Ten of Metro Manila’s finest contemporary art galleries have put together a fresh and new tent-pole event for the Philippine Art Month calendar. It’s called ALT Philippines, and they are saying that they want to “re-frame the art show.”
Set in SM Aura in Taguig City’s Fort Bonifacio area, the show opened today and we were there at the preview to see what they’ve brought out So have they been able to do something different? We visited the show, and here are some things we saw that made the visit worth the trip to SM Aura.
1. Valerie Chua
As the headliner for Underground Gallery’s exhibits, Valerie Chua expanded on themes she’s been exploring for the last couple of years. Valerie first made waves in the local art scene with her watercolor works, but has switched to oil after some time studying art abroad. At ALT, we see her classical old-world statues once again, but this time, we see elements of a younger Valerie’s brighter colors reappearing in her canvas work. The god-like figures are set in somewhat ordinary modern settings, such as a kitchen, or in an art studio with colored painter’s tapes. Valerie makes one of the strongest showings among the displays in this first ever ALT Philippines.
2. Galleria Duemila
One of the best selection and curation of art comes from Galleria Duemila of Pasay City.
It can be argued that we are somewhat in a post-canvas era for contemporary art, and Duemila has managed to put together a collection of work that best exemplifies this movement locally. From Filipino mixed media textile, to lightboxes, to sculpture, there’s a richness to the experience of their section of the show floor that is unique and very well balanced.
This is best represented by a fully functional and designed-from-the-ground-up mahjong table and seating set, complete with custom designed playing tiles — different sets for each seat at the table. At Duemila, you’ll experience technical excellence with undertones that seem to comment on both political and cultural cold wars that run through the country.
3. Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery
No surprise at ALT is thestrong showing of Vinyl on Vinyl gallery, who have always been on the forefront of the Philippine street art scene. Their booth balances a ring of fresh work by Dennis Bato, Archie Oclos, Doctor Karayom, and a fresh larger-than-life statue from Reen Barrera that features a very subtle but powerful mechanical articulation that shifts the sculpture’s eyes from side to side. Then in the center of the ring, you have a very rich selection of the gallery’s back catalog.
Among the most exciting and immersive installations at ALT are back-to-back build outs by Tyang Karyel and Jellyfish Kisses, who have both made walk-through or sit-in displays for you to interact with and touch the art.
4. Derek Tumala’s Pure Impermanence
At the center of the show floor is a series of 10 video displays. Truth be told, this is the only installation at the event that really has room to breathe. It’s a post-modern commentary on life experienced through mobile devices, recorded as ongoing diaries, to be recalled through this form of media again and again.
Be sure to sit down and try to immerse yourself in the viewing. It’s definitely worth taking the extra time, and experiencing the art several times over will allow it to speak to you several times and in different ways.
5. Art for Taal
The organizers of ALT have made a clear effort to support the plight of those families displaced by the recent volcanic activity surrounding the Taal crater over the last month. Not only will all ticket proceeds from the event go to that charitable cause, but they have also set up a central area in the event where all ten galleries have sent work to be sold for Taal as well.
And this is a good way to wrap up a summary like this one, by ultimately asking the question: who should be going to ALT? Who is this for? Well, while this is a reasonable opportunity to simply view and appreciate Filipino contemporary and street art, the truth is that this show will best be appreciated by those looking to actually buy art. While many galleries are showing a good amount of newer works, they have all brought significant amounts of back-catalog pieces that you should be able to get at great prices. And if you are in the market to buy, the Art for Taal section is one spot where you can maximize your investment and give to a good cause.
ALT Philippines 2020 runs from Feb 14-16 in SM Aura’s SMX Convention Center