian artists who, according to the gallery, are "working collaboratively with their island communities, embody the culture and energy that allow art to be made under the most difficult circumstances."

Martha Atienza, Tigpanalipod (the Protectors) 11°02'06.4"N 123°36’24.1”E, 2022 (film still)

Atienza, whose work utilizes installation and video to question issues about the Philippine environment, will pose the question, "Who owns the land? Who owns the sea?" using the Bantayan group of islands in Cebu as springboard.

YEE I-Lann, Measuring Project: Chapter 1, digital inkjet pigment print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper, 2021 (detail)

I-Lann—who since 2018 has been collaborating with weavers in the town of Keningau and the island of Pulau Omadal to make tikar or woven mats—aims to celebrate communities that are often at the peripheries, that give shape to the center.

Founded in 2004, Silverlens is among the leading contemporary art galleries in Southeast Asia. It aims "to place its artists within the broader framework of the contemporary art dialogue."