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Unforgettable: Filipino Artists Earn Significant Attention at Hong Kong Art Fairs

Editor-at-large Melo Esguerra take a look at the Filipino artwork highlighted at Hong Kong Art Week, and muses that its exciting times for the art scene.

In less than a decade, Hong Kong’s art market has matured into a certified powerhouse, growing into the third largest in the world, behind only New York and London. Art fairs and galleries have blossomed in the city–and the local art scenes thrive alongside them. Even the streets of the city are coming alive with art like never before.

In awe of Japanese artist Shinji Ohmaki’s Liminal Air SpaceTime (2018), presented by Mind Set Art Center. This installation takes a once solid object and dissolves it into a kinetic sculpture, creating an illusion of air as form.

The success of Art Basel Hong Kong (now on its sixth edition) has led a host of other art occupying the city. Art Central is timed to coincide with Art Basel, but aims for a more Asian focus. The twice-yearly Asia Contemporary Art Fair is a far more intimate affair, set over four floors of the Conrad Hotel. Auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s have set global records, trading everything from rare diamonds, to Basquiat and Fernando Zobels too.

This year, Art Basel reported that the show brought together a global mix of galleries spanning six continents, and outstanding artworks by established and new artists from across the world. It has become a singular gathering of international collectors and institutions, many of whom are first-time visitors of the show.

Blurring the boundaries between public and private spaces, Chou Yu-Cheng explores the concept of hygiene, technology and the distribution of labor through sculpture, performance and recital in his installation titled: Refresh, Sacrifice, New Hygiene, Infection, Clean, Robot, Air, Housekeeping, www.agentbong.com, Cigarette, Dyson, Modern People. (2017)

“Art Basel drives the cultural agenda and art scene in Asia with its annual show in Hong, and attracts many collectors, influential curators and art lovers from across the globe,” said Pearl Lam, founder and owner of Pearl Lam Galleries in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore. I couldn’t agree more.

Four leading galleries from Manila presented strong shows at the Art Basel this year, giving Filipino artists significant attention at the fair: 1335 Mabini, Artinformal, The Drawing Room, and Silverlens.

Utopian Cargo oil on canvas, 2017 by Manuel Ocampo. This work has been exhibited at the Pavilion of the Philippines at the 57th Venice Biennale last year.

I also spotted international galleries who were highlighting Filipino artists in their shows. Two of Manuel Ocampo’s artworks exhibited at the Philippine Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale, were highlighted at the show of Paris and Brussels-based Galerie Nathalie Obadia.

Artwork by Filipino artists Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, presented by STPI

Singapore-based STPI-Creative Workshop and Gallery, which specializes in artistic experimentation in the medium of print and paper, exclusively presented the works of Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan.

At the opening night of Altered Ego by Alfredo Esquillo, presented by J Studio at the Art Central. Left to right, artist Alfredo Esquillo, Melo Esguerra, Valentien Willie, and Jia and Gabbie Estella.

At the Art Central, it was a sold-out show on its opening day for J Studio, who presented a solo show of Filipino artist Alfredo Esquillo entitled Altered Ego.

Market by Fernando Amorsolo, oil on canvas, mounted on board, 1948. On sale at Sotheby’s.

Sotheby’s highlighted Southeast Asian Art at their First Look: Hong Kong Spring Sales. Rare artworks in color by Fernando Zobel were on sale, together with the works of Fernando Amorsolo, Jose Joya, Geraldine Javier, Pacita Abad, Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera, Ronald Ventura, among others.

With FIlipino artists and galleries’ strong showing at the Hong Kong art fairs this year, I am so optimistic that we will be raising our game next year. Exciting times ahead for the Philippine artists, curators, galleries and art scene as a whole.

More photos from the exciting show below!

Melo Esguerra in front of Ulla von Brandenburg’s 7 Curtains, presented by Pilar Corrias and Meyer Riegger. This installation explores how stories and rituals of the past constitute present societies. Viewers are invited to participate in her temporary ‘soft’ architecture, by walking through large painted bamboo curtains that materialize their movements.

 

A rare artwork in color by Fernando Zobel on sale at Sotheby’s

 

Shapes and Squares (1970) by Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera

 

Artwork by Filipino artists Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan

 

Remembrance (2018) by Gregory Halili, presented by Silverlens Gallery

 

So happy to bump into actor and art collector John Lloyd Cruz at Art Basel HK. I can’t wait to see his growing collection.

 

A powerful artwork made of gun powder and ink by Cai Guo-Qiang entitled Project to Extend The Great Wall of China by 10,000 Meters: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 10 (in five pieces, on sale at Sotheby’s)

 

Crying by Geraldine Javier, oil and embroidery on canvas in four parts, executed in 2011

 

Flower Garden by Marina Cruz, oil on canvas 2016. On sale at Sotheby’s.

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The Uncommon Traditions that Mexicans and Filipinos share when celebrating the Day of the Dead.

Dia de los Muertos

By Allain Dumon Fonte

The 2nd of November is All Soul’s Day, a holiday that is very important to many Filipinos to remember our loved ones who passed on. This is also widely celebrated in Mexico as “Dia De los Muertos” or in English, “The Day of the Dead”. And Mexicans celebrate the 2nd of November grander than they celebrate Christmas. Well, you can witness it from the Disney movie, “Coco”.

As All Soul’s Day or Dia de los Muertos is about to end, here are some interesting traditions and superstitions that Filipinos and Mexicans share:

1. IT IS NOT ON THE 31st OF OCTOBER

Dia de los Muertos or All Soul’s Day is not practiced on October 31st or on the Hallow’s Eve as many other western cultures practice; but we celebrate it on the 2nd of November. We celebrate November 1st as All Saint’s Day or the Day of the Holy, while in Mexico they call it Dia de los Innocentes or Dia de los Angelitos to commemorate the children who died too early in life.

2. THE RITUAL

Both in Mexico and in the Philippines, we visit the grave of our loved ones and we clean it well. This is a ritual to honour their resting places and to let them know that they are never forgotten.

3. FLOWERS INVITE SPIRITS

In Mexico, they believe that the scent of flowers attract spirits. So the flower offerings are invitation to their dead loved ones to visit the living families. While in the Philippines, we believe that flowers offered to the dead exalt the souls and somehow fill in the sadness that we feel when missing our dead loved ones.

Most of the time, Filipinos choose all-white flowers to offer because white is the absence of colour, which means the absence of Joy and happiness. White also symbolises purity of soul which we hope our dead loved ones will attain as they journey to heaven. While in Mexico, they have the yellow Mexican marigolds as the official flowers of the dead that will guide them in their journey to the afterlife.

4. THE LEGEND OF THE MONARCH BUTTERFLIES

Both cultures believe that monarch butterflies are dead loved ones who visit us and show their appreciation that we have not forgotten them. A presence of monarch butterflies also means that our dead loved ones are always there guiding us and looking after us.

5. A PICNIC IN THE GRAVEYARD

Spending a night at the graveyard and picnicking with the rest of the family may sound very creepy to many; but to both Filipino and Mexican cultures, picnicking and spending a night at the cemetery is a must to show our love to our dearly departed. It is the only time in the year that families gather and tell stories of the dead loved ones and how colourful or how great their lives were.

6. FOOD FOR THE DEAD

In Mexico, they have what they call “ofrendas” or an altar where the pictures of their dead loved ones are displayed and offered with flowers, candles, and their favourite food. Very similar to the Filipino culture of cooking the favourite food of our dead loved ones and everyone in the family enjoys the food for dinner.

My family tradition involves me driving all the way to Colon street and buy that famous Snow Sheen’s “pancit canton”. This is my granddad’s favourite snack. Sadly, the old Visayan Restaurant is no longer there. My late uncle and my late grandpa love their sweet ad and sour fish. We also set up an “ofrenda” on their graveyard and eat their favourite food while picnicking in the cemetery. We do not spend a night in the cemetery; but while we are picnicking there, we usually play the songs of Pilita Corrales and Susan Fuentes that my late grandpa used to listen every afternoon while enjoying his coffee, pan de sal, and pancit canton.

What about your family traditions? Share your thoughts by commenting to this article.

MODEL: Michael Joseph Mortola Enriquez & Alexis Wingfield
PHOTOGRAPHER: Gianne Paolo Anciano
HMUA/DESIGNER: Hazel Ocaba
STYLING: GPA Lifestyle + Clothing

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Catch Ted Lasso the Emmy Award Winning Comedy Series on Apple TV+

Catch Ted Lasso the Emmy Award Winning Comedy Series on Apple TV+

 

Rating: *****/ *****

The multi award–winning comedy series airing on Apple TV+ is one of my favorite shows.  Ted Lasso starring Jason Sudeikis is about a fun good-natured American football coached hired by a British soccer club (AFC Richmond in London) to become their new coach.  In spite of the fact that Ted has no experience or knowledge about British football/soccer, his positive demeanor and charm helps him overcome the animosity of the team’s players, staff and fans.  Eventually Ted wins over the team and the locals as they fight for position in the English Premier League.

The show won the 2021 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series and 7 Emmy Awards in its 2 seasons and Season 3 is just around the corner.  You can catch Seasons 1 & 2 of Ted Lasso on Apple TV+

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PANDEMIC DIARIES: Twelve Months Later

Photos taken by Pablo Quiza around Cebu City during the months of March, April and May 202

AS WE APPROACH ONE YEAR under pandemic times, we look back at March 2020 with fascination. And awe. We had 12 months of lockdown and survived the so called new normal. We lived with masks and alcohol even today. Carless roads and dark malls. Those were the early days of March, April and May.
It stretched to October and past Christmas. No Sinulog. Virtual parties on Zoom and virtual mass on You Tube and FB Live. We debated on the best meds to take if we get sick and whether to wear masks (please do!). We scampered for face shields and anti-viral sprays. Vitamins C and D and zinc. Later, we survived being swabbed and we learned the difference between a PCR and an anti-gene test. The latter cost less.

We dreaded the declarations of IATF mandated from Manila. And we got mad at the police chief who had a birthday party while his people were busy locking up everyone violating the lockdown. Most horrifying of all, we needed to produce IDs! Are you a resident of Barangay Lahug or Banilad? Are you employed and why are you still working? Everyone suffered thru endless checkpoints. Most sad of all are those using motorbikes, they seem to get the raw end of the deal since those with cars are not as scrutinized. We managed to trick the system by putting a big handwritten note in front of the car: COMPANY CAR, and zipped tru the police desks in the middle of the road. Don’t even think of travelling, by plane, boat or bus. The collection of the required documents is enough for one to get exposed to Covid.

We learned to shop online, order groceries and necessities thru delivery. We slowly moved towards cashless payments. Gcash and banks like Union Bank and China Bank with friendly apps are heroes for making life easy for most of us to spend what little cash we have to spend on Lazada or pay the VECO bill. Oh and we binged on K dramas on Netflix and You Tube, kamsaminada.
As 2021 enters, there are some good news. For those obsessed with news, you already know that 7,000 vaccines arrived last March 2 in Cebu, with more expected in the next few weeks. The death rate is not as high among those who caught this pesky virus, which tells us that doctors in the hospitals have some proven expertise in dealing with Covid. More cures should be in the horizon.

Meanwhile, lets continue dreaming of the day when we can cross borders again, even if its just Bohol or Boracay, Bangkok or Hong Kong. Ready those luggages and bags bought during the 3/3 sale in Shopee in preparation for the day when we can take the ferry or the plane for new adventures.

 

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