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Art Fair PH: An ever-evolving hybrid

By SCOTT GARCEAU, The Philippine STAR Published Jan 22, 2024 10:48 am

For its 11th year, Art Fair Philippines still presents itself as an ever-evolving hybrid. As Art Fair Philippines stalwarts Trickie Lopa, Lisa Periquet, and Dindin Araneta take the stage of Raffles Long Bar in Makati to present the 2024 lineup, it’s clear that no particular theme will be encompassing this year’s edition.

But maybe that’s the point: decentralizing the art world. This year, as The Link, Art Fair’s multi-level parking lot exhibition hub in Makati is transformed into an art tapestry on four levels, there will be more foreign participation, more digital artists from abroad; but also more local galleries and spaces participating, and a growing focus on artist participation outside Metro Manila.

In other words, Art Fair just keeps on mutating—an unfurling entity that not even AI can pin down in real time.

Romanian artist Andreea Medar’s installation Leftovers from the Future

For instance, there’s Spanish artist Eugenio Ampudia’s interactive performance Be A Tree Now, in which viewers are digitally scanned, their movements transformed into living, moving trees in a commentary on our connection with nature and the threat of climate crisis. Romanian artist Andreea Medar’s installation Leftovers from the Future uses luminscent threads and plastic materials in a ghostly evocation of her grandparent’s “dying” village, its nostalgia, memories and history.

Digital art has a growing role this year, with David Gryn, head of frequent Art Fair participant Daata, being flown in for Art Fair Talks and to show his whimsical work, The Best Dressed Chicken (Manila Version).

Taloi Havini presents digital images of “coral sporing” in a commentary on colonialism (photo from Silverlens Galleries)
ArtFairPH/Projects Taloi Havini (photo from Silverlens Galleries)

Born in Arawa, Pacific Islander Taloi Havini’s digital murals, represented by Silverlens Gallery, depict the mating dance of “coral sporing” in a vivid commentary on colonialism, human rights and—almost incidentally—climate change.

And straight from Brooklyn comes Mr. Starcity, whose vibrant panels in One Pedal at a Time promise to jibe with the Filipino love of color and passion for art.

Brooklyn’s Mr. Starcity visits Art Fair
A local vibe 

Locally, this year’s ArtFairPH/Projects section, conceptualized by production designer and theater director Ed Lacson, presents works by renowned Filipino artists. Jigger Cruz showcases his most “mature” work yet in Dialectic Disruptions. Jonathan Ching’s They Think We Still Grant Wishes taps into the “monumental” nature of street art flowers, pets and our relation to the urban landscape through built-up canvases. Other local artists include most recent Karen H. Montinola (KHM) grant recipient Gean Brix Garcia, who joins past winners Pio Abad (2014), Mike Adrao (2015), Mac Valdezco (2016), Mark Valenzuela (2017), Alvin Zafra (2018), Liv Vinluan (2019), Carlo Villafuerte (2021), Melvin Guirhem (2022), and Faye Abantao (2023); a retrospective on Rod Paras-Perez; a selection of women modernists from 1969 to 1989, largely lost to art history (Pambabae); and a group of muralist painters mentored by Alfredo Esquillo Jr. and Renato Habulan.

ArtFairPH/Projects Gean Brix Garcia
Karen H. Montinola (KHM) Selection winner Gean Brix Garcia shows at ArtFairPH/Projects

Periquet agrees there is “a lot more foreign participation” this year. “It shows there’s a lot of global interest in what we do. And a lot of it is because they realize that we get a global audience.” After 10 years, foreign artists now routinely reach out to Art Fair PH organizers to find a Filipino audience.

Lopa adds, “We’re looking like a reliable, regional art fair already. If somebody wants to know what’s going on in Southeast Asia, not just the Philippines, we are looking like an accurate barometer.”

ArtFairPH/Projects Jigger Cruz
Jigger Cruz presents his latest, Dialectic Disruptions

But at the same time, says Araneta, “What sets us apart is we tap into a wider community. There’s a lot of presence from around the country now.”

Take the Tuklas art program mentored by Esquillo Jr. and Habulan from their Eskinita Art Farm in Tanauan, Batangas. Two massive murals by 22 artists are the result, with an aim toward raising money for healthcare, food and support, not to mention “decentralizing” Metro Manila’s stronghold as an art hub.

ArtFairPH|Projects Jonathan Ching presents They Think We Still Grant Wishes

Over at ArtFairPH/Incubators, Marina Cruz and Rodel Tapaya of Istorya Studios offer toys, games and print projects that help young Filipinos think about their roots. Cruz shows their latest Tagpo graphic story collection, with panels by Doktor Karayom, as a way to instruct grade school students and “pose questions” about Filipino identity and artistic creation. “It’s easy to post photos on Instagram or a story on TikTok,” says Cruz. “But when we challenge a visual artist to make a book, it excites them, and also scares them; it’s a very different kind of framework.”

Thus Art Fair PH puts a spotlight on Philippine visual arts, situating it as one of Southeast Asia’s most vibrant creative landscapes.

Tuklas art program mentors Esquillo Jr. and Habulan present two group murals by their featured artists.

 The country’s top galleries are joined by a wider roster of foreign galleries from Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, and more exhibitors from the Metaverse.

Sponsored by Don Papa Rum, this year’s selected ArtFairPH/Residencies artists are Mark Salvatus for Manila Observatory (Quezon City); Anna Miguel Cervantes for Linangan Art Residency (Alfonso, Cavite); Jett Ilagan for Emerging Islands (San Juan, La Union); Julian Tapales for Butanding Barrio (Puerto Princesa, Palawan); and Renz Baluyot for Orange Projects (Bacolod, Negros Occidental). Also two international artists have joined the residency program at Orange Project: Iseult Perrault and Petr Hajdyla. 

Derek Tumala’s A Warm Orange Coloured Liquid and Isaiah Cacnio’s Prismatic Embrace are publicly displayed for 10 Days of Art.

Art Fair PH partners again with the Ateneo Art Gallery to present ArtFairPH/Talks, including discussions on the intersections of art and science, photography as authorship, women in modern art, reading images from a historical perspective, among others. The Lopez Museum will give a demonstration on basic stretching, matting, canvas framing and artwork conservation.

For the ArtFairPH/Photo section, the sole exhibitor is FotomotoPH, a Manila-based organization of visionary photographers curators and writers, with a space curated by Sandra Palomar, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila.

Art Fairest of all: Trickie Lopa, Lisa Periquet and Dindin Araneta

ArtFairPH/Film presents No Showing, a project curated by filmmaker Moira Lang, that promises to be “an event as well as a concept, a festival not of screenings, but of conversations and music,” co-presented by Archivo Gallery in cooperation with Club Kino.

Don’t forget, there’s also 10 Days of Art with events around the Ayala Avenue area, including public works by Derek Tumala (A Warm Orange-Colored Liquid) at the Tower One Fountain area, and motion graphics artist Isaiah Cacnio’s video Prismatic Embrace at Green Wall of Ayala Triangle Garden Tower 2. (For schedule and updates, visit 

Along with visiting Daata head David Gryn, ArtFairPH/Digital focuses on MIlo Creese showing his AI work A Complicated Dance, the George Roxby Smith series Just Breathe, and video works by Jane Bustin.

NFTs will not be left behind, with CryptoArt PH, dedicated to empowering Filipino creators in the dynamic web3 space, showcasing local artists in the realm of NFTs and blockchain technology.

But sadly, AI couldn’t make it this year, because it was busy hallucinating.

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Purchase ArtFairPH 2024 tickets in advance at, or at the reception area at The Link from Feb. 16 to 18. Visit the Art Fair Philippines website and follow Art Fair Philippines on Instagram and Facebook.

 Art Fair Philippines 2024 is co-presented by AyalaLand, Bank of the Philippine Islands, and Globe, with a special project partner Don Papa Rum. Education Partner is the Ateneo Art Gallery. Exhibition Partners include LG Electronics, The Embassy of Spain in Manila, The British Council Philippines, Rhizome, and its official hotel partners are Fairmont and Raffles Makati, and Holiday Inn and Suites.