Showing posts with label Philippines Art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philippines Art. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 19

17 Questions for Filipino Artist José Santos III

Phlilipino artist José Santos III started his artistic career as a figurative painter commenting on social and political issues often using an allegorical style, but in recent years, his practice has turned to using everyday objects as abstract subject matter. His upcoming solo exhibition at Pearl Lam in Singapore, opening on November 22, will be his first major solo show in years, and he will present eight oil on canvas works and five installations. I talked to the artist for BLOUIN ARTINO:

Monday, January 6

Bigger Art Fair Philippines to Return Feb 20-23

After a promising start this year, Art Fair Philippines will be returning in an extended format in February. For its sophomore year, the small Manila fair will be expanding onto a second floor of the same car park building it was held in 2013.

Monday, February 25

Filipino Artist Ronald Ventura Is Making Connections Across Cultures

Like many emerging artists, early in his career Ronald Ventura tended to sell everything he produced. Now that his reputation is firmly established and he is dreaming of one day setting up a contemporary art museum in Manila, the 39-year-old auction star has found himself in the unenviable position of going back to collectors to buy back key pieces.

Ventura has seen the auction prices for his recent work soar in the past few years. The 2011 “Grayground” — a large-scale graphite, oil, and acrylic painting of horses in the midst of battle — was sold that same year to a phone bidder at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for $1.1 million, the highest auction price recorded for a contemporary southeast Asian painting at the time. Yet the Filipino artist says he was stunned to find out how much some of his older works had appreciated. “A couple of years ago, I was looking for a good drawing that I had done. Most of my drawings are usually covered in paint, but I was looking for a drawing that wasn’t. When I found out the price I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. It was 10 times more than the original gallery price,” he said, his laugh underscoring his mixed emotions at the steep price increase.

The artist has learned his lesson. He says he now keeps one artwork from every solo exhibition. At the rate his pieces are selling, he should. In his latest show, “recyclables,” held at the Singapore Tyler Print institute, 70 percent of the works were sold by the morning of the opening. Ventura’s plan to set up a private museum to present his own works, as well as the collection of Filipino contemporary art he has slowly accumulated, is little more than a hope for the future, “maybe in three to four years’ time.” For now, he remains tight-lipped about the “other” Filipino artists he has been collecting. “I don’t want to make any [other artists] jealous ... but I do buy a lot. There are a lot of good artists in manila,” he quipped while relaxing in the private exhibition room of the Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI).

A few hours later, at the show’s opening reception, Ventura appeared in a black t-shirt with a black jacket by Maison Martin Margiela, a label known for its understated approach. But he had paired these simple items with white jeans he had hand-painted with an elaborate, graffiti-like design. The contrasting fashion statement is a reflection of the artist’s personality: behind his quiet, soft-spoken demeanor lurks an edgier side that Ventura lets loose in his artworks.

Ventura loves nothing more than to subvert familiar cartoon figures, such as Mickey Mouse or a dwarf from Snow White, giving them a “new reality” with the help of a skull or a gas mask. The artist has risen to prominence on the Asian contemporary art scene with complex, layered works that juxtapose unexpected images, often rather dark — internal organs with flowers and butterflies, or a clown and a gas mask — always rendered with exquisite draughtsmanship. He is known for mixing different styles, such as hyperrealism and Surrealism, cartoons and graffiti.

Importantly, Ventura has a proven ability to surprise viewers (and collectors) by offering new works that incorporate familiar images, using different mediums or fresh layering to create intricate compositions that remain identifiably “Ventura” while nudging the envelope a little further each time. “Actually there is no such thing as new. We just discover something by looking at it a different way,” he muses.

Ventura admits to loving contradictions and multiple realities, mixing the pretty and the grim, the fun and the gruesome. “It’s really my intention. I want to produce an image that grabs you, and after that, as you look at the details, it will tell you more,” he says. “I like the juxtaposition of a skull image with blooming flowers. The skull is a symbol of death yet it’s a symbol that is in a way immortal.... I find this contradiction fascinating.”

He believes each exhibition should be prepared for its specific venue, as this helps him connect with viewers around the world. “I feel it’s important to build a bridge between my culture and that of where I’m showing. I’m really looking at building a connection. If you arrive at a friend’s or try to talk to someone new, you have to address that specific person.”

For his recent “Fiesta Carnival” exhibition at Primo Marella Gallery in Milan, Ventura found inspiration in the amusement park of his childhood, a place his parents used to take him and his siblings on weekends and holidays. This memory was the starting point for a connection between the Filipino and European cultures of carnivals.

Prompting discourse about environmental concerns is also important to the artist. For “Recyclables,” Ventura took his cue from Singapore’s rapid expansion, which threatens its tropical flora, using it to reflect on the need for more recycling. “We cannot deny what’s happening in our environment; there is a lot of depletion, and a lot more to come. So recycling in nature is important,” he argues. Pointing to his installation “Broccoli Cloud,” 2012, a sea of sprouting green clouds reminiscent of nuclear detonations, he adds, “I wish instead of wars we were exploding greenery everywhere.”

With his STPI works, Ventura approaches the recycling concept from different angles. He not only uses recycled paper, but his “Into the Woods” series incorporates rubbings of traditional Filipino carved-wood panels and furniture. Reprocessing these images, as he so often does in his practice, Ventura created paper trees made from casts of these salvaged wooden pieces—a symbol, he says, of how art can come full circle. Animal shapes and human faces are fused into the trees’ branches and trunks, reflecting the life forces associated with nature.

Ventura is currently working on a new solo show for Galerie Perrotin in Hong Kong, where he plans to show his first shaped-canvas series. There are also plans for a 2014 mini retrospective of sorts in Lugano, which will include a selection of works held by European collectors as well as pieces from his recent “Watching the Watchmen” exhibition at the Jorge B. Vargas Museum in Manila.

“The Lugano museum is collecting artifacts from the northern part of the Philippines, so there is a real connection here with ‘Watching the Watchmen,’” explains Ventura. “That’s very interesting to me.” Ventura was inspired by the bulol, a wooden rice god found in the northern Philippines, which symbolizes wealth and protection. (The bulol stands guard in granaries.) Ventura gave the indigenous icon a contemporary feel, transforming his figures into toylike anime characters cast in resin, revealing sinew, muscle, and bone, tattooing them with images of Christ, skulls, and tribal patterns, or morphing them into Pinocchio-like figures with long pointed noses.

“Whenever I travel abroad, I always visit museums and contemporary galleries. There are a lot of big, iconic images, and I ask myself: What can I do to bring something out of my country? And the first thing that came to mind, when I talked about sculpture, was the bulol. It is really iconic to me and it’s never been touched by Western influence. So I’ve used it as an idealistic figure. Leonardo Da Vinci had the Vitruvian Man as the ideal form of the human being; the bulol’s anatomy is my idealized work.”

Ventura has always stressed he’s not interested in the hoopla that has surrounded the price of his works at auction. But he admits it has given him international recognition, and a voice. Now, he wants to use that voice to promote broader Filipino culture internationally.

This article was published in the January/February issue of Blouin Asia Edition

Sunday, January 20


@ Mizuma Gallery

Days before the start of Art Stage Singapore, many of the galleries at Gillman Barracks worked together to welcome visitors to an opening night with several new exhibition staged. Fourteen galleries are now up and running in the new art hub so there is plenty to see. Here are my top picks as published in ARTINFO:

Thursday, January 17

Art Fair Philippines 2013 to run Feb 7-10

Visitors to Art Fair Philippines 2013 will be welcomed at a reception desk created from iconic San Miguel Beer crates. The work was specially commissioned from artist Norberto S. Roldan who has also just been included in a survey of Southeast Asian art opening next month at New York’s Guggenheim Museum.

Saturday, January 5

BenCab Creates First Sabel Sculptures

The memory of a slightly deranged homeless woman clad in plastic sheets billowing in the wind has inspired Filipino artist Benedicto Cabrera, better known as BenCab, for decades. He first started on his Sabel series (named after the woman) in the 1960s and has constantly revisited her image since then, over time abstracting those billowing sheets for example, showing them as elegant dresses. Yet, he had always done so on paper or canvas.

Tuesday, November 6

23 Questions With Milenko Pravcki

Current Exhibition: A major retrospective of his works, “Milenko Prvacki: A Survey, 1979 – 2012” at the ICA Galleries at LASALLE College of the Arts, with 100 artworks that highlight his constant engagement with, and dialogue between abstraction and the abstract.

Thirty years is a long time to cover, how did you go about selecting the pieces that should be shown?
It was a collaborative effort and negotiation between curator Dr Charles Merewether and me. It was a very interesting journey for me as an artist as I always look forward and rarely back.
What does the selection reveal about the evolution of your career?
I can clearly identify evolution and development — it is not a static but an active process, moving further every four to five years, discovering new avenues and opening doors and windows for new development — and continuity of my practice — even modified, my language keeps recognizable.
The exhibition presents paintings, watercolors, sculpture, and installation. Do you have a favorite medium?
The choice of medium and material is related to the idea I’m working on, and I tend to work in blocks of time of one to four years. However, painting is my favorite; I find it’s the most direct.
 How has your work evolved between the 1970s, when you were living in your native Serbia, and today?
I started with figurative, very politically engaged paintings and drawings, questioning the communist system there and especially the human relationship created in that system. I stopped after I realized that there was a limited audience and personal activism would be more appropriate. In the late seventies I made a shift toward abstract art.
Having lived in Singapore for 21 years, do you think Asian culture has influence your practice?
It would be impossible not to be influenced after that time. It also gave me a better understanding of Chinese art and vertical perspective, and light.

You’ve been described as a postmodern painter and sculptor.
I am trying to avoid boxes and fit in to any.
You taught at the Lasalle College for over 20 years and were dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts for nine years before stepping down in 2011. What are your views on art education in Singapore now?
The major problem with Singapore education is dependency. Most of the time, we are getting very dependent students asking for solutions, answers, and direction. They are not taking risks and instead are looking for comfort. So we have to work much harder so they leave college as independent artists. I think we need to change and improve primary, secondary education here and advance learning.
You just received a Cultural Medallion, Singapore's highest honor for the arts. What does that mean to you?
It is kind of official recognition of what I did over the last 20 years as an artist, educator and cultural worker; an acknowledgement that all my efforts weren’t futile.
READ THE FULL Q&A ON" target="_blank">ARTINFO

Monday, September 24

Luis Lorenzana @ Silverlens, Singapore/Manila

Filipino gallery Silverlens opted to inaugurate its new gallery in Gillman Baracks with a solo show by young Filipino artist Luis Lorenzana titled “Beautiful Pain.” For good measure, the gallery opened a second solo show by the same artist in its Manila gallery on September 20.

Thursday, September 20

Nona Garcia @ Valentine Willie Fine Art, Singapore

 As she paces around the white-cube space of Valentine Willie Fine Arts, young Filipino artist Nona Garcia is fretting the works have been hung “too neatly,” and workers are now attending to the light box wiring that had been painted over in white so that they no longer blend in with the walls.

Tuesday, July 17

Geraldine Javier @ STPI, Singapore

The Singapore Tyler Print Institute is currently showing works by Geraldine Javier, which the Filipino artist created during a residency. The 48 works are haunted by dreams (or nightmares) creatures shaped by evolution, palaeontology and natural history.

Tuesday, May 8

Ahmad Zakii, BenCab and Sebastian @Visual Art at Temenggong

Bencab's Street Subjects
Hands Across The Water, an exhibition at Visual Art at Temenggong opening Jun 2, promises to be a very interesting one, given the "heavyweights" it presents together: Bencab, Zakii and Mexico's premier sculptor Sebastian (you know artists have arrived when one only uses their first names!). 

Sunday, May 6

Panorama @ SAM, Singapore

Sakarin Krue‐On (Thailand)
Cloud Nine, 2004
The Singapore Art Museum has been hard at work building a collection of Southeast Asian contemporary art in the last few years. Its efforts are now for all to see with Panorama: Recent Art from Southeast Asia, an exhibition of only some of the 300 works or so that the museum has acquired (some works were donated by artists) over the last 3 years. There is the very good and the not so good (and the downright awfull... so I will only concentrate on what I liked!)

Friday, April 27

33 Auction to hold sale of modern/contemporary Asian art May 6 in Singapore

33 Auction will hold its Spring Modern and Contemporary Asian Art sale on May 6 at the Grand Hyatt Singapore. This season’s auction will offer almost two hundred works by prominent artists.
Among the highlights will be this stunning piece by Ronald Ventura, Commodity.

Thursday, March 22

Rare works by Walter Spies, Romualdo Locatelli headline Sotheby’s HK sale

Sotheby’s Hong Kong sale of Southeast Asian Paintings will be headlined rare works of European Academic style painters who travelled to southeast Asia in the early 20th century: Walter Spies and Romualdo Locatelli.

Tuesday, January 3

Larasati, Borobudur team up for next Singapore auction

Auction houses Borobudur and Larasati are teaming up for the first time to hold a joint evening sale of Contemporary and Modern Art on January 12.  The auctioneers are taking advantage of the Art Stage fair and smartly holding their viewing and auction at the same venue, MBS.

Tuesday, November 29

Zao Wou-ki again top lot of Christie's day sale of Asian 20th century art

Christie's day sale of Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art raised $39.4 million, with 76% of the lot sold but 90% by value. Zao Wou-ki was again the top lot of the sale, firmly establishing himself as the leading modern Chinese artist at auction right now, with 21.10.66 selling for $1.66 million. The second top lot was Zu Jiang's Twelve View of a Sunflower Field XII selling for $1.44 million and then Zeng Fanzhi's Mao+Calling at $1.157 million, Contemporary works that were fresh to the market and well-estimated did particularly well

Zao's 21.10.66

Saturday, November 5

Published: A Filipino Artist's Fantastical Vision, Finely Crafted

Ronald Ventura was wearing a highly personalized Mickey Mouse T-shirt. By using an airbrush technique similar to the graffiti style in some of his artwork, the Filipino artist had subverted the classic cartoon image with red and black paint, transforming the smiling mouse into something slightly menacing.

This artistic statement is typical of what Mr. Ventura, who has risen to prominence on the Asian contemporary art scene, is known for: well-crafted, complexly layered images and styles that range from hyperrealism to cartoons, graffiti and surrealism.

Tuesday, October 4

Old Southeast Asian Masters outperform contemporary at Sotheby's HK

Sotheby’s Hong Kong Autumn 2011 Sale of Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings fetched a promising $10.6 million, more than doubling the presale estimate ($4.2 million), with 81% of the lots sold and 95% sold by value.

Gunawan – Tuak Manis (Sweet Wine)