The biggest achievement of Art Fair PH in its tenth year


This February marks the fair’s tenth year. Organizer Trickie Lopa takes a look back at how it all began and what was achieved

ANCX Crew | January 27, 2023

People have a love-hate relationship with The Link every time it turns into an art market every February. Some art observers appreciate the site for its convenience; Others complain about the lack of elevators, air conditioning and parking.

People still show up. And they’ve been popping up since 2013, when the three ladies of the Museums Foundation of the Philippines: Tricky Lupa, Dendin Araneta, and Lisa Birkett, exhibited what would become the country’s largest annual art event.

Art Gallery of the Philippines
The Art Fair of the Philippines returns to The Link for its tenth year. Photo courtesy of Jojo Gloria

Art Fair Philippines is gearing up for its 10th edition in February, and Lopa recently shared her recollections with ANCX about initially putting everything together, specifically finding the perfect venue for such an ambitious work, one that was clearly inspired by the mega art fairs in the area. Luba said the ladies know they want a central location — easily accessible to many, “a place you can just go.” “Where can you come at lunch?”

kilo anchor
Kilo Escora whose works are portraits of modern society and social beings is part of an exhibition curated by Norman Chrysologou.
Mark Andy Garcia
Marc Andy Garcia, who paints expressive landscapes, is part of the Projects Gallery.

The three were at the time working with Ayala Land and looking at options from its list of properties. Retrieved by Luba: “It was Fernando Zobel who suggested ‘Why don’t you visit that parking lot?'” It’s kind of new, with nice bathrooms. Look at him. And that’s what they did. And they saw the possibilities. And just to underscore their hunch, they invited famed architect Andy Locsin to survey the space. “Oh, that sure is practical!” And so it all began. For the interiors, they had the extra help of international design superstar Kenneth Kubonpyo.

Raymond Guevara
Raymond Guevara works with mixed media and is known for his boxes of pop culture toys from the ’90s.

On February 1, the gallery had 24 galleries for each of the floors it occupied, which included all of Manila’s first-class art spaces. “We had 6,000 visitors that first year and we were really very happy,” Luba said, laughing at the anniversary. “It means we can take another year, and that’s pretty much the way it has been.”

Bao Martinez
Pow Martinez’s hilarious, quirky, and colorful commentary on urban life and society is expected to appear in the Projects section.

There is no doubt that the art gallery audience has grown over the years. The highest turnout was in 2017, at 40,000 visitors, which, judging by Luba’s reaction, was already quite overwhelming. In 2020, their last live event before the pandemic, the show reached a more manageable 30,000 visitors.

yo ka
Yeo Kaa is known for its bright and colorful animated palettes that have an undercurrent of violence and darkness

Lopa is proud of these numbers. For her they represent the results the show wanted to achieve from the start. When asked what she thinks of Art Fair Philippines’ influence on the local contemporary art scene, Lopa told ANCX: “I think something we set out to do and I think we’ve really accomplished is broaden the audience for contemporary art. That was really our goal.”

Rosario offers
Rosario Pitanga, whose work has enjoyed a resurgence, is also a featured artist in the three-day exhibition.

“When we started it 10 years ago, if you remember, there were art galleries in Hong Kong and Singapore, which are still the biggest art galleries in Asia, that always had Filipino artists and galleries showing there. At the time, I felt a little bit sorry that the public The Filipino doesn’t know these artists, and that’s what we really set out to do. We always remind ourselves that our goal is to broaden the audience for contemporary artists and I think our numbers prove that.”

Wow Navarroza
Wow Navarroza’s eye-catching self-portraits are the stars of this year’s photography section.

This year’s Art of the Philippines takes place from February 17-19, featured at The Link at the Ayala Centre, following last year’s outdoor incarnation at the Ayala Stock Exchange. To find out what to expect, click this link.

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