note: a version of this was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Arts and Books section, 20 September 2010.
After last year it was difficult not to look forward to ManilArt 2010. Last year meant drinks and music, a whole lot of camaraderie, a certain high to having such a huge event for Philippine art happen. This year, while the art was there in fantastic display, there seemed to be an amount of distance between art and people. Maybe there just wasn’t a lot of rock ‘n’ roll.
The distance of Manila Art
This year Manila Art was celebrated at the Mall of Asia, making it literally inaccessible. This year too, it went all out in creating a fancy opening night, which meant making it an ultra-formal affair, a nice dress and heels not good enough. The set-up of a red carpet and a ManilArt backdrop by the entrance of the conference hall is telling of who it is that Manila Art wanted to cater to. Obviously this is reason enough for many other people to stay away.
As there were many reasons to leave earlier than expected. One of which was the fact that food and drinks ran out (and yes, plates and utensils did too!), a far cry from last year’s Chef Laudico. And even if they didn’t run out, there weren’t a lot of trays going around, and staying within the gallery booths meant not getting any food at all. The food was fantastic mind you, but very few of us got to much of it. Oh and the heat! Between hunger and the failure of air conditioning, it was enough reason to leave.
title=”ManilArt2010_Anton Balao_Study A_at 1of gallery” src=”http://radikalchick.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/ManilArt2010_Anton-Balao_Study-A_at-1of-gallery-225×300.jpg” alt=”” width=”225″ height=”300″ />They did give away prizes, which are usually a reason to stay, but the sound system was so bad that winners couldn’t hear their names being called. By the time I got Farley del Rosario from one end of the room to the stage, they had picked out another name already. Now that was no fun at all.
The greatness of Manila Art
But of course the point here was the art and this was an infinitely bigger showcase than last year’s. Gladly there were plenty of sculptures and installations, and the less familiar names were finally exhibited in what we imagine is the biggest art fair in the country.
Art Informal had Pancho Villanueva’s paintings, Riel Jaramillo Hilario’s sculpture and Pamela Yan-Santos’ installation “Pipe Line”. 1/of Gallery had one Juan Sajid Imao sculpture and paintings by Jomike Tejido and Anton Balao. Joe Datuin’s “Cosmic Rings” and Piyapong Wantanalert’s “Arowana” sculptures were the centerpieces of the Quattrocento booth, which did outshine if not outsize the paintings in the space. The same goes for Art Verite’s booth which exhibited Gabriel Barredo’s mixed media sculptures “Tree of Life” and “Prosperity 1”, the grandeur of which made it difficult to ignore even when it was actually small in size.
The newest of them all
Gino Tioseco though, solo exhibitor, would take the cake as far as exhibiting new-ness was concerned. Working full time as an artist, and not represented by a gallery, Tioseco had his own booth exhibiting his latest works, all of which were self-portraits. The possibility that this would be boring or repetitive is disrupted by difference: each portrait is rendered in a different color, in various versions of fading into the background, each portrait a seemingslow, easy and expected loss of the face that makes the portrait.
In many ways, as the magnitude of the art inManilArt 2010 sank in, one can forget the lost prize, the missing food, and the heat at this MOA SMX conference hall. Art, apparently, can do all this, too.