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Devotion dominates Art Fair Philippines 2016

In its first three years, Art Fair Philippines worked hard to awe as soon as you set foot on the transformed parking lot that serves as its venue. In 2013 there was Ronald Ventura. In 2014, Louie Cordero's psychedelic ping-pong tables. Last year, it was Robert Feleo's creatures.

This year, the fair is a little more reserved in its layout. Perhaps it no longer feels the need to be flashy to attract people. With a more traditional layout, Art Fair Philippines shows confidence—the art is enough. Let it and the people breathe.



Trusted galleries remain crowded: Silverlens, WEST, Secret Fresh, and MO Space were filled with familiar faces and pieces during the vernissage Wednesday evening. A scaled-down offer from Gabriel Barredo at Silverlens is sure to appease his fans, while previous special exhibitor Kawayan De Guia joins a roster of artists presenting found object art in MO Space's nook.

Following the footsteps of "Manufacturer's Advice: Contents May Vary" by Leo Abaya for Tin-Aw Art Gallery, Art Cube transforms its space from exhibit to experience.

"His Only Son" by Daniel Dela Cruz comments on faith in devotion with meticulously made brass sculptures of people contorted by their situation into awkward positions. On the walls, Dela Cruz also presents his interpretation of the Seven Deadly Sins—it sounds trite, but it's overwhelmingly beautiful.

Art Cube's booth is enclosed and the rest of the Art Fair is tuned out as you walk into the dark. The space is filled with Dela Cruz's sculptures and you might find yourself wishing for more eyes just to be able to look at everything at the same time.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is Mark Justiniani's special exhibit, also in an enclosed booth. The art is sparse, but is sure to impress as much as it did during the first Art Fair. His work with mirrors is a hit on Instagram, especially the tunnel, but it would be a shame if you miss to admire the work he placed on the Cathedral-like piece.

In my personal opinion though, the most intriguing part of the Art Fair is Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan's "Calma Art Gallery" installation—a replica of art stalls where paintings are peddled for cheap.

It speaks volumes about art and the value that is placed on it based on a number of arbitrary criteria. The installation, without being too blunt about it, dares to ask what art is from the perspective of mass production and the commercialization of the industry.

Antonio Calma, the man who produces paintings for "lowbrow" galleries, no doubt loves the art as much as any other artist does. But what's in a name when it comes to this world and why do his pieces sell for peanuts while others earn millions with paint splatter?

"We have discussed theories of art, notions of co-creation and authorship and how art is valued in accordance to the machinations of the art world," Isabel Aquilizan wrote as an introduction to piece. "Most of all, however, we have discussed what life really is. Calma has made me take a second look at what the visual arts really are and has made me examine our works further, and, by extension, our art and our lives." — BM, GMA News

Art Fair Philippines runs from February 18 to 21 (Thursday to Sunday), from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at The Link's carpark (levels 5, 6 and 7), Parkway Drive, Ayala Ave., Makati City .

Tickets are priced at P150 (P50 for students with valid IDs; free admission for students from Makati with valid IDs).