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10 things to do at Art Fair Philippines, virtual edition

By Susan A. De Guzman Published May 06, 2021 7:54 pm

The pandemic has driven Art Fair Philippines into a new space, but one that aims to expand rather than limit its scope in showcasing contemporary art.

In its first virtual edition since its inception in 2013, the art fair fittingly mines the brave new world of digital art—amped up to the next level—while still keeping to its ideal of being a platform for exhibiting and selling visual artworks from participating galleries.

There are myriads of ways to enjoy this year’s event, which runs from May 6 to 15.

These are just 10 of them:

1. Know what’s up in Philippine contemporary art.

Naomi Mendoza’s Unnatural, polymer clay, at J. Studio.

The art fair has been successful in showcasing the sheer diversity in Philippine art year after year, proven by the thousands of visitors who scour floor upon floor of exhibition space in its original car-park venue. For fine arts students looking for inspiration to collectors itching to add to their trove, this is the place to be even if virtually.

What makes up for not seeing the actual art is the ability to cover more ground without breaking a sweat. A simple click allows you to view what local artists have recently conjured, sure to merit such responses as “Is that art?”, “Amazing!” and “Why didn’t I think of that?”

 2. Immerse in the Metaverse.

The hype about this year’s fair is a possible future wherein artworks aren’t hung on the wall or placed on a pedestal but accessed on a gadget and paid for with virtual money.

Acquaint yourself with buzzwords such as non-fungible tokens or NFTs, crypto art and cryptocurrency and see if you can be part of this digital universe whether as a creator or a buyer.

One of the talks featuring an international panel should be most interesting. The topic: “NFT: A New Revolution or the Emperor’s New Clothes?” 

3. Explore art photography.

Photographer Ding Panganiban.

Paris-based Filipino photographer Ding Panganiban, through Art/n23, presents his ambrotype collodion process of developing photographs taken with a vintage camera and printed on glass. Remote portrait sessions will be conducted by Panganiban from his quarters in France.

 4. Learn a new skill.

There’s an array of activities for the artistically inclined under the Open Studios section. Bookmaking with Carina Santos (for ages 13 and up), a paid workshop, takes participants through the bookmaking process with materials provided in a kit. Pop Up Landscapes: Collage-Making Workshop with Jel Suarez (for ages 6 to 12) tackles basic paper engineering techniques to create pop-up collages using materials that can be found at home. For adults, there’s the Wet on Wet, Playing with Water(color) Demo by Claude Tayag.

 5. Go on artist-led art tours.

Moira Lang 

Even without pandemic restrictions, these tours would take time, effort and resources. But just sign up, kick back and you can take a close-up look at filmmaker Moira Lang’s art collection in her Baguio home. Lang’s collection is comprised of works by artists from Lucban, Negros Oriental and Baguio. The other tour is of visual artist Alfredo Esquillo’s new art space, Eskinita Art Farm, in Batangas which also serves as an artist residency and gallery space. 

6. Experience digital art.

Art fair organizers have teamed up with Daata, the leading platform for digital artworks, for specially commissioned pieces. Get lost in original digital pieces—a jumble of images, memes, animé and more—that, supposedly because of their high quality, can be streamed or downloaded on any device. Daata suggests how a digital collection can be built, curated and displayed without having to worry about additional costs for space, storage and security.

7. Have your say.

Art is overflowing with, listed among the features in this year’s fair. There are more exhibits in store here, discounts and promos with partner-establishments (virtual lesson in mixing cocktails, anyone?) and a chance to share your ideas on that all important issue – What is art? For the last one, make an image or a series of images and use the hashtag #10DaysOfArtPH and these will be shared on the social media pages of 10 Days of Art from May 6 to 15.

8. Score a Borlongan.

The art fair may just be where a collector can buy a Borlongan (and other in-demand artists) whose works are usually sold even before the paint has dried on the canvas. Borlongan’s untitled competition piece showing his trademark bald-headed man playing a violin while astride a rocking horse is being presented by CANVAS (Center for Art, New Ventures & Sustainable Development).

If your tastes lean more towards National Artists, the likes of esteemed masters such as Arturo Luz, Cesar Legapsi and Bencab are represented in The Crucible Gallery.

9. Or buy a Chagall, if you can afford it.

If money’s no object or you have cash to spare, this may just be where you can acquire an international name. Bangkok-based Lotus Asian Art, for instance, is offering prints by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol. Above is Chagall’s Le Coq Gris, a lithograph printed in colors.

10. Apply for an art residency.

For the first time, Art Fair Philippines is offering an artist residency program with five slots up for grabs. The program is open to all Filipino artists across all disciplines. Selection will be based on submitted portfolios, with the chosen artists to be paired with art spaces and galleries from different parts of the Philippines including the Manila Observatory in Quezon City, Linangan Art Residency in Alfonzo, Cavite, Emerging Islands in San Juan, La Union, The Orange Project in Bacolod, Negros Occidental, and Barrio Butanding in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

The resulting projects from these collaborations will be presented at Art Fair Philippines 2022 which, from the looks of it, is already a sure deal—pandemic or no pandemic.

For the detailed schedule of activities at Art Fair Philippines 2021, go to the website, or visit Instagram at @artfairph or Facebook at