Filipino artists take part in London art fair
LONDON - The international art scene took over the imposing Olympia Grand Hall in Kensington for the newest art fair in town featuring artists from around the world including exciting works from the Philippines, China, Singapore and South Korea.
|The Thirteen Most Artists by Yason Banal|
Art from all over Asia showed a strong presence at Art13 London, dubbed by organizers as one of the largest art fairs in London for a decade, which featured 139 galleries from 30 countries covering parts of Europe, America, and Asia.
"The global aspect is what sets [Art13] apart from all the other art fairs, because we have galleries not only from a large number of countries, but we have young emerging galleries as well as really established galleries from all across the world," Art13’s fair director Stephanie Dieckvoss told ABS-CBN Europe at the event.
On the recent emergence of more Asian art within the Western art scene, she said: “I don’t think [Asian artists] should be outsiders, and they are not outsiders. I think because the work is so interesting, it’s really important that they enter the mainstream market here in Europe as well. And I hope that’s something we could achieve with this fair.”
The visible prominence of works from Asian artists at the inaugural three-day fair suggests that Art13 London is right on course with its aim, striking a seemingly good balance in representing Western and Eastern art.
At Galerie Zimmermann Kratochwill (GZK), a gallery from Austria, Filipino conceptual artists based in Manila took center stage with multimedia work using photography, video and sculpture.
The gallery featured Yason Banal, with his photo-series exploring the nature of identity and origin using carefully constructed portraits of young men with key visual signifiers like books and clothing.
Banal, who was born in Manila in 1972, is a graduate of Goldsmiths College, a prestigious art school home to the infamous Young British Artists (YBAs) movement from the late 1980s and 1990s. His work has been shown in various art exhibits in the Philippines and beyond.
Alongside him at Art13 was Poklong Anading, with his multimedia series of nail varnish and cotton, as well as a delicate and striking sculpture of hands made of human fat and marble.
Born in Manila in 1975, Anading trained in fine arts at the University of the Philippines before exhibiting extensively in the Philippines and abroad. Some of his works were also shown at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
"The Manila art scene is quite interesting because it’s so fast. [The Filipino artists] are quite educated, they are so interested in what’s going on. It’s a process of when you come from Europe, it’s just like ‘wow’ [when discovering Filipino art], so that’s more or less the reason why we do it,” said Barbara Pretterhofer from GZK, who was representing Banal and Anading at the fair.
The Austrian gallery recently opened a branch in Manila, launching the aptly named 1335 Mabini in Ermita, in a bid to foster artistic and cultural exchange between Filipino and European artists.
"It’s a great country, we like it there,” added Pretterhofer, whose gallery is currently working on developing more artists from the Philippines.
|Unicorn sculpture by Ronald Ventura|
Across the grand hall is Primo Marella Gallery, based in Italy and China, with another Manila-based Filipino artist, Ronald Ventura.
The Italian gallery featured Ventura’s multimedia installation using sculpture and drawing, featuring the artist’s eye-catching vision of a partially skinned, double-headed white unicorn.
“[Ventura] is one of the more interesting artists from not only the Philippines but also the Asian world,” said Elena Micheletti from Primo Marella, who also revealed that the large sculpture arrived directly from Manila just a day before the fair opened to the public.
Ventura is better known in the Philippines for his paintings, a more traditional art medium which is typically more popular in the local art market.
At Art13 London, however, Primo aims to showcase Ventura’s multimedia work through his three-dimensional conceptual piece which could prove attractive to European collectors.
“I know that in the Philippines, he’s usually more well known as a painter rather than as a three-dimensional artist. But we are very pleased to underline the fact that we have been working with him by introducing three-dimensional artwork. What we are trying to do is to have more collectors from Europe - important collectors, leading collectors - knowing his art. And that’s what we’ve been doing so far,” Micheletti said.
Having worked with a select group of promising artists from China, Indonesia and the Philippines, she believes that the Asian art scene has become “lively and dynamic” due to its cultural and economic circumstances in recent years.
“Contemporary art is much more vibrant, lively and dynamic in Asia. Clearly every country speaks a different language, and this is due to several reasons, like different censorship, different education, different values,” she said.
“Besides that, there are also very different economical situations. So we see everyday that Europe if not going so well, to put it diplomatically, whereas Asia is absolutely booming, and the fact that it’s booming from an economic point of view is also reflected in the cultural point of view.”
If the strong contingent of art from Asia at Art13 London is anything to go by, Micheletti might just have a point.
Alongside works from art darlings Damien Hirst and Grayson Perry, many creations by Asian artists at the fair proved just as interesting and riveting as those made by their Western counterparts, albeit from a different point of view.
Chinese artist Su Xiaobai was among the featured artists from Asia, represented by Pearl Lam Galleries from Hong Kong, Singapore and China.
Speaking through an interpreter, he told ABS-CBN Europe how “thrilled” he is to be showing his work in London for the first time, adding that it is “great” that Asian artists are beginning to arouse more interest from the mainstream Western art market.
“[Asian artists] have been around for awhile, the [Western] media just hasn’t paid enough attention to us,” he said.
Asia is continuously developing as a strong economic force in the global sphere, and with it come waves of cultural revolutions through its art across the region.
Art13 London has paved the way in showcasing Asian artists in a larger scale than ever before, and it seems only a matter of time before the art scene of the West recognize the true potential of art from the East.