15 must-see art exhibitions in Manila this May 2024

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Manila art exhibitions
Hotter than Manila's scorching summer heat are these 15 must-see exhibitions

Pumping up Manila’s dizzying summer heat are some of the hottest art exhibitions in Manila



Pumping up Manila’s dizzying summer heat are some of the hottest art exhibitions in Manila in the first half of the year.

From a Japanese contemporary art show featuring works by Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto artists and simultaneous one-woman shows to a series of action paintings from a prolific female abstractionist in the country and a massive show of 100 watercolor drawings—May just went from sizzling to scorching.

Remember to not spread yourself too thin and to pace yourself as the fifth month of 2024 feels hotter than an oven. Start your summer art gallery pilgrimage at The Crucible Gallery in SM Megamall to catch the final week of Janice Liuson-Young’s show that features her explorations on color, luminosity, and movement.

Afterward, head to Makati to catch two group exhibitions: White Walls Gallery’s must-see show featuring Japanese contemporary artists from Gallery Kogure, YOD Gallery, and Kobayashi Gallery; and veteran curator Carlo Mar’s group show at Artist Space featuring his selection of some of the country’s most promising emerging artists.

Then, take a breather at Mo Space along Bonifacio High Street and find yourself riveted by Pardo de León’s immersive paintings and soothed by Audrey Lukban’s cloud-like shaped canvases.

In their own words, the artists, curators, art writers, and gallerists behind the 15 listed exhibitions tell us why braving Manila’s summer heat can be rewarding for those who are willing to step out of the comfort of their homes in the name of exciting, compelling, and unforgettable art.

Read on to discover the best of Manila art exhibitions this May 2024.


1. Audrey Lukban, “Anecdotal Evidence” at Mo Space

Audrey Lukban Manila Art exhibition
Audrey Lukban’s Anecdotal Evidence at MO Space. Photos by Patrick de Veyra and Audrey Lukban

‘”Anecdotal Evidence’ is a practice on creativity. Whether you perceive the paintings as crumpled blankets or as clouds, either interpretation is valid. It is dependent on perspective and openness to small forms of imagination in the every day.”

—Audrey Lukban

“Anecdotal Evidence” runs from April 27 to May 26, 2024 at Mo Space, 3rd floor, MOs Design Building, B2 Bonifacio High Street, 9th Avenue, Taguig


2. Elmer Borlongan, “Morning Rituals: 100 Drawings” at West Gallery

Elmer Borlongan drawings
Five of Elmer Borlongan’s 100 drawings from his solo show ‘Morning Rituals: 100 Drawings’ at West Gallery. Photos from West Gallery

“Drawing is equivalent to breathing. Every line is like a beat of the heart. This exhibit is a journal recording 100 days observing life around me.”

—Elmer Borlongan

“Morning Rituals: 100 Drawings” runs from May 9 to June 8, 2024 at West Gallery, 48 West Avenue, Quezon City


3. Imelda Cajipe Endaya, “Rigodon” at Silverlens

Imelda Cajipe Endaya art exhibit
Imelda Cajipe Endaya’s ‘Rigodon’ at Silverlens Gallery. Photo from Silverlens Gallery

“‘Rigodon,’ Imelda Cajipe Endaya’s inaugural exhibition at Silverlens, bursts with rhythm and vigor. In one work, four yolk-like suns align vertically behind dark clouds, as if in formation. There is order in these compositions—filled with grids and rows and repetitions. But its little details and movements feel free. Infinite loose, abstract lines move with grace across colorful planes, and tracing their paths feels like watching the improvised steps of a modern dance. Just as you begin to flow with its rhythm and beat, the dancer twists, turns, or leaps—and surprises….

Endaya feels deeply—and this show reveals how her capacity to express joy is deepened by her empathy with the world around her. She believes that the joy she finds in art-making is part of what makes her human. One might argue that—in large part—it is this joy, alongside our historical struggles, that makes us, Filipinos, human too.”

—Nicole Soriano, “Rigodon” exhibition notes

“Rigodon” runs from April 26 to May 5, 2024, at Silverlens Gallery, 2263 Chino Roces Ave., Makati City


4. Janice Liuson-Young, “Clouds Come Floating,” curated by Patrick de Veyra at The Crucible Gallery

Janice Liuson-Young art exhibition
Dean Janice Liuson-Young’s ‘Clouds Come Floating’ at The Crucible Gallery. Photos from Patrick de Veyra

“More than a response to inner musings, Janice Liuson-Young’s solo exhibition, entitled ‘Clouds Come Floating,’ is a transcendence of the tangible through a connection with the observable world. Ralph Waldo Emerson writes, ‘To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.’ 

Comprising 18 works, each painting is composed of sweeping horizontal strokes, primarily singular in nature, self-contained within the confines of the canvas atop a solid backdrop. On occasion, Young deliberately employs a second and third stroke to introduce a new color, layering hues to create dualities in harmony and disharmony. Annexing her distinctive visual vocabulary, the artist oscillates between translucency and opacity, intertwining positive and negative space, and attuning the viewer to disparities of the observable and veiled.

Characterized by the expansive aquamarine brushstroke and accented by silver, the diptych ‘Untitled’ suggests a disrupted continuity, merging beyond the borders of both canvases while creating a temporal gap in the abrupt separation of the diptych. The duality of connection and division displaces the viewer in-between. This metaphysical space functions as a doorway between the physical manifestations of paint and the spiritual, adding to the negotiation of the tangible.”

—Jillianne Ng, Hong Kong-based art writer on Janice Liuson-Young’s “Clouds Come Floating”

“Clouds Come Floating” runs from April 23 to May 5, 2024 at The Crucible Gallery, Artwalk, Building A SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City


READ MORE: The planetary diet with Mesa ni Misis


5. Pardo de León, “The Crack, the Gap, the Alleyway” at Mo Space

Pardo de León Manila art exhibit
Pardo de León’s ‘The Crack, the Gap, the Alleyway’ at Mo Space. Photos by Patrick de Veyra

“Some of my works tend to straddle the line between abstraction and figuration, a dualism that I like to dwell on. The recurring images within my body of work are visual habits apparent through the years, forming an underlying pattern. 

Two of my newly restored paintings: a 6×6 feet piece from my 1987 thesis at the UPCFA as well as an 8×8 feet piece done in 1988 are currently on show alongside new paintings at Mo Space.

This 8×8 is one of two paintings slated for an exhibition in 1989 in Riga in the former Soviet Russia. Although the paintings made it to Riga, the show did not take place since the paintings got lost in the warehouse receiving tons of relief goods for earthquake victims in Armenia.

My show at MO Space is mounted in memory of my father, Antonio Adriatico de Leon.”

—Pardo de León

The Crack, the Gap, the Alleyway runs from April 27 to May 26, 2024 at Mo Space, 3rd  floor, MOs Design Building, B2 Bonifacio High Street, 9th Avenue, Taguig


6. Plet Bolipata, “Language of Memories: Incubation Period” at West Gallery

Plet Bolipata art exhibit
Plet Bolipata’s ‘Language of Memories: Incubation Period’ at West Gallery. Photos from Plet Bolipata and West Gallery

“Four years ago, at the onset of COVID, I wrote, ‘This quarantine is giving me the energy to get my painting groove back.’

I had my good friend, painter/restorer Thomas Daquioag, restretch my old 1996 2×2 feet works from New York to incorporate into bigger 5.5×5.5 feet canvases, randomly, and treat the old works like found objects. It was like my older self collaborating with my younger self. For these works, I wanted to paint solely in oils because painting is my true love.

I pray, I take a deep breath… let the creative spirit flow. ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’” —Plet Bolipata

“Language of Memories: Incubation Period” runs from May 9 to June 8, 2024 at West Gallery, 48 West Avenue, Quezon City


7. Pope Bacay, “Walking is a Dwelling” at Artinformal

Pope Bacay artinformal exhibit
Pope Bacay’s ‘Walking is a Dwelling’ at Artinformal. Photos from Pope Bacay

“‘Walking is a Dwelling’ features a series of paintings intricately composed in a collage-like manner, reminiscent of assembling a structure. Each piece comprises a blend of images capturing various elements encountered during a leisurely stroll. From commonplace objects to picturesque views, the collection encompasses a wide array of subjects, including the intricate detailing of windows and doors, street signage, and outdoor lamp posts. The show also serves as a discovery of beauty and meaning in the details that often go unnoticed. It’s a celebration of the ordinary.”

—Pope Bacay

“Walking is a Dwelling” runs from April 25 to May 23, 2024 at Artinformal, The Alley at Karrivin, Chino Roces Extension, Makati City


8. Renzo Navarro, “Who Needs a Blade?” at Tarzeer Pictures

Renzo Navarro Tarzeer Pictures
Renzo Navarro’s ‘Who Needs a Blade?’ at Tarzeer Pictures. Photos from Tarzeer Pictures

“In Renzo Navarro’s Who Needs a Blade?, the artist’s cutting finds formidable targets: his body of work, abstraction itself, the little acts of violence that constitute the healing process, and what it means to begin anew.

Renzo’s practice has often involved taking commonplace objects—office materials, scissors, paper clips—and twisting up their intended utilitarian function. It is through this sabotage, and in the gap between form and meaning, where we see Renzo use these tools to mend and attack the biographical—paper-thin as it can often feel. In this juncture of his artistic career, Renzo expresses a yearning for restoration.”

—Jam Pascual, “Who Needs a Blade?” exhibition notes

“Who Needs a Blade?” runs from April 25 to June 6, 2024 at Tarzeer Pictures, 2288 Chino Roces Ave., Makati City


READ MORE: Art Fair Philippines shines a spotlight on photography 


9. Shannah Orencio, “Rituals of Recovery” at Vinyl on Vinyl

Shannah Orencio painting
Shannah Orencio’s ‘Rituals of Recovery’ at Vinyl on Vinyl. Photo from Shannah Orencio

“The act of gathering and collecting plants mirrors our primal instinct to seek out and gather resources for survival, tapping into a primal urge deeply ingrained within our collective consciousness. Moreover, the act of nurturing and caring for our home gardens serves as a powerful metaphor for self-care and introspection. As we tend to the needs of our plants, we simultaneously tend to our own emotional and spiritual well-being, finding solace and serenity amidst the chaos of modern life. 

In essence, ‘Rituals of Recovery’ invites us to reflect on the symbiotic relationship between humans and nature, and the profound impact that cultivating green spaces within our homes can have on our psychological and emotional health. It is a celebration of the beauty of botanical diversity, and a testament to the transformative power of reconnecting with our roots in the soil.”

—Shannah Orencio

“Rituals of Recovery” runs from May 4 to 29, 2024, at Vinyl on Vinyl, La Fuerza Plaza, Chino Roces Ave., Makati City


10. Various artists, “Between Grief and Hope, an Archipelago,” curated by Emerging Islands at MONO8

MONO 8 art exhibitions
‘Between Grief and Hope, an Archipelago,’ curated by Emerging Islands at MONO8. Photo from MONO8

“The world-as-archipelago hangs not on the universal, but on the particular: it is the world opened up by the polyp that builds a reef; the mushroom that connects a forest; the vine that helps an island hold onto its sand. Not the New World, nor the Old World, but the World as it already is, going about its cycles. It is world-building because the world is always building itself.

As it is, the archipelago stands up against the Continent, an idea that rewrote the world in its image, and whose steel and plastic monuments are bringing us to our planet’s sixth mass extinction event. The archipelago responds as it always has: by being alive. It is an irrepressible cacophony. It is indiscernible fluidity. It is an embodied paradox. It is the world insisting that we follow its lead: to be ecological, decolonizing, and co-creative. To be here, together, and alive.

We have gathered here artists and storytellers we’ve encountered through uncanny constellations made, whose work traces the outline of what we too are sounding for, an obscure shape slowly emerging from the ocean depths, whose sense and meaning we may never fully know. We hear your voice, faint or loud, in the cacophony. We meet your gaze across islands and seas.”

—Nicola Sebastian, David Loughran, Samantha Turingan, and Hannah Reyes Morales of Emerging Islands

“Between Grief and Hope, an Archipelago” features the work of Alaga, Bree Jonson, Catalina Africa, Cian Dayrit, Derek Tumala, Eisa Jocson, Gab Mejia, Irene Bawer Bimuyag, Isola Tong, Jao San Pedro, Joar Songcuya, Joshua Serafin, Lawrence Ypil, Nice Buenaventura, Rocky Cajigan, Ryan Villamael, Veronica Lazo, runs from April 20 to May 26, 2024 at MONO8, BLK 113,  53 Connecticut Street, Greenhills, San Juan.


11. Various artists, “Figure It Out” at Ysobel Gallery

 Ysobel Gallery art exhibition
Ysobel Gallery’s ‘Figure It Out’ features the recent works by Zuh Dai, Erika Mayo, Julieanne Ng, and Zabiel Nemenzo. Photos from Ysobel Gallery

“My husband Mark and I decided to organize a group exhibition featuring all-women artists. We wanted to celebrate female artists that use unexpected and exciting materials and processes coupled with compelling visual languages and sensibilities. We are excited over works that provide fresh perspectives on varied subject matters. As gallerists from Negros Occidental, we seek to put the spotlight on regional artists as well. Both Erika Mayo and Zabiel Nemenzo are from Bacolod, Zuh Dai is from Bohol, and Julieanne Ng presents works that reflect deep cultural affinity with our Chinese-Filipino community. Ysobel Gallery believes that amplifying the reach of regional artists enriches the Philippine contemporary art scene as a whole. We are thrilled to present more exhibitions like this.” 

—Patrice Tiongco, Ysobel Gallery co-founder

“Figure It Out” features the work of Zuh Dai, Erika Mayo, Julieanne Ng, and Zabiel Nemenzo runs from April 27 to May 8, 2024 at Ysobel Gallery, 2nd floor, Shops at Serendra, BGC, Taguig.


12. Various artists, “Mga Liham Pag-ibig sa Lungsod/Love Letters to the City,” curated by Carlomar Arcangel Daoana at ArtistSpace

 Carlomar Arcangel Daoana art exhibit
Carlormar Arcangel Daoana, curator of ‘Mga Liham Pag-ibig sa Lungsod Love Letters to the City’ at ArtistSpace. Photos from Carlomar Arcangel Daoana

“Mga Liham Pag-Ibig sa Lungsod/Love Letters to the City, which began as an idea to pay homage to the urban contexts we live in, is my jump-off point for future exhibitions rooted in the desire to cast the net as widely as I can: to assemble a roster of artists whom I believe are contributing something tender, urgent, and important to Philippine contemporary art and are reflecting through their works the precarity of the times. For this current show, two artists come to mind who best represent these tendencies: Clark Neola and Honey Maglalang, who, through their respective figurative works, explore this contradiction: how to be an artist in solitude and yet remain vitally linked to the hopes, dreams, and fears of the common Filipino. I’m proud of the work that all 28 artists have produced for the show, which I envision to have further iterations (or “volumes,” as I call them) for years and years to come.” 

—Carlomar Arcangel Daoana, exhibition curator

“Mga Liham Pag-ibig sa Lungsod/Love Letters to the City” features the work of Jowee Aguinaldo, Candice Arellano, Jonas Miguel S. Arlegui, RC Caringal, Rap Carloto, Kendall Colindon, Sarah Conanan, Art de Leon, Eugene Dominguez, Joseph Fraylon, Kim Gaceja, Gamalinda, Siefred Guilaran, Mark Hernandez, Philipp Ines, Rodel Jacintos, Honey Maglalang, Maribel Magpoc, Kenneth P. Mamaril, Chad Montero, Nic Navarro, Clark Neola, Charles Rosal, Patricia Santos, Benedict John Simbulan, Brave M. Singh, Jerline Sunga, and Franz Marion Vocalan runs from April 19 to May 5, 2024, at ArtistSpace, Ayala Museum Annex, Makati City.


13. Various artists, “Nami: In Waves” at White Walls Gallery 

japanese artists White Walls Gallery
White Walls Gallery collaborated with Japan-based Gallery Kogure, YOD Gallery, and Kobayashi Gallery in ‘Nami: In Waves.’ Photos by Patrick de Veyra

“An image so iconic that it has inspired one of the most widely used emojis, Katsushika Hokusai’s woodblock print ‘Under the Wave off Kanagawa’ (Kanagawa oki nami ura) has become a symbol for the global reach and soft power of Japanese contemporary art, design, and culture. This wave or nami of contemporary Japanese contemporary art, informed by the complex and dynamic changes in postwar Japanese society, is what White Walls Gallery seeks to present in the group exhibition “Nami: In Waves.” In cooperation with three Japan-based galleries—Gallery Kogure, YOD Gallery, and Kobayashi Gallery—White Walls Gallery brings together works by Izumi Akiyama, Yasunobu Tsutsumi, Tamao Murakami, Mizuki Jones, KAC, Motonori Uwasu, Toshiyuki Shibakawa, Ryosuke Tei, Theo Haze, Kishi Omori, Sanae Takahata, and Akiko Nakaya in a group exhibition that is structured as a collection of works that zero in on personal and collective memory, innocence and the struggle of human existence, and street culture and urbanism.”

—Patrick de Veyra, “Nami: In Waves” exhibition notes 

“Nami: In Waves” features the work of Izumi Akiyama, Yasunobu Tsutsumi, Tamao Murakami, Mizuki Jones, KAC, Motonori Uwasu, Toshiyuki Shibakawa, Ryosuke Tei, Theo Haze, Kishi Omori, Sanae Takahata, and Akiko Nakaya runs from April 26 to May 9, 2024 at White Walls Gallery, La Fuerza Plaza, Chino Roces Ave., Makati City.


READ MORE: 30 women artists, curators, designers, and art educators to watch out for in 2024


14. Various artists,  “Running Backwards into the Future,” curated by James Clar at Modeka

Modeka art exhibit
Flyer by Judy Freya Sibayan Archive. Portrait by Jason Tan

“‘Running Backwards Into the Future’ features works from 10 established artists from the Philippines who are actively working today. They are museum and biennial level artists with practices that have spanned and evolved over decades. The exhibition features early works (from the late ’70s till early ’90s) that became critical junctures to their practice.

I was interested in the local art scene before the collective memory of the internet set in. The idea of ‘new’ is sometimes fetishized, when concepts explored in the past can be just as radical. This exhibition provides insight into the early stages of these artists and gives us a further understanding of their practice, and the distance they (along with us) have traveled.”

—James Clar 

With support from Asia Art Archive, “Running Backwards into the Future” features the work of Gus Albor, Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan, Nilo Ilarde, Neal Oshima, Renato Orara, Bernie Pacquing, Soler Santos, Angel Velasco Shaw, Judy Freya Sibayan, and Gerry Tan,  opens on May 16, 2024 at Modeka, Chino Roces Ave., Makati City.


15. Victoria Keet, “Zoolander” at Sampaguita Projects

Victoria Keet art exhibit
Victoria Keet’s ‘Zoolander’ at Sampaguita Projects. Photos from Victoria Keet

“With the body positioned as a key site, my work often examines the gray areas between appropriate and inappropriate imagery. Although the history of zoophilia and bestiality in art dates as early as the prehistoric rock drawings of Europe, explicit legal prohibitions of human sexual contact with animals render depictions of the subject taboo and prone to censorship. Yet could such artistic portrayals be more corrupting, unethical, or ‘wrong’ than the overt, sexually charged media that inundates us daily? The show explores society’s inclinations and contradictions concerning what should be displayed and what shouldn’t.”

—Victoria Keet 

“Zoolander” runs from April 28 to May 22, 2024 at Sampaguita Projects, 13 Manager Avenue, GSIS Village, Project 8, Quezon City.

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