Whenever I visit Manila, I always try to do something worthwhile other than being stuck in traffic or trapped in a blackhole like a mall. I guess the Universe (or Facebook and Instagram algorithm, haha ) really knows what I enjoy that this sponsored ad appeared on my feed. When I saw this, my artsy fartsy heart did a happy dance.
The art fair was around the time I was in Manila after that Japan trip. I was able to drag my friends to SM Aura to see the artworks. I am thankful that these friends always say yes to my requests to accompany me to activities I enjoy. I always prefer experiences over shopping. The only shopping I always find myself having a hard time resisting is shopping for art materials, notebooks and pens.
ManilArt is dubbed as the country’s biggest visual arts fair and it was!
Ok, before I bombard this piece with lots of praises for the art fair, let me tell you first about something I hated. No, hate is a strong word. Something I dislike. No, more like something that makes me freak out deep inside my being. Ha! In the Japan trip, my friend, Gail, would have a heightened spider radar whenever we were surrounded by trees while I would have an unnamed creature alarm in my system whenever It gets dark and there is a grass. So at SM Aura, my alarm system is on rest because we are inside a mall. It was in the afternoon. There was no grass. Not! As soon as I stepped inside the hall, my eyes went straight to a large art installation of more than two dozens of the unnamed creature I feared most. I think it was some sort of a statement about the quest of finding a prince. (May time pa talaga ako magexplain no?) I quickly walked to the next set of display.
Good thing the next display area was awe-inspiring that I forgot about that frightening installation. This artist immediately became my favorite among all the artists showcased in ManilArt. Say hello to the works of Roel Obemio.
This is entitled”After the Girl with a Pearl Earring”. It is his take on a popular Vermeer painting but injected with modern theme.
He made the same approach with Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”. He named this “After Venus”.
Here are his other works.
Roel is from Cagayan de Oro. Yay! A fellow Bisaya! (Feeling close agad, Kat! LOL) Anyway, he used to work for the Philippine animation studio of Hanna-Barbera (Yogi bear, Flintstones, Scooby Doo). I can see the influences in his storybook kind of paintings.
The amazing thing is that all his paintings had a dot in the labels. His paintings sold out!
Since I could no longer buy his paintings (kasi wala ka namang pambayad, Kat), I just opted to have my picture taken with the paintings. (Palusot!)
This series is cute. The characters are wearing Filipiniana but with a twist. One is holding a designer handbag. Another is holding a paintbrush. The last one is wearing a Minnie Mouse hat while holding McDonald’s french fries.
I will give you a run-through of all the other works (from other artists) that I love.
This is Shirly’s favorite painting because she is a coffee lover. This is Francis Nacion’s work. I love his colorful painting plus his paintings are in these gorgeous custom frames made by skilled carvers from Pampanga.
There are sculptures in the art fair. Can you see us in that piece in the wall?
Ramon Orlina’s glass sculptures are also in display but I stayed away because I was afraid I might accidentally bump the display. It would truly give me a heart attack if that happened.
I always gravitate towards realism. This one is made by an Iranian artist, Ali Esmaeilipour. I am a fan of Araceli Dans’ lace in paintings and that lace in Ali’s work reminded me of Dans.
I like how Ram Mallari was able to create a work of art from scrap metal.
Here’s my friend, Gail, looking at the details of Arnica Acantilado’s work.
This one is a take on John William Waterhouse’s painting of the Lady of Shalott from a poem by Lord Alfred Tennyson. The difference from the original is that there is no child in the boat and no floating lantern in the Waterhouse painting. It is interesting how this painting is also an inspiration in Ghibli. I saw a print of this painting inside the museum. Ghibli artists studied the works of Waterhouse to understand how he used colors.
This is a lovely bronze sculpture. I forgot who made this.
This is Argee Dacuyan’s ” Mag-iisang Tatanda” and “Nag-iisang Ilaw”. Ouch!
stalked spied Romulo Galicano talking to some art patrons. I could have walked up to him and ask for a photo but he might start talking about art and discover that I am a poser. LOL. I do not know how to talk art so I just observed from afar.
This is his work.
It is fit for a museum. It is called ‘Ominous’. It is his take on the aftermath of Yolanda. That beautiful lady is mother earth struggling with the devastation. The angel of death is in the background. At first glance, it is a beautiful painting but after you have seen the details, it is also a sad, sad one. I think that is the purpose of art – to stir your soul.
I like happy paintings so after looking at all the pieces, Roel Obemio is still my favorite artist in ManilArt2019.
But my favorite painting is Efren Carpio’s Prutas. I think I have sent a photo of this piece to a lot of friends because I think the concept is really clever.
Did you get what it is all about? I remember older people telling me before that if I swallow a santol seed, the tree would grow inside my body. Efren Carpio was able to tell that story in this painting. Clever!
My takeaway at the ManilArt: The Philippine Art Scene is exciting. My inspiration cup overflows.
Hope to see this art fair again next year! Behind me are JP Pining’s works.