In the 1970s, American artist Donald Judd, who’s mostly identified with the minimalist art movement, left his five-story SoHo studio/home in New York for Marfa, Texas way before it was the art haven it is now. Judd, who felt trapped by SoHo’s increasing gentrification and commercialization, said he chose Marfa because “it’s easier to think out here because you’re not so busy.” He would later work on landmark permanent installations in the city like the aluminum boxes entitled “100 Untitled Works in Mill Aluminum” and monumental “15 Untitled Works in Concrete”.
The allure of the countryside, far from the noise of the city has always attracted artists since the very conception and formalization of art—think Van Gogh moving to Provence in the South of France.
Filipino artists as well, felt compelled to set roots outside of the pulsing capital Manila—others to embrace their local of origin even like the Aquilizans in Los Baños. Recent examples are the rise of art galleries outside (but not too far out) Manila like Pinto Gallery in Antipolo and Art Sector in Binangonan, Rizal.
But even this kind of patronage towards the Luzon-centric art scene neglects the established creative communities in Visayas and Mindanao. Cebu and Dumaguete, for example, are making a reputation for its regional representation of art and subversion of the gallery format.
This year at Art Fair Philippines, much focus is also paid to these regional galleries. “We want to break new ground always,” says Art Fair Philippines co-founder Lisa Periquet in an interview with Inquirer. “We push the boundaries and seek out new things. We’re not just going to get what’s comfortable, we’re looking for things that will be a bit different.”
In anticipation of this year’s Art Fair, here are some unmissable regional galleries that will be participating from Feb. 21-23 at The Link.
The n23 in this gallery’s name stands for the 23rd parallel north of the equatorial latitude commonly known as the Tropic of Cancer, a geographical landmark that influences their choice of works to represent: those from the tropical zones.
Based in Dumaguete and Brussels, Belgium, most of the artists under their management are those working in the context of the environment, society and history.
art/n23 will be part of Art Fair Philippines’ newest platform called Incubator, which will feature creative spaces outside of the conventional gallery format.
Dubbed as an all-Bisaya artists exhibit space, Giatay will be showcasing over 20 Cebuano artists at the Level 5 of The Link part of the Incubators project. These include different media from film to photography and paintings by prolific upcoming and established artists who have not only made a name for themselves in the Visayas but also abroad, like Boholano artist Emmanuel Migrino who is based in New York.
The group exhibition curated by Kaloy Olivades, Jun Sabayton and Jan Sunday explores the various concepts, connotations, experiences and emotions encompassed by that single colloquial expression so often used in various Bisaya cultures and languages: “giatay.” The Cebuano expression, which literally translates as “to be livered” pertaining to pestilence originally affecting chickens is also used to refer to people who come into our lives like a plague.
Founded by artist Maria Taniguchi’s mother Kitty Taniguchi, Mariyah Gallery has been established as a pioneering art platform in Dumaguete as early as 1992.
Apart from championing Negros’ art of pottery, the gallery also has a residency program for artists in the region working with different media. The premises of the gallery surrounded by nature also serves as the residence of Taniguchi and her sibling sculptor Danni Sollesta.
Mariyah Gallery (Booth 42) is located at Level 6 of The Link.
The Negros-based art gallery presents Istorya, a group exhibit/“visual anthology” by six women Negrense artists. Each piece offers commentary on their community and what it means to be an Illongo woman. Karina Broce Gonzaga’s “Kabalaslan Series,” for example, shows multicolored resin pots and signposts saying, “Selfless Service,” “Libre Utang” and “Come in Where Open,” a depiction of the selfless work the women owners of carinderias put into feeding their community—even those who are unable to pay.
Orange Project is at Booth 77.
Header photo courtesy of Mariyah Gallery “My Sister is a Bird” by Kitty Taniguchi 2008
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Writer: CHRISTIAN SAN JOSE