ARTISTS Aleah Angeles and Audrey Caabay may be short on words but their works surely spoke volumes during the recent Art Apart Fair in Singapore held at the highly awarded five-star eco-hotel Parkroyal on Pickering.
Both represented by Mendez Big and Small Art Co. of Manila, Angeles and Caabay brought with them paintings that had collectors in Singapore talking. When asked how it felt to have sold their artworks at Singapore’s premiere hotel-based art fair, the artists’ answers ranged from a simple “masaya” to “hindi ko ini-expect.”
Theirs were just some of the Filipino works that collectors in Singapore quickly picked up, along with pieces by foremost glass artist Ramon Orlina and the ones brought in by Cebu’s Qube Gallery.
“Qube Gallery stays true to its mission by bringing Cebu’s art to a global audience starting with Singapore,” said the gallery’s Bea Sagun. “With a diverse lineup of artists such as ours, we introduce Cebu as an emerging art hub in Asia.”
Orlina brought with him 13 new pieces of clear-glass sculptures that received praise from everybody.
“This fair is well managed and well represented,” Orlina said. “Despite the Philippines being given more exposure, you see variety from other countries as well. Even the hotel is beautiful, so the setting is very good.”
“We are very excited to host Art Apart Fair at Parkroyal on Pickering—with our iconic award-winning architectural design, light-filled guest rooms, sky gardens and open-air spaces in the heart of the Central Business District, our hotel provides the perfect backdrop to experience and appreciate such a varied exhibition of artworks,” said Lee Kin Seng, the hotel’s director of marketing communications. “Hosting Art Apart meets our brand’s promise of creating memorable experiences for our guests and also allows Parkroyal on Pickering to showcase its spirit and individuality.”
The strong showing by Filipino artists and galleries helped in making the 6th Art Apart Fair Singapore another resounding success. The decision by the fair’s founder and director Lim to focus on Philippine art for this sixth edition only gives credence to the continuous importance of Filipino artists globally.
“As this is the first time Filipino artworks are shown in such a large scale in Singapore, it is quite an eye opener for visitors,” Lim said. “Serious Singapore art collectors are impressed with the quality of the Filipino artworks and they are beginning to learn more about these emerging artists.”
According to Philippine Embassy Consul General Victorio Mario Dimagiba Jr., who was guest of honor during opening night, Philippine art has come a long way in Singapore. Over a decade ago, very few in the Garden City would have been able to distinguish Philippine art. Today, artist groups within the Filipino community in Singapore are very active and are promoted regularly by the embassy. He added that thanks to this year’s Art Apart, even more regional artworks had an opportunity to be seen internationally.
Of Lim, Dimagiba Jr. expressed hope that she would continue to champion Philippine art in future Art Apart editions.
“I would call her a very good convert to the beauty of Philippine art,” Dimagiba Jr. said. “She didn’t really know much about Philippine art but in the few times she has been to the Philippines, she was able to understand it. Hopefully, two or three additional galleries would take part next time as this is a very good stage for them to be seen by a very discerning group of buyers—our artists can definitely attract them.”
And this is something that Dr. Joel Mendez believes in passionately. An artist himself, Mendez said that giving the artists represented by his gallery the opportunity to be shown internationally was well worth the effort of flying them in—regardless of whether they sold an art work or not.
“I believe that the market in Singapore is receptive to Filipino artworks and Philippine galleries should spend more time and effort to promote their artworks here,” Lim said. “I am very pleased that galleries such as Qube, Mendez Big and Small, Ramon Orlina and Utterly Art was able to this.”
Utterly Art, a leading gallery in Singapore, has been one of the earliest and foremost supporters of Philippine art.
“As one of the biggest showcases of Philippine art in the world outside of Manila for a time, Utterly Art just could not sit out the 6th edition of Art Apart with the Philippines as focus,” said Utterly Art’s Justin Lee. “We were pleased to loan the organizer several works from young and established artists for the Presidential Suite, while maintaining a distinct pivot towards Singaporean artists in our exhibition room (at Parkroyal on Pickering) just in time for Singapore’s National Day. Sales on the first day were particularly busy with 11 works sold, making this one of our best outings with Art Apart yet.”
This edition of Art Apart was made more special with the generous support of Singaporean art patron Dr. Stanley Quek. A general medicine practitioner-turned-property magnate, Quek sponsored artists to create artworks during the fair, sales of which went in part to the artist and the other to a charity.
“It is a novel way of showing art in an environment where collectors can understand where it can be placed inside the home,” says Quek. “The affordability of the art would make it appealing to the man on the street. It gives a sense of planning. [The] most important thing is that Art Apart promotes emerging artists who may be struggling with promoting their works. It’s important that they have this showcase, the young artists are shown here, if they sell a piece, they become more confident, if they don’t then it should inspire them to get better.”
Ming Chew, who bought Caabay’s “Unworthy,” which features a ballerina and her many pairs of ballet shoes, has a familial connection with the Philippines as her godmother is from Pangasinan.
Argentinian-born architect Ernesto Bedmar, who currently calls Singapore home, said that he found the hotel-based boutique art fair concept easy and relaxing.
“The idea of visiting so many different galleries and seeing artists in one go is very exciting,” Bedmar says. “The feel of it is very different from the white box concept of formal art exhibitions and apart from the art, you are able to listen to musicians and enjoy a glass of wine or two while mixing it up with a very varied group of people.”
Bedmar will be having a private collection sale of 23 large paintings in January 2016 with a home viewing this October, organized by Lim and her Art Apart Fair team.