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Barok is Back
For this year’s Art Fair Philippines, I am proud to feature the artists who I believe are doing important work: Nunelucio Alvarado, Bjorn Calleja, Doktor Karayom, Melvin Guirhem, Johanna Helmuth, Ryan Jara, Aze Ong, Wyndelle Remonde, Aro Soriano, and Tyang Karyel.
Saddled by the pandemic last year, we are excited to resume presenting the Projects in a physical space, where the audience can view, experience, and interact with them. The configuration of this year’s venue has allowed us to work with the expanded floor area and increased ceiling height, which we have fully taken advantage of.
As a departure from previous iterations, we have decided to do away with the partitions. This allows you to roam the space more freely, to plot your own path. You bring whatever you’ve seen to another section of the show, generating productive tensions, gaining a broader picture of the exhibition. You have a bodily sense of all the works being in one space. It’s not in a vacuum: everything is affected by everything else.
While I did not specifically look out for a common theme (as my governing principle is to showcase excellent work by artists at any point in their career), what emerged was an emphasis on what I could only describe as barok: the deliberately ugly, the seemingly spontaneous, the recklessly experimental, laden with the unique Filipino sensibility. Humor, for instance, runs through most of the works.
Upon looking at the works more closely, a connection emerges: in the imagery, in the colors, in the way the artists have put things together. There’s a conversation happening between them, like people at a dinner table. They are all there talking with each other, and it’s interesting to watch. As a viewer, it’s up to you to navigate and make sense of it all.
This is what I hope to encapsulate in the exhibition: when you go inside and around the venue, you’ll get the full experience of Philippine contemporary art.
Words by Carlomar Daoana