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Art Fair Philippines 2019: How to make the most of your day there

Intimidating, highbrow, full of bigshot collectors and socialites — if this is the impression keeping you from attending Art Fair Philippines, then we hope that this guide will help you change your mind.

For three days every year, the humble car park of The Link in Makati is transformed into one of the foremost art fairs in Southeast Asia, with 52 leading galleries this year featuring exhibitions of local and foreign artists in the venue.

Even if you’re not a diehard art enthusiast, a trip to the Art Fair is a visually and intellectually enriching experience. Here’s how to navigate the fair without being intimidated, and how to maximize your time there.


Christian Tamondong. Photo by Rachelle Medina
Christian Tamondong. Photo by Rachelle Medina

1. Go in the morning, preferably on the first day

Sunday — which is the last day of the Art Fair — is when things get really crowded, and lines to get inside are usually long, so try to visit on the first day, first thing at 10am. You can buy passes at the registration desk on the fourth floor; entrance fees are P350 for general admission.

2. Attend the guided tours

Catch the guided tours to make things easier and more informative, especially if it’s your first time to visit the Art Fair. The complimentary tours are conducted by photographer Adriana Griner, and are held daily from February 22 to 24, 11am to 12 noon. Arrive early at 10:45am to attend; a maximum number of 20 participants are allowed per tour.

READ: Art Fair Philippines 2019: What to expect

3. Or explore it on your own, from the fourth floor up

If you missed the guided tours, you can still work your way around the fair by exploring it leisurely on your own, starting from the fourth-floor registration area. The fifth floor houses the ArtFairPH/Projects, while the sixth and seventh floors hold the various galleries and refreshment hubs.  

“The fair is really overwhelming. The logical thing would be to go from the registration [on the fourth floor] and make your way up,” advises Ricky Francisco, curator of Fundacion Sanso.


David Medalla's 'A Stitch in Time.' Photo: Rachelle Medina
David Medalla's 'A Stitch in Time.' Photo: Rachelle Medina

4. Go straight to the 5th floor for ARTFAIRPH/PROJECTS

Limited time? Make a beeline for the ARTFAIRPH/PROJECTS then. These commissioned exhibits and installations are all conveniently located on the fifth floor.

Most of the works are participatory in nature: “A Stitch in Time” by David Medalla lets guests sew keepsakes onto a bolt of cloth, while “Step on the Sand and Make Footprints” by the late artist Ray Albano, will have them leave their footprints on a large and wide sandbox. Put aside some time here to experience the art.

RELATED: Art Fair Philippines 2019 goes big with special Fernando Botero exhibit

5. Visit all the galleries that catch your eye

To make things simple, just head straight to the galleries where the works instantly catch your eye. “The organizers thought of the gallery placements based on their proposals…so walking through and enjoying the sights would be a good way to do it. That way, you could also decide on what art you like,” says Francisco.

Depending on how long you view the works, visiting each and every exhibit and gallery will take you half a day.


Olivia D'Aboville. Photo: Rachelle Medina
Olivia D'Aboville. Photo: Rachelle Medina

6. Take it one step further and attend the talks

Attend any of the talks held by curators, artists, and experts daily from 11am onwards. The topics this year run the gamut from selfies and the importance of photography as art to practical topics like taxes for creatives. For schedules, click here.  

7. Before you go, grab a bite or shop

There are a number of conceptual pop-up cafes on each floor where you can take a break. These include the sleek Julius Baer bar, the lush and charming Tsaalaya café designed by Yolanda Johnson, and the achingly hip Art Bar where you can sip cocktails amongst art books.


Tsaalaya. Photo: Rachelle Medina
Tsaalaya. Photo: Rachelle Medina

Want a souvenir? Snap up rare reading material from Art Books PH, or buy a shirt by Doktor Karayom at Artwork on the fourth floor.

READ: Japanese art collective teamLab will show in the PHL for the very first time, thanks to this Singaporean gallery

8. Can’t attend? There’s still public art

If you can’t make it during fair hours, there are a lot of public art installations for the fair’s 10 Days of Art initiative until February 24. There is a video projection of the birth of Venus at the fountain of the Manila Peninsula fronting Ayala Avenue, and an installation by Olivia d’Aboville and Neal Oshima at the koi pond at Greenbelt Park, among others.


Fernando Botero. Photo: Rachelle Medina
Fernando Botero. Photo: Rachelle Medina

9. Use the Art Fair as a kick-off point for even more art

“Where else can you find more than 50 galleries under one roof? If you’re a newbie at art, let this be your kick-off point,” says gallery owner and Museum Foundation of the Philippines president Albert Avellana.

“Since it’s got all the art forms and styles in one place, you can decide which type of art you like. And then afterwards, go out and see even more art by visiting the museums.”

The Museum Foundation of the Philippines will provide tours to the National Museum of Natural History for Art Fair visitors, and you get a 20 percent discount on the Ayala Museum admission fee when you present your Art Fair ticket on the fair dates. — LA, GMA News

Art Fair Philippines will run from February 22 to 24, 10am to 9pm The Link, Ayala Center, Makati City; website