When millennials go malling at Shangri-La Plaza, it’s not just for the restaurants, retail options, and other services at the upscale shopping and lifestyle destination. They also come for the art.
“We’ve always supported art and culture,” Shangri-La Plaza EVP and general manager Lala Fojas says. “Art comes in many forms, and all around the mall we’ve created little corners to bring it closer to our guests.”
For Art Month in July, Shangri-La Plaza buzzed with activities and exhibitions catering to its core market. There was a concert featuring the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra with special guest Lani Misalucha last July 7, and visual showcases courtesy of the Ateneo Art Awards (at the Grand Atrium till July 29) and the Saturday Group of Artists’ 50th Anniversary Exhibit (at the East Atrium and Luxury Lane till July 30).
And it doesn’t end with art appreciation. Many of Manila’s 20- and 30-somethings are actually into art for investment.
“They come with an open mind,” says Connie Aguila of Artistree, a longtime gallery of the Shang’s Art Plaza area that carries works by national artists and modern-day masters including Ang Kiukok, Arturo Luz, Ed Castrillo, Araceli Dans, Juvenal Sansó, José Joya, Romulo Galicano.
“When I started buying art in the 1980s,” Aguila recalled, “wala pang mga bata (there were no young collectors yet). Today, instead of buying a watch or a car, they invest in a painting.”
Funding for fine art usually comes from a parent or godparent, who will issue a generous check as a gift for a special occasion, like a wedding day.
As starting and seasoned collectors know, a painting’s value appreciates over time, influenced no doubt by the artist. In the ’80s, Aguila sold paintings to two friends, both for P20,000. One was a piece by Philippine genre painter Slim Torres, the other a smaller work by expressionist Ang Kiukok.
Fast-forward to 2015. Aguila sold her friend’s Kiukok for millions, while the painting by Torres, whose works can be found in private and corporate collections as well as the White House, remains unsold at P200,000.
Still, that’s not to say collectors should focus only on famous last names and their works. Investment that it is, an artwork is primarily a beloved possession that beautifies a home and brings joy to its owner and all who appreciate it.
Perhaps young buyers can take their cue from a old saying among veteran collectors, one posted on the wall of another Shang gallery, Artologist: “Buy with your eyes, not with your ears.”
Immersing in the art scene also helps beginners develop their taste and discover fresh talent. At the Shang, there are two areas where collectors, both old and new, can browse and buy. Art Plaza on the third level of the Main Wing features classic and contemporary art from Artistree, The New Gallery, Art Circle, Summit Art Gallery, Artologist and Galerie Rafael.
For those into antiques and curios, there’s The Vintage Shop and Banggerahan.
More modern art can be had at Galerie Stephanie and the Saturday Group Gallery at the fourth level of the East Wing.
“It’s cyclical,” Fojas says of collectors’ spending habits. “In difficult times, they hold off, but when times are good, they always come back. Art appreciation never goes away.”