9 Artists To Look Out For At This Year's Art Fair PH
Neal Oshima has spent more than four decades photographing indigenous tribes and traditions, tapping the capacity of the medium as a data-gathering tool to examine culture. A prolific photographer whose body of work encompasses advertising, editorial, and documentary photography, Oshima upholds the belief that cultural practices are revealed through the nuances of a photograph.
Oshima’s show consists of the tribes of Bukidnon, Batanes, and Cotabato, all Austronesians, all kin. It is a visual tribute to tribes, across places and across generations, encountered through one man’s lens.
Multi-awarded filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik has been a leading force in independent cinema, by establishing a distinct cinematic language that straddles the personal and the political, and by essaying narratives that are uniquely his people’s own.
At the fair, Tahimik exhibits wooden sculptures of what he considers the two opposing goddesses of the wind: Inhabian, the deity to whom Ifugaos pray when typhoons approach; and Marilyn Monroe in her immortal Hollywood pose. The juxtaposition recalls themes explored in his previous films: the ubiquity of the white ideal; cinema favoring Western myths over local narratives; and identity forged through lores and relics. Tahimik’s installations are a bid to project how cinema, as well as any other art form, carries the weight of borrowed myths, and simultaneously, how it becomes a potent site for reclamation and self-invention.
A recipient of CCP’s Thirteen Artists Award in 2003 and a champion of ethnographic art, Leonard Aguinaldo has crafted depictions of Cordillera life and highland traditions. For the Art Fair, Aguinaldo’s work with the rubbercut medium extends his usual subject from indigenous culture to the beliefs and rituals of the common Filipino.
He anchors the show in an idea of play—as well as the myths, beliefs, and gods that govern the machinery of the game. Presenting a tapestry of dreams and numbers in the game of jueteng, a board game dotted with politicians and words culled from campaigns, as well as a depiction of god in Leondardo da Vinci’s $450 million painting, the artist shows how different elements intertwine: vice and magic, science and superstition, faith and chance.
Antipas Delotavo, Renato Habulan, and Pablo Baen Santos
Antipas Delotavo, Renato Habulan, and Pablo Baen Santos were once prominent members of the social realist collective called the Kaisahan. Highly critical of the Marcos regime, they created art for the purpose of articulating conflict and effecting social change.
In contemporary art where both painting and social realism have been deemed passé, the three artists push form beyond the limits of the frame and return to the ethos that has always defined their practice: to draw on the wellspring of current events and depict a nation in a state of conflict. Delotavo constructs a coffin alluding to the lack of social justice. Santos paints Duterte’s cusswords and the shouts of angry masses. Habulan fashions a multi-media installation of war’s dystopic aftermath.
Asserting the idea that art is a comforter of the afflicted, afflicting those who live in comfort, Delotavo, Habulan, and Santos prod at society’s open wound and expose conflict’s visible debris.
Language has long played a central role in the works of visual artist Lyra Garcellano. Her works, covering a wide range from painting and installation, to video and photography, hints at the link between word and world, language and territories.
Recurring themes in Garcellano’s exhibits revolve around issues of national identity and the art world’s contested systems of valuation. Essaying institutional critiques and subtle provocations, her work is both pit against and set within the context of the fair as a display system. They hint at the rising art world archetypes that these display systems have helped establish.
The exhibit of conceptual artist Nilo Ilarde follows his penchant for employing situational interventions. His Art Fair exhibit takes cue from a statement declared by conceptual artist Douglas Huebler in 1968: “The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more.” It reflects the mood of an era where artists explored the dematerialization of art, believing that a work could exist primarily as pure thought. Ilarde then turns Huebler’s statement on its head: “The art fair is full of objects, more or less interesting; I wish to add 23,623 more.”
Thousands of die-cast cars, like pixels on a plane, call attention to the venue’s nature as a car park and recast it as a space for excess and unending free play. At the Art Fair, do these die-cast cars tell of our inexhaustible compulsion to create, commodify, and collect? Ilarde’s playground insinuates: The spectators are also part of the landscape navigating the traffic and terrain of the art world.
The recipient of this year’s Karen Montinola section, Alvin Zafra presents an exhibit with video as the central piece, calling attention to the act and gesture implicit in his practice. Zafra, conferred CCP’s Thirteen Artist Award in 2015, has been recognized for his works on abrasive paper, in which he grinds objects to limn images on the surface: stones to city, bones to portraits.
At the fair, Zafra presents a two-hour long video entitled “Revolver,” documenting the artist destroying a gun with a steel grinder. Zafra teases out questions surrounding violence and power. Taking cue from its title, when tables turn and roles reverse, can revolutions be read as a balancing act? What is willed into being in the wake of a gun’s demise? In a glass box, three resin spheres contain the grinder’s disks and dusts, each like an unmoving galaxy that has completed its revolution.