ART FAIR Philippines 2016 (Feb. 18-21) broke attendance records with 21,000 visitors (up from 16,000 last year) during the five-day event at The Link, Ayala Center, Makati.
And most of them brought their wallets, it seems.
There were some pricey items on offer: seven Fernando Zobel paintings brought by the Madrid-based Galería Cayón, the most expensive of which were priced at about P13 and P14 million.
According to sources, these were the most expensive items at the fair, and the only Zobels left by the second to the last day.
The local galleries did just as well, several selling out by closing time. These included three Mark Justiniani installations priced at P4 to P5.7 million. The large tunnel installation he did specially for the fair was reportedly sold within the first hour of the VIP preview, as were several of the more desirable pieces on exhibit.
A couple of smallish Yoshitomo Nara paintings went for P3.5 million each.
Galleries are tight-lipped about who the biggest buyers were, but report a mix of local and foreign buyers.
All in all, it’s a bull market for Philippine art—and Asian art in general.
The obsession with price tags and equating an artwork’s aesthetic value with its peso value have left a lot of artists and art lovers with a nagging sense of unease.
In “Restoring Rationality to the International Art Market,” an opinion piece in Forbes magazine last year, Adam Friedman wrote:
“It appears that the art market has entered a new stage, one where the feeding frenzy for the possession of art has little connection with actual value. One is reminded of Oscar Wilde’s definition of the cynic who ‘knows the price of everything but the value of nothing’.”
He proposed developing a method for valuing artists and their work the way the global equities market values companies and their shares.
Still, some people are wondering if the current art boom is a bubble, and if so, when it will burst.