Matters of the Art
Philippine Tatler talks to the new influencers of the contemporary Philippine art scene about their varying takes on their shared passion, and how they would like to take the art world to the next level.
Creative direction and styling: Monique Madsen
Raul and Joanna Francisco
Owners, The Provenance Gallery
In between managing four retail stores, maintaining a beautiful and loving home for their three children, and participating in marathons, Joanna Preysler and Raul Francisco found the time to pursue their artistic zeal and put up The Provenance Gallery at Shangri-La at the Fort. “I want to help the artists tell their stories, and if I can do that one artist at a time, I’ve done my job,” Raul says.
The Provenance Gallery is just a little more than a year old, but it has quickly gained traction and a reputation for featuring the best Filipino contemporary art. Joanna says, “We want to provide artists with a global stage; being in Shangri-La, with its local as well as international traffic, gives our artists a great exposure.”
The couple’s relationship is as dynamic as the artworks they showcase. Joanna’s sunny demeanour contrasts with Raul’s—in his wife’s words—“artistic temperament.” They support local brands and entrepreneurs, and help artists with that crucial push to inspire them to continue their art.
Location: The Provenance Gallery | Photography: MJ Suayan | Make-up and Grooming: Al De Leon of MAC Cosmetics | Hair: Rudolf Davalos
Founding Director, Silverlens
In 2004, Silverlens was the first gallery in the country to turn a warehouse into an art space, which sparked the trend of renovating industrial spaces to house artworks. In its formative years, Silverlens only focused on photography with its founder, Isa Lorenzo, being a photographer. It then expanded to carry different types of art and now represents 22 artists, including some who have won prestigious international awards. Silverlens recently relocated to its third home, a sprawling 1,200-square-metre space on Chino Roces Avenue, with two exhibition spaces, offices, a lounge area, and studios for their artists.
Silverlens is the most active Filipino—and Southeast Asian—gallery in international art fairs. Says Lorenzo, “We do about five international art fairs a year, and about another five pop-ups in different countries. As we speak, we have shows happening in Tokyo, London, and Paris, and we’re preparing for shows in Sydney and San Francisco.” She believes that participating in international art shows allows Silverlens to build a lot of bridges to the advantage of its artists. “When we go out to the world, we carry all these artists in our boat; it’s our responsibility to show the world what they can do,” she says.
Location: Silverlens Gallery | Photography: Ian Santos | Make-up: Daisy Talosig of MAC Cosmetics | Hair: Cats del Rosario of Jed Root Manila
Richie and Karen Lerma
Owners, Salcedo Auctions
“Our first auction only had 10 artworks. Now, we have over 500 pieces in one sale,” says Richie Lerma, art connoisseur, respected auctioneer, and co-owner of Salcedo Auctions. Multiply that by nine auctions a year with record-breaking feats, and this is where the first auction house in the Philippines has gone in a relatively short period of time.
Richie and his wife Karen enjoyed participating in a lot of auctions when they lived in Sydney before returning to the Philippines in 2009. They founded Salcedo Auctions a year later to provide an organised platform where Filipinos can acquire valuable collectibles or offer their priced items for auction. Although the idea was uncharted territory in the Philippine art landscape then, the concept was sound. The market was ripe and the economy was just beginning to take off. Factor in to the mix Richie’s influence in the art scene and Karen’s expertise in business and Salcedo Auctions was all set.
The two met while they were studying at the Ateneo; and the chemistry was instant. They complement each other: Richie is the creative half (he was the director of the Ateneo Art Gallery for 15 years); Karen is the finance whiz and a certified diamond grader in Australia. Their common denominator is a passion for the arts. Their two sons have begun to take after them, attending auctions and even speaking to several clients.
The couple credit their success to the reputation and integrity that they have painstakingly cultivated and protected in the past seven years. Of the biggest compliment they’ve received so far, Richie says, “People tell us that they thought we’ve been around much longer. We’re happy because it means we have grown roots in the art scene.”
Location: Salcedo Auctions | Photography: MJ Suayan | Grooming: Joseph Jiao of MAC Cosmetics
Owner, Art Informal
People understand art better when they understand the process behind it: this was the original philosophy behind Art Informal. Founded in 2004 by Tina Fernandez, along with several friends who are experts in their respective fields, Art Informal started out as an art school that taught the fundamentals of basic art forms like painting, pottery, and sculpture. The school was also located in a spacious house in the western part of the metropolis that exudes a laidback atmosphere. “We believe that the creation of art is best learnt in an informal setup,” Fernandez explains the unusual name of the school.
Two years later, the school was turned into a gallery as people began buying the teachers’ artworks. Its unique feature, however, is a vestige of the old art school: a day dedicated to those who want to learn the technical side of art from Art Informal’s teachers whose works are displayed, not for sale, but for study and analysis.
While raising a son as well as managing Aphro, her concept store in Karrivin Plaza, Fernandez has steered Art Informal towards a meaningful and celebrated existence with 10 shows every year and a fully-booked 2017 and 2018.
Location: Art Informal | Photography: Ian Santos | Make-up: Bea Colet Of MAC Cosmetics | Hair: Jaymar Lahaylahay of Cynos Inside Haircare
Jaime Ponce de Leon
Director, Leá½¹n Gallery
As much as Jaime de Leon wants to visit his hometown in Iloilo more often, or hit the gym religiously, he simply cannot, what with the thriving León Gallery in Makati taking up most of his time. But he takes great pleasure as well in the fact that it has grown by leaps and bounds since it was established in 2010. The gallery cum auction house has earned a high level of credibility among art collectors as well as prominent families who entrust their estates and art pieces for showcase or auction.
While exercising his artistic flair as an interior designer, De Leon started to buy and sell artworks, becoming the seed that planted the idea of opening a gallery. In early 2013, De Leon was asked by Prudentialife Plans Inc to auction off its art collection; it was a huge success. Clients started to approach him with the same request, and it snowballed from there, marking the addition of an auction house to the gallery. In its last auction, León Gallery sold a piece that has never been offered before in auctions: a drawing of Jose Rizal’s best friends in Germany, sketched and signed by the hero himself. Similarly unique is a love letter written by the former Philippine president, Corazon Aquino, to her husband Ninoy, which will be part of the June sale.
León Gallery now holds quarterly auctions, along with exhibitions that feature fine art and antiques. Passion meeting profession sums up De Leon’s life now—and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Location: Leon Gallery | Photography: MJ Suayan | Grooming: Joseph Jiao of MAC Cosmetics
Trickie Lopa, Lisa Periquet, Dindin Araneta
Founders, Art Fair Philippines
These three ladies are at the centre of the most notable art fair in the metro. Together, they have managed to deliver and exceed expectations in bringing Philippine contemporary visual arts to a bigger audience. They have been working together since their days with the Museum Foundation of the Philippines in the early 2000s; Dindin was the executive director while Trickie and Lisa were members of the board. The weight of planning the highly-anticipated Art Fair Philippines is no child’s play, but the three have been mounting exhibitions together for almost 20 years that they can efficiently execute their plans with grace, never failing to pleasantly surprise artists, collectors, spectators, and the international art scene.
The annual Art Fair Philippines was founded in 2013 as a platform to showcase exceptional modern Philippine art. The four-day Art Fair Philippines 2017 featured 46 participating galleries and attracted 40,000 visitors, a far cry from last year’s 22,000. “We only rest for a couple of weeks after the Art Fair ends, then we start preparing for the next,” says Trickie. This well-oiled machine is the result of long and meticulous preparation—discussions for days on end, coordinating with contractors, talking to galleries and artists and visiting their studios—all done to make art more accessible and more valued in the local and global art scene.
Location: Ayala Museum | Photography: Jinggo Montenejo | Make-up: Cielo Desamparado and Angel Manhilot of MAC Cosmetics | Hair: Cats Del Rosario of Jed Root Manila and Rudolf Davalos