Walk into these art exhibits in Manila that range in subject and mediums, but align in a celebration of human experience.
With the fluctuating weather of rainfall and hot days, the many contemporary art galleries in the city are the perfect place to take refuge for a few hours. For starting or veteran collectors, painters or sculptors looking for inspiration, or even casual art enthusiasts, the galleries in Manila are thriving with new exhibits to see this August 2023.
Filipino artists are continuing to expand their practice with new conceptual and technical experiments. We’ve chronicled a list of must-see exhibits this August that celebrate our local artists’ proclivity to create.
1. Group exhibition curated by Yael Buencamino Borromeo, Essence Distilled: Homage to Arturo Luz at Silverlens, Manila
The oeuvre of Arturo Luz had a profound impact on the landscape of Philippine art. His aesthetic followed a pattern that was generally linear and geometric, while the National Artist developed the local art scene with the establishment of his Luz Gallery.
In Silverlens’ latest group exhibition curated by Yael Buencamino Borromeo, the contributing artists created their works for the exhibit after the artistic master, going beyond the stark linear abstractions and drawings that viewers would normally expect.
Ryan Villamael, known for his sculptural paper works, exhibited a multi-colored diorama of Luz’s sculptures, but in paper cut-out miniatures. James Clar conceptualized a light installation that reflects how coordinates of light fell on Luz’s Anito the day that Luz passed away. Meanwhile, Corrine de San Jose created music to call to mind the New Year’s Eve revelers in Luz’s festive paintings. Tina Bonoan, part of Luz’s team in the Design Center of the Philippines, weaved together neckpieces out of native vines, freshwater pearls, and stones that reference Luz’s minimalist aesthetic and use of local materials.
Other exhibiting artists include Poklong Anading, Lou Lim, Gary-Ross Pastrana, Jon Pettyjohn, Rachel Rillo, Eric Zamuco, and Arturo Luz, himself.
Essence Distilled: Homage to Arturo Luz will be on view at Silverlens, Manila from July 13 to August 12, 2023
2. Johanna Helmuth, Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky, curated by Norman Crisologo at Artinformal Makati
After her grand solo at the Projects section of Art Fair Philippines 2022, Johanna Helmuth is widely known for her highly-textured figures in a palette that often veers towards violet and murky blue hues. A 2018 winner of the Ateneo Art Awards, Helmuth has exhibited extensively abroad from Taipei to Milan, and New York.
Entering the gallery, the walls are painted in various dark shades, in choices that echo the curatorial practice of Norman Crisologo. This exhibit title quotes the Jimi Hendrix song “Purple Haze,” Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky shows Helmuth’s experiences, much of which were spent in the deserts of California. Helmuth reveals a few self-portraits on canvas as well as in sculptural form. Other renditions show intimate memories with family or cathartic moments with close friends. In the many experiences that Helmuth has endured, the exhibition title explains that, no matter how difficult life can become, the artist lifts her head in love and gratitude to kiss the heavens in the sky.
Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky will be on view at Artinformal Makati from July 28 to August 25, 2023.
3. Group exhibition curated by Arvin Viola, Open House at Modeka Art
The latest exhibition at Modeka Art Space was inspired by the Open House movement that started in Brighton in the U.K. in the 1980s. In line with the idea of a reception where anyone who wishes may visit to celebrate, the Open House exhibition of Modeka was marked by a night filled with music and arts in the creative community.
The thirty-two exhibiting artists utilized a diverse range of mediums, from traditional paintings to sculptures, and experimentations with textile, photography, and film. The ongoing exhibition is the third edition of Modeka’s Open House exhibit, a celebration of both emerging and established artists.
Entering the gallery transmits an experience of a range of formats, from the distinct works of Martin Honasan which feature shaped fabric on painted canvas, all the way to the ethereal paintings of nature by Corinne Dinglasan. The exhibit features sculptures of Salvador Dali-esque elephants by Edmond Yanga and pointy, multi-colored sculptures by Fernando Escora. Lara de los Reyes continued her practice of working with thread in yarn artworks with spelled-out expletives.
Other exhibiting artist include 0270501, Bembol dela Cruz, Raymond Cruz, GOX, Paul Jatayna, Jed Escueta, Pete Jimenez, Markéta Kolářová, Daniel La torre-Cruz, Jet Leyco, Lourd De Veyra, Paul Mondok, Kaloy Olavides, Pablo Biglang-awa, Ranelle Dial, Raymond Red, Resty Tica, Mimi Sanson-Viola, Brave Singh, and Rom Villaseran.
Modeka Arts: Open House will be on view at Modeka from August 5 to 26, 2023.
4. Aileen Lanuza, A Symphony of Roots at Galerie Stephanie
Since graduating from the University of the Philippines Diliman to study Fine Arts with a Major in Visual Communication in 1999, Lanuza has exhibited prolifically, with shows around Asia and in North America. Lanuza’s work largely focuses on the experience of women, so it is only apt that her latest exhibition A Symphony of Roots collaborates with Kaayo Modern Mindanao, a brand that supports traditions of weaving and the female artisans that make it.
Founded in 2016 by the mother-daughter team Mary Ann Montemayor and Marga Nograles, Kaayo has worked closely with the T’boli, B’laan, Mandaya, Bagobo Tagabawa, Tagakaolo, and Ata Manobo tribes to keep their weaving traditions alive. Lanuza worked closely with Mindanaoan artisans of Kaayo to interweave the patterns of indigenous weaves into her paintings.
The exhibit focuses on how the story of the Filipina is vested in Maria Clara, as the paintings show women wearing the national baro’t saya dress but with traditional indigenous styles. The figures are caressed by roses or yellow petals—floral elements typical of the artist’s style.
In efforts to raise awareness for weaving heritage, artist Lanuza says, “I share the same passion as Kaayo has, in maintaining our roots and bringing forth our custom indigenous weaves that are inherently Filipino… It is important for me in my works to highlight the best of what we are.”
A Symphony of Roots will be on view at Galerie Stephanie from August 9 to 27, 2023.
5. Group exhibition curated by Nicole Tee, There are always flowers for those who want to see them at West Gallery
Visual artist Nicole Tee is known for her poignant textile works that often emulate meaningful personal items and parts of nature. The latest exhibition curated by Tee at West Gallery draws from a study by Professor Jeannette Haviland-Jones, zeroing in on one of the most common elements in the world: the flower.
Artist Brisa Amir creates floral bursts of paper encased by thorns. Jason Dy, S.J. presents synthetic flowers hand-stitched on woven retaso-like books. While Isha Naguiat exhibits printed gradients of fluffy, pink-colored blooms. Miguel Puyat continues his 3-dimensional practice with painted, found cardboard cutouts that form multi-petaled flowers amidst embroidery. Mona Santos presents an exquisite hyperrealist close-up of white blooms.
Installed in the West Gallery space, There are always flowers for those who want to see them is lush with floral arrangements in a variety of mediums. Other exhibiting artists include Lesley-anne Cao, Kitty Kaburo, Ryan Villamael, and Jemima Yabes.
There are always flowers for those who want to see them will be on view at West Gallery from August 10 to September 9, 2023.
6. Ian Fabro, INCARNATION OF INCANTATIONS, curated by Norman Crisologo at Artinformal Makati
In 2019, curator Norman Crisologo worked with Ian Fabro at Art Fair Philippines to create his booth, “Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso.” The result was darkly religious. This same vein, guided by Crisologo’s curation, permeates Fabro’s creations at his latest exhibition.
Without a doubt, the heavily-layered work of Ian Fabro is a lot to take in. In his exhibit INCARNATION OF INCANTATIONS, Fabro continues to take influence from Classical and Baroque schools of art but goes deeper with influences that delve deeply into spiritual traditions around the world. From Shinto devotion, Greek Mythology, Filipino anting-antings (amulets), and other arcane beliefs.
Typical of his practice, Fabro hangs his paper-cut collages of intensely-drawn illustrations. Yet what stands out is the solid 3-dimensional layering he creates in his new sculptural works. The figures bring to mind Saintly or Marian statues, as their petticoats cascade with pressed votive pendants. Some ornaments reference the heavy jewelry of Indian brides. In these heavily textured pieces of brass ornaments, crystal beads, iron, wood, and shells, Fabro explores a wide range of materials to reference beliefs in higher powers held since ancient times.
INCARNATION OF INCANTATIONS will be on view at Artinformal Makati from July 28 to August 25, 2023.
7. Luis Hidalgo, Lay of the Land at MONO8
Since receiving his degree in Digital Filmmaking at the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, Luis Hidalgo, born 1995, has begun cultivating a practice that works primarily with video. His video installations challenge the way viewers perceive and consume images, often breaking from the conventional principles of film composition. His recent creations delve into micro-histories as a means to understand the past and speculate about the future.
Hidalgo’s current exhibition Lay of the Land examines the shifts in the Bangkal district in Makati, the artist’s hometown. Through a combination of maps, dynamic visuals, and polaroids, he delves into the impact of urban development and its effects on the lives of the local inhabitants.
Lay of the Land will be on view at Mono8 from August 3 to 23, 2023.