There is and has been for a long time now a serious amount of incredible and talented artists emerging from the Philippines. Famous for being the land of smiles and incredible cuisine and holiday destinations for those who seek beauty and adventure or just the poetry of a sunset or the energy of a thriving creative art scene, and a thriving economy - the Philippines is a must-see country.
Its vibrant art scene is very active and growing. It's something I have noticed about Filipinos. (My wife is a Filipina) They are a busy people. They learn, they grow, they aspire... and they grow more and achieve greatness because of it. Now Filipino artists are becoming more well known abroad. Here in Singapore, some of these artists have seen their works go on view to an impressed and appreciative public, and more so, have also seen their paintings fetch some high prices. When Art auctions started reporting Filipino paintings by Philippine painters fetch six figure sums of money - it became necessary to announce that Filipino artists are now truly in the world.
The average Filipino art lover is torn between putting enough food on the table, and spending a large slice of that money on good art. We all know art is art. Art is also a great investment. And finding a great artist who produces great work, early in that artist's career - is a great boost for someone looking to collect art. For other art collectors, finding the art from these artists means having to travel beyond the shores of the Philippines. And it's little surprise that artists like Toro, a well known action painter can now expect prices for work to jump over USD$100,000. That will pay for a lot of Jollibee meals.
I have noticed lots of Filipino art collectors from Manila and beyond the capital arriving in Singapore to view exhibitions and buy art, all because artists are exhibiting new works here now. It means that everyone in the Philippines, including over half a million Filipinos already living and working here in Singapore now can enjoy the art from their home country in places like Artesan Gallery + Studio in Singapore. Here, Filipinos who live and work in Singapore are more likely to take a chance on buying art from their fellow countrymen and women artists. Pinoy creativity has always been something Filipinos are very proud of.
Manila-based galleries are used to seeing art work of high quality, even if some find art high priced. Bahala na. There was the time when not so long ago, people agreed that art is very special but the average Filipino salary just could not extend to include the buying of art. Things change, and happily for the better.
A rising economy, economic stability, a thriving art scene and artists with no restrictions or limitations placed upon them by a very accepting culture that is open to many influences has placed Philippine art in a great position, globally speaking. Creativity is nothing but good here. For that aspiring artist, art can now pay good money and earnings can be much better. And conversely, for lovers of art, more can now afford art. With art right now more popular than ever, paintings, surreal or abstract or traditional works are being truly appreciated at home and abroad. Creativity and self-expression is finding a wider audience. And it helps that the Philippines has the second largest art scene of any country in Asia.
Here in Singapore, the view looks promising. Art Stage Singapore gave glowing reports of good sales and big interest in Philippine art. The art market of the Philippines is growing and maturing. Back in 2009 when the Singapore Art Museum decided to showcase the rich and wide variety of Pinoy work, Filipino art gained a far wider appreciation among collectors here. Awareness has mushroomed. The secret was out.
It's worth remembering that, in 2008, Filipino artist Ronald Ventura's work was a creative centerpiece of the then Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong, just before the financial crisis struck USA and beyond. Some joked that it was great art and lousy timing. No one could have predicted the affect of an economic downturn that followed and which still lingers, but it proved to be a seminal moment and attracted huge interest. Ventura's work was a major hit. That excitement and interest in Filipino art has not diminished.
In April, Taksu Gallery will showcase a group exhibition by its stable of Filipino artists: Raul Rodriguez, Nolet Soliven, Zean Cabangis, Ronald Achacoso, Jigger Cruz, Juni Salvador, and Jojo Serrano. These are a mix of veterans and emerging artist names in the Philippine art scene. It will be great to see yet more artists gaining exposure to art buyers and art lovers far beyond the shores of their home, as Filipinos compete with Indonesian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian and Malaysian artists. Exposure is the secret sauce of most successes. How artists can grow further is through art fairs. And February is here and now we have a large Art Fair starting February 20th to 23rd. It happens in the Link Park in Makati City. And with Christie's on board and with seminars planned, it is sure to attract interest.
Art Fair Philippines 2014 - A Must for Art Collectors & Art Lovers
With names like Ronald Ventura, Pio Abad, Rommel Joson, Bencab, Jose John Santos, Poklong Anading and Marina Cruz, it's going to be a fascinating art fair. The exhibitors are Altro Mondo, Archivo, Art Cube, Art Informal, Avellana Art Gallery, TAKSU, Blanc, Boston Gallery, CANVAS, Crucible, Equator Art Projects, Finale, Galleria Duemila, Light and Space Contemporary, Liongoren Gallery, Manila Contemporary, MO Space, NOVA, New Gallery, Pablo, Paseo Art Gallery, Richard Koh Fine Art, Salcedo Private View, Secret Fresh, Silverlens, The Drawing Room, Tin-Aw, West Gallery, and 1335 Mabini.
The art world and Filipino art prospects continue to grow to the point where you know your culture is growing when as Filipino, you can view your country's art in another country such as Hong Kong, USA, Canada, UK, France or here in Singapore.
This may explain why Manila art galleries such as Silverlens and the Drawing Room have come and set up "shop" right here in Singapore, with a serious focus on art of the Philippines.
Artesan Gallery was one such early adopter to the burgeoning Filipino art scene, and sensing an exciting new art scene coming their way, just as a surfer views a huge wave coming towards him, the urge was to explore and ride on its crest and experience that thrill of a great new sense of wonderment. Introducing new art is tough the first time around, but in a small and thriving country like Singapore, word gets around fast. Small can actually be a good thing in a country like this.
Artesan roadshows in recent years took Filipino artists on tour to clubs like Fort Canning Club, Tanglin Club and Raffles Town Club, where the exhibitions raised the profile of Filipino art. Soon after, that gallery partnered with Larasati auction house and successfully sold the works of 14 emerging and established artists. New names and amazing new art to see and enjoy, even buy and own. Singapore seems to be warming up to Filipino creative people because they contribute something important to Asian culture. It's art by Asians, and for Asians and beyond.
Another beauty to this is that as Philippine people settle and live in Singapore, so too are Filipino families of artists emerging here in Singapore. And here we get that wonderful exposure to Philippine culture in a whole new way. Cuisine and food, language and literature are all here. Language and music, most certainly. As an Irish artist, I come from a country who's people are so used to growing up with art and culture all around us. We live with art. Art lives with us. We co-exist and we are the better for it in so many ways.
When art grows and becomes a global export, it becomes necessary to learn how it works and how to succeed whether as an artist, a collector, buyer or participant on this growing art area. We can be involved in it in innumerable ways. For Filipino art, the only way is up.
Lectures are planned for the Art Fair in Makati this February, so its important to attend, as understanding this market can lead to many wonderful things down the road for art lovers everywhere. Artists need to know and understand the value of what they have. That knowledge brings its own rewards. And of course, art lovers get to enjoy Filipino art wherever they may be, wherever it may be - at home or abroad. For now, Philippine art has found newer audiences. And the prospects are looking good for art.
- Alan Mc Keogh
Alan Mc Keogh is an artist, designer and blogger who probably drinks too much coffee. He also has a thing for chicken adobo and all things art-like.
Alan Mc Keogh
I am an artist, web and blog designer, and I enjoy creating art, whether people, still life, or landscapes. I blog and write to grow the masses. Logos are a growing passion here. Come to me, brethren! New projects coming soon.