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You can now get your Art Fair Philippines 2019 tickets

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This year's Art Fair Philippines includes a staging of David Medalla’s “A Stitch in Time,” a participatory work which invites viewers to sew their own keepsakes and memorabilia in a large swathe of canvas. It was recently exhibited at the 2017 Venice Art Biennale and has never been shown in the Philippines. Photo by DON JAUCIAN

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Seven years doesn’t seem like a long time, but for an event such as Art Fair Philippines, it has already seen its fair share of remarkable and controversial works from the luminaries of the Philippine arts scene.

But for the seventh edition of Art Fair Philippines, co-founder and organizer Trickie Lopa said that this year’s lineup might just be their strongest yet.

The fair will run from Feb. 22 to 24 at The Link carpark in Makati.

This year includes a staging of David Medalla’s “A Stitch in Time,” a participatory work which invites viewers to sew their own keepsakes and memorabilia in a large swathe of canvas. It was recently exhibited at the 2017 Venice Art Biennale and has never been shown in the Philippines.

David Medalla after a performance at the 2017 Venice Art Biennale. Photo by DON JAUCIAN

“Step on the Sand and Make Footprints,” an award-winning 1974 work by artist and CCP curator Ray Albano, will also be re-staged for the art fair. The installation received an Honorable Mention in the Ninth International Biennial of Prints in Tokyo in 1974.

Never before seen prints and drawings by Mauro “Malang” Santos will also be on view. This exhibit, curated by his son, Soler Santos, will feature works depicting “Malang’s Women” from the family’s private collection.

Other artists who are also in the ArtFairPh/Projects lineup include Ryan Villamael (“Behold a City”), Ian Fabro (“Inferno, Purgatorio, Paraiso”), Olivia d’Aboville (“Everything, Everywhere, Everyone”), MM Yu (“Subject/Object”), Oca Villamiel (“Cheap Medicine”), Ling Quisumbing Ramilo (“Forest for the Trees”), and Liv Vinluan, who is the recipient of this year’s Karen H. Montinola Selection, a grant given to emerging young artists.

Ian Fabro's work features intricate drawings as well as layers of paper held by staple wire. Photo from ART FAIR PHILIPPINES

A mini-retrospective of the works of Colombian artist and sculptor Fernando Botero will also be in the Art Fair — a first in the Philippines.

There will be 36 Philippine galleries and 16 international galleries from countries such as Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

The fair also continues its push for proper art viewing etiquette as some participating galleries in previous years experienced rowdy crowds and damaged works.

“I guess it’s time to enhance people’s knowledge about how art should be treated, handled,” says Lopa. “Maybe it’s part of our mission as well so everybody gets a better experience.”

One of the changes from last year's fair is the timed entries so as to control the volume of crowds at the venue. This year, instead of limiting the visitor's time, the reception area is being expanded and more access points are added, including a bridgeway from the second floor of Landmark Department Store, just across The Link.

We briefly sat down with one of the Art Fair Philippines organizers and co-founders, Trickie C. Lopa, and talked about how the lineup is made, expanding the space, and art fair etiquette. Below are edited excerpts from the interview.

Soler Santos at the Malang Room, two floors above West Gallery, the gallery he runs with his wife and fellow artist Mona. The room is dedicated to an archive of works, awards, and other memorabilia of his father, Mauro "Malang" Santos. Photo by JL JAVIER

You have two almsot consecutive art events: Art Fair Philippines and Art in the Park but Art Fair Philippines is significantly bigger. How long does it take for you to mount the event?

We get maybe a month off and then by May we start sitting down with the architects, only because we try to give a different experience of the fair. Like this year, we changed the layout again, all the ArtFairPh/Projects are in one floor with the photography. We used to dot them around the fair. Now we’ve maximized the available floors of The Link because we can’t expand so much anymore. But we start in May, and we touch base with the galleries sometime in June or July and then we talk to our special exhibits ... that’s really the first discussion among the three of us: the space and then choosing the ArtFairPh/rojects artists. There’s a lot of debates ... [on] who gets into our lineup! [Laughs]

Is there a special thrust each year in choosing the special projects?

You know what … no, but it sort of happens that we bring our different interests to the table. But at the same time there’s also a synergy in how we think. For instance, last year, we all wanted to bring Kidlat Tahimik and then at the end of the year, he’s [declared] a National Artist.

[For] photography, we really felt strongly about that and we made such an impact. And all of them were doing documentary photography so maybe because we’re quite immersed in the art scene, we have our ear to the ground. We kind of feel how the pulse is. It’s not deliberate, but it just happens like that.

Oca Villamiel is known for his use of materials from nature and animals for his works. Photo from ART FAIR PHILIPPINES

This year we have David Medalla, Malang, Ray Albano — three very different artists but who worked at around the same time. And David Medalla and Ray Albano especially, they’re appreciated today for unconventional work in the ‘60s and ‘70s and we have both of them, [they’re really like disruptors of their day]. It’s really exciting.

For me, when I said earlier that I think this is one of our strongest lineups, it’s because I think I know the art scene here because I’ve pretty much been covering it for a while. But then you start doing this fair and we got them to come in as special exhibits … I mean David Medalla said yes to reprise his work [“A Stitch in Time”], and then we found people to connect with to curate a Ray Albano show … you learn so much about what these guys are doing. [That] was the ‘60s and ‘70s, right? And what they were doing then, what they had to contend with — it’s just so exciting when you’re learning and appreciating artists that you’ve never really studied or looked at in depth before.

Is this something you consider when you make the lineup? Someone overlooked or underappreciated?

The first thing is they have to be commercially and critically recognized. I guess you have to have a bit of chops to get into our list. [Laughs]. You realize it’s so exciting to put them there because they’re going to bring so much to the fair. We discuss that and when we find a name that we feel will contribute so much to the fair, [we include them].

But when it comes to the emerging artists, there’s no deliberate selection theme for that as well?

Again they have to be critically or commercially recognized. People like Ryan Villamael who won the Ateneo Art Awards and got three residencies when he won it … somebody who has that caliber and qualifications. Or somebody who’s working with an interesting [process]. It turns out this year when we were putting this together, we realized they’re all working with different media, they all have different processes … one works with paper, one works with staple, one works with nature, so it just so happened that they’re all like that this year. Maybe because we keep discussing them and names lead to other names, it turns out that there’s something common about all of them.

French-Filipino artist and designer Olivia d'Aboville uses materials collected from trash in the ocean for her ArtFairPH/Projects work "Everything, Everywhere, Everyone." Photo from ART FAIR PHILIPPINES

Is it easier that you don’t have a central theme?

Yeah! We don’t really have a theme. The fact that we like them — that’s a common theme enough [Laughs]. We’re an art fair so the appeal has to be broader. There is the commercial aspect. So we’re not as strict to go a certain way. We have a bit more leeway. But definitely we have to work with people with a certain caliber.

One of the most exciting things last year was a focus on photography. How was the reception last year and what’s different this time around?

We just felt it was high time that people here realize that photography is very much part of the contemporary art conversation. And we have very good photographers. The response last year was so positive, the exhibits were well received. This year it’s going to be different. The aesthetic is going to be different because of the lineup. I don’t know what they’re going to show except for MM Yu and Jill Paz because she’s doing an exhibit in the lounge but the rest I don’t know and I’m looking forward to it.

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Art Fair Philippines tickets are available on the official website. Purchase your tickets early for perks.