by CHRISTINE JANINE T. CORTEZ and THERIZ LIZEL R. SILVANO
THOUGHT-PROVOKING pieces were exhibited in the sixth year of the highly anticipated Art Fair held from Feb. 22 to 24 at The Link in Ayala Center, Makati City. With its aim to promote the best of contemporary art, the event highlighted diversity through exhibiting interactive art, photographs, sculptures, videos, paintings, and ceramic art.
This year, the exhibits were spread over five floors to accommodate a bigger audience, making the galleries and artworks, both local and international, more exciting for the public.
Two hundred “heads” made of organic materials and coconut shells rendered the viewers wide-eyed in Oscar Villamiel’s Cheap Medicine. It is a thrilling installation where the heads are laughing out of dark malice. It signifies ineffective leaders who seek power to continue their transgressions. The piece serves as a wake-up call in light of the upcoming elections in May.
An artwork curated to speak for itself, Catch of the day, is a timely and realistic representation of polluted bodies of water swamped by its most vicious adversary: plastic. The striking wall of shame was comprised of real monofilament fishing nets, soft plastics, and polyester threads to illustrate the crucial state of marine life. French-Filipino Artist Olivia d’Aboville turned the earth’s topmost enemy into an artwork worthy of praise.
The deep sea has always been dark and mysterious. Beneath its surface, there are hidden features that cannot be seen by the naked eye but can be felt through a heartbeat. This is reflected in Sid Natividad’s The Sanctuary, a canvas that portrays the artist’s experiences as a free diver. The artwork’s strength is that it is lifelike. Thus, the viewers can feel what it is like to be underwater and hold their breaths for a few seconds. In this piece, the sea is a safe haven where people can find tranquility.
Bearing true to life meanings, One Big Dinner is a poignant interpretation of the nation’s economic conundrums expressed by artist Jojit Solano. The obese characters pertain to power-hungry politicians conspiring to take over the country. Meanwhile, the banquet set imitates the classic painting of The Last Supper to symbolize the crooked.
In Jerson Samson’s Searching for the Meaning of Life, the subject aches to discover himself. The typewriter and the characters all over the subject embody that writing is one of the best ways to determine the meaning of life. It is a sculpture that enables the crowd to appreciate the importance of their own existence.
Another work from Samson is Multo ng Nakaraan II, a painting that shares resemblances with Edvard Munch’s iconic modern artwork, The Scream. Just hearing the title of the piece instantly evokes familiarity with a common Filipino term that is used to describe undesirable experiences that continue to bother a person in the present. The strong expression of the ghost depicts the dreadful feeling of being haunted by the things people are not proud of themselves for doing.
Inspired by the mythical figures from Ramayana, a known Indian epic, is Jirapat Tatsanasomboon’s piece that addresses the conflicts between the cultural beliefs of the East and West. His piece Leave Me Alone 2 – After Michaelangelo presents the connection between the East and West’s cultures and civilizations. It displays how cultural and personal heritage affect the way people interpret imagery.
Stepping into Anton del Castillo’s solo exhibit titled Inferno is an experience that is one for the books. One of its highlights includes a sculpture, Do Not Drag Me to Hell, that shows a naked man and woman wearing gas masks, with the man pulling down the struggling woman into hell with him. Overall, each piece of del Castillo’s collection, including this one, embodies an allegorical representation of sins that are committed chiefly by humans.
Once again, the artists doubled the thrill of the event by presenting an exceptional art scene and making the unthinkable happen. Each piece exhibited had its own unique personality that came with the influence of modern and contemporary art. The fair was not meant merely to entice the crowd or sell artworks; they were there for a purpose, and that is to foster a community that genuinely supports Filipino artists and the local art scene. F