15 art exhibitions to cap off the first half of 2024

OCTOBER 27, 2022

art exhibitions

15 evocative, introspective, and thought-provoking shows cap off the first half of 2024

LIFESTYLE.INQ’s mid-year list of must-see shows begins with a riveting sculptural and architectural commentary on bodily entropy—a metaphor for the artist’s late grandfather’s tremors, a solitary neon light bulb reminiscent of a lightning bolt is situated at the center of a room with steel-clad walls. 

As the viewer moves within the installation, the light emanated by the ragged linear sculpture ripples and undulates through a foreboding sea of uneven mirrored surfaces. Like an inconspicuous tremor, an atmosphere marked by a silent yet lingering sense of disturbance is felt.

From an installation that poignantly captures an artist’s personal confrontation with a loved one’s chronic degenerative illness, and an AI-generated image of a mushroom cloud that is painstakingly hand-rendered through a controlled oxidation process, to an ambitious institutional exhibition that presents awe-inspiring latex “skins”  forcibly peeled from architectural structures and even a group exhibition that promotes rehabilitation and reform by shedding light to the brilliance of persons deprived of liberty (PDL), 2024’s must-see mid-year exhibitions invite viewers to confront the brevity of life, contemplate the irrationality of war, question and subvert long-held societal constructs, and celebrate the triumph of the human spirit against all odds.

In their own words, the artists, curators, art writers, and gallerists behind the 15 listed exhibitions bare the heart and soul behind some of the most compelling and thought-provoking works of contemporary Philippine art today.


1. Luis Antonio Santos, “Tremor” at West Gallery

Luis Antonio Santos art exhibition
“Tremor” by Luis Antonio Santos at West Gallery. Photos by Joseph Pascual

“After witnessing his grandfather’s struggle with retaining memories and having a handle on his own body’s motions, Santos attempts to mimic the sensation of creating marks with involuntary tremors. A tremor is an involuntary movement, motor skills responding to forces beyond one’s body and mind. Relinquishing his own control over his gestures, Santos records them in a moving car, attempting to draw a straight line while in motion. He pursues a practiced action he is aware he is able to do, but does so in a different state, under the mercy of the influence of an external force. Santos explores the idea of gestures: muscle memory as a form of remembering, and external trauma as the catalyst of forgetting.

Santos’ explorations of the associations of trauma with the loss of memory and precarity of personal realities parallel his observations on his home country’s collective history and its relationship with memory, with trauma wielding a strong influence over what is remembered and what is forgotten.

The elements in ‘Tremor’ respond to one another, presenting as themselves based on externalities. The resulting distortions of the sheets of stainless steel covering the walls are passed on from the distortions on the wall, illuminated by this crooked light’s emission with parts enshrouded by its shadows. Creating distortions upon distortions, the light and its shadows reverberate reflections with one another infinitely, constantly changing one’s perception of reality, never quite arriving at a single version of the truth.” —Carina Santos

“Tremor” runs from May 9 to June 8, 2024 at West Gallery, 48 West Avenue, Quezon City 


2. Celine Lee, “Times” at Gravity Art Space

Celine Lee art exhibition
“Times” by Celine Lee at Gravity Art Space. Photos from Celine Lee

“I continue to explore the dynamic nature of copper. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, copper plays an integral role in various facets of human civilization—from art and tools to machines and weaponry. This juxtaposition is at the heart of my ongoing series with copper, highlighting its diverse meanings and roles throughout history. Central to my choice of material is the profound reflection it offers on the passage of time and the transformative effects of environmental influences. From the initial gleam of bare copper to the eventual emergence of a distinctive patina, each stage serves as a testament to the evolving nature of both the metal itself and the world around it.

In the singular piece of my show entitled ‘Times (Mushroom Cloud),’ I have delved into the enduring quality of images and memory, using copper as both canvas and subject. Using a specialized copper paint infused with metal particles capable of tarnishing over time, I have meticulously rendered an AI-generated image of a mushroom cloud explosion, created from a prompt combining historical war explosions into one massive cloud. Through a controlled oxidation process facilitated by an acidic solution, I have orchestrated the transformation of the copper paint, allowing it to develop a unique patina, mirroring the passage of time and the alteration of memory.” —Celine Lee

“Times” runs from June 7 to July 6, 2024 at Gravity Art Space, 1810 Mother Ignacia Avenue, Quezon City 

READ: 10 must-see exhibits at the Benilde Open


3. Heidi Bucher, “Heidi Bucher: and pull yesterday into today” at Museum of Contemporary Art and Design

Heidi Bucher MCAD art exhibition
“Heidi Bucher: and pull yesterday into today” at Museum of Contemporary Art and Design. Photos by Patrick de Veyra and MCAD

“Heidi Bucher’s practice was truly multidisciplinary. Her art encompassed studio arts, architecture, fashion, performance art, photography, and film, among others. And this is why we selected her body of work to be the anchor exhibition—it is a representation of a creative practice unbound by tradition and expectations. She was curious about anything and everything. This fits like a glove with the theme of the first Benilde Open, ‘Curious.’ After all, all human endeavor—creativity, most of all—begins with curiosity. We hope that this spectacular must-see Bucher exhibition communicates that message to the students across all the disciplines.” —Ayi Magpayo, 2024 Benilde Open convenor

“Heidi Bucher: and pull yesterday into today” runs from May 23 to August 18, 2024 at Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Dominga Street, Malate, Manila


4. Dina Gadia, “Land Poetics” at Silverlens Gallery

Dina Gadia art exhibit
“Land Poetics” by Dina Gadia at Silverlens Gallery. Photos from Silverlens Gallery

“Land Poetics is a series of works that I started in 2018. It is born out of looking outside and inside of what surrounds me, and being in it and with it.” —Dina Gadia

“Land Poetics” runs from June 11 to July 13, 2024 at Silverlens Gallery, Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City 


5. Miguel Lorenzo Uy, “TBD” at Mo Space

Miguel Lorenzo Uy art
Down time at the studio. “TBD” by Miguel Lorenzo Uy at Mo Space. A key component of Uy’s solo show is the ambient music from multiple tracks that he compiled and titled “Breath of the Spectre.” Photos from Miguel Lorenzo Uy

“This new body of work mirrors my current attempt to navigate and understand the complexities of my reality. Amid the varied events, emotions, and dialogues swirling globally, all filtered through the lenses of mass and social media, I wanted to distill my existential thoughts and feelings. However, I’ve come to realize that there is no certainty to this; there are no definitive answers or conclusions to be found in this ongoing exploration.” —Miguel Lorenzo Uy

“TBD” runs from June 1 to 30, 2024 at Mo Space, 3rd floor, MOs Design Building, B2 Bonifacio High Street, 9th Avenue, Taguig 

READ: 10 questions with Miguel Lorenzo Uy


6. Bernardo Pacquing, “Causal Loops” at Silverlens Gallery

Bernardo Pacquing art exhibition
“Causal Loops” by Bernardo Pacquing at Silverlens Gallery. Photos from Silverlens Gallery

“For his fifth solo exhibition at the gallery since his representation by Silverlens in 2014, Bernardo Pacquing continues to experiment with abstraction as a building activity where materials are rid of their original meaning and transformed in ‘Causal Loops.’

Perhaps the act of looking back now, from halfway across his life, has dredged up memories for Pacquing that have found themselves back in the new works. There are a total of 25 works in the show, comprising four large works including an 8.5-foot tall by 30-foot wide painting composed of five panels, 10 cardboard works from his ongoing Brown Study series, six new sculptures, and a new series of five small works.” —Josephine V. Roque, “Causal Loops” exhibition notes 

“Causal Loops” runs from June 11 to July 13, 2024 at Silverlens Gallery, Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City


7. Kristoffer Ardeña, “Ghost Painting: Pagkalalake” at Finale Art File

Kristoffer Ardeña art
“Ghost Painting: Pagkalalake” by Kristoffer Ardeña at Finale Art File. Photos from Kristoffer Ardeña

“The show at Finale is composed of just one monumental painting titled ‘Ghost Painting (Toldo Series): Pagkalalake.’ The work measures 1579×1682 centimeters (51.8×55.2 feet). It is a painting that takes its structural reference from the trapal/toldo arrangements typically found in both rural and urban landscapes in the Philippines. It’s made up of typical fabrics you would find in any fabric store in the Philippines, deconstructed clothes from ukay-ukay, and recycled plastic packaging. The text is painted on coco bapor fabric by Joe, a local sign painter in Bacolod using elastomeric paint. Finally, the theme centers on Filipino masculinity.” —Kristoffer Ardeña

“Ghost Painting: Pagkalalake” runs from June 4 to 28, 2024 at the Finale Art File, Warehouse 17, La Fuerza Plaza, Chino Roces, Makati City 


8. Brisa Amir, “A Body Draws, A Leaf Sprouts” at Artinformal Gallery

Brisa Amir art
“A Body Draws, A Leaf Sprouts” by Brisa Amir at Artinformal Gallery. Photos from Artinformal Gallery

“Urban place identity has been the common thread in my previous exhibition up to the present. For ‘A Body Draws, A Leaf Sprouts’, I started working with the word ‘expansion’ for me to unfold another series of collage-paintings and a possibility of an installation art piece in line with the concept and my art practice. I am always in awe of painting on papers and constructing collages of reclaimed or acquired papers. I paint impressions of urban spaces using my palm, DIY and collected brushes.

I have been living in the city all my life. I see my neighborhood (and the city where I reside) ever-changing. As a human being living in this congested space, I yearn to shapeshift into another being. It became a brainstorming and meditative exercise to adapt, to look inward, to see things differently and imagine myself, a person living in the metro sprouting like a plant or a new leaf. Thus, a plant-like form started to flow and crawl towards my collages.” —Brisa Amir

“A Body Draws, A Leaf Sprouts” runs from May 30 to June 27, 2024 at Artinformal Gallery, C1 Karrivin Plaza, Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City


9. TRNZ, “A Comedy in Four Acts” at Vinyl on Vinyl

TRNZ art
“A Comedy in Four Acts” by TRNZ at Vinyl on Vinyl. Photos from TRNZ

“Although it’s not literally visualized in the pieces, the show was inspired by the countless school plays/performances I stumbled upon in my childhood photo album.

I found the nuances in school plays charming. I was drawn to the tackiness, the innocence, the off-timings, and the role-playing.” —TRNZ

“A Comedy in Four Acts” runs from June 1 to 29, 2024 at Vinyl on Vinyl, Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City 


10. Betsy Westendorp, “Love Letters to Betsy” at Provenance Art Gallery

Betsy Westendorp art
“Love Letters to Betsy” by Betsy Westendorp at Provenance Art Gallery. Photo from Provenance Art Gallery

“‘Love Letters to Betsy’ is an homage to the late Betsy Westendorp, an artist beloved by many and who had developed a deep relationship with the gallery. The exhibit features the breadth of Westendorp’s oeuvre, with works from 1972 to 2019, ranging from atmospherographs to landscapes, flowers, houses and portraits, of subjects both in her native Spain and in her adopted home of the Philippines. Part of the show’s scenography is a peek into the artist’s studio, an intimate look at the process and materials of a much-celebrated icon. The presentation includes final pieces from her family’s collection.” —Stephanie Frondoso,  curator 

“Provenance is dedicated to the contemporary Filipino artist by showcasing their works on a global platform, making their artwork visible and accessible. Provenance has redefined the art experience through their carefully curated exhibits, select artists and concepts, and by believing that the best artists in the world are here in the Philippines. The gallery aims to promote the best and the brightest in the art scene, by producing critical projects and exhibitions to present Philippine art, and to continue to redefine the contemporary art experience.” —Emilio Preysler Dizon, Provenance Gallery director 

“Love Letters to Betsy” will open on June 15 2024 at Provenance Art Gallery, Shangri-La The Fort, 30th Street, Taguig


11. Pinky Ibarra Urmaza, “The Second Eve” at Vinyl on Vinyl

Pinky Ibarra Urmaza art
“The Second Eve” by Pinky Ibarra Urmaza at Vinyl on Vinyl. Photos from Pinky Ibarra Urmaza

“Pinky Ibarra Urmaza explores the portrayal of women in religious text and church history through ‘Second Eve.’ She highlights dichotomies of female scriptural characters such as the obedient, Virgin Mary and the disobedient, temptress Eve. Early Christian writers were mostly celibate men who cast women as either virtuous or sinful. Their portrayals often placed greater blame on the woman for humanity’s fall.

Urmaza critiques these traditional narratives through her works for ‘Second Eve’ by reframing motherhood and emphasizing women’s roles beyond societal norm. Her works challenge the conventional views of women in religious contexts and advocate for the continuous reexamination of feminine virtues and their portrayal, noting the slow but crucial progress in redefining figures like Mary Magdalene from sinful woman to a key disciple of Christ. ‘Second Eve’ aims to depict more inclusive and accurate representations of women in religious history, presenting these figures through a female perspective.” —Marionne Contreras, ‘The Second Eve’ exhibition notes 

“The Second Eve” runs from June 1 to 29, 2024 at Vinyl on Vinyl, Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City


12. Mark Arcamo, “A Thousand Eyes Upon Us” at Blanc Gallery

Mark Arcamo
“A Thousand Eyes Upon Us” by Mark Arcamo at Blanc Gallery. Photos from Mark Arcamo

“The show explores the paradox of fame. The intoxicating allure and the corrosive effects. I paint fractured faces, their features distorted by the weight of public scrutiny. The eyes once filled with innocence, now reflect the hunger for adoration. I invite viewers to confront their fascination with fame. Are we drawn to the luminous glow or the impending darkness? Can we escape the hunger for recognition or are we all trapped in this gilded cage?

In the end my art serves as a mirror. It reflects our collective obsession, urging us to question what truly matters. Perhaps, beyond the spotlight lies a quieter beauty—the authenticity of self-expression, the joy of creation, and the resilience of the human spirit.” —Mark Arcamo

“A Thousand Eyes Upon Us” opens on June 8, 2024 at Blanc Gallery, 145 Katipunan Avenue, St. Ignatius Village, QC


13. Various artists, “Paint is the Spit between the Eyes and the Gaze” organized by Manuel Ocampo at Pablo Fort Gallery

Manuel Ocampo pablo fort gallery
“Paint is the Spit between the Eyes and the Gaze” organized by Manuel Ocampo at Pablo Fort Gallery. Photos from Pablo Fort Gallery

“Sa tingin ko ’yung collab is a way to put the idea of play and a sense of camaraderie into the studio practice of painting. Kasi painting is a solitary activity and when you ask somebody to intervene nawawala na ’yun pagka-individualist tendency ng painting at na-activate ’yung interstitial space between individuals. You’re letting go of your subjectivity at nagkakaroon na siya ng resistance so napapaisip ka na sa subjectivity ng iba. Pero it differs from mural painting where collectivism is key.

(In my opinion, the collaboration is a way to incorporate the concept of play and a sense of camaraderie into the studio practice of painting. Because painting is a solitary activity, and when you invite someone to intervene, the individualistic tendency of painting diminishes, and the interstitial space between individuals is activated. You’re letting go of your subjectivity and encountering resistance, which prompts you to consider the subjectivity of others. However, this differs from mural painting, where collectivism is key.)” —Manuel Ocampo

“Paint is the Spit between the Eyes and the Gaze” runs from May 25 to July 13, 2024 at Pablo Fort Gallery, C-11 South of Market, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig 

READ: Changing shades: Artist Jigger Cruz introduces a new style of painting


14. Various artists, “Home is Where the Hurt is” at Ninuno Gallery

Ninuno gallery
“Home is where the Hurt is” at Ninuno Gallery. Photos from Cocoy Lumbao Jr.

“From my own point of view, to be part of a show that includes art works from a different community of artists is a good opportunity, foremost, to learn about the kind of vision and sensibilities they have when it comes to producing art. Also, more importantly, in a way it expresses my support for PDLs who also believe in rehabilitation and reform, and how art can aid these objectives. I guess in a way, to be part of this show expresses my belief in art as also a therapeutic tool and as an important aspect of connecting to communities and vice versa—for isolated communities to connect and also have a chance for social integration. My work, titled ‘I have only one container and I am filling it with goods, I can’t afford another journey, it’s too heavy on the inside,’ is a series of videos (four to date) where I compress my personal archive of home videos (from the early ’90s to the late 2010s) into one frame. This is one of the series I made, around seven minutes total time, composed of more than 50 home video footage layered into a single frame.” —Cocoy Lumbao Jr.

With the participation of artist friends—Jonard Ampo-an, Vic Balanon, Jake Verzosa, Buboy Cañafranca, Idan Cruz, Aldo Cuervo, Cocoy Lumbao Jr., Jonathan Ecleo, Pow Martinez, Jed Escueta, At Maculangan, Ardee Poblete, Foreign Germs, Robert Javier, Teejay Resurreccion, Ram San Pedro, and Melnard Trogon—Laya Digital Curators shed light on the brilliance of the marginalized, thereby challenging societal stigmas and promoting inclusivity within the art community. Proceeds from “Home is Where the Hurt is” will contribute to the funding and continuation of the Manila City Jail art rehabilitation program.

“Home is Where the Hurt is” runs from May 19 to June 30, 2024 at Ninuno Gallery, 45 Esteban Abada Street, Loyola Heights, Quezon City


15. Various curators, “It is What is It: Reimagining Narratives in Culture and Practices” at Gallery One, Parola, University of the Philippines Diliman College of Fine Arts

UP seniors art exhibition
Ingress day for the seniors. “It is What is It” is a group exhibition co-curated by the graduating art history students at the UP College of Fine Arts. Photos and poster layout from Carla Velasco

“‘It is What is It’ is a group exhibition curated by five University of the Philippines Diliman College of Fine Arts undergraduate art history students: Alexandra Brigino, Nicole Duldulao, Jolene Panopio, Kiel Rubis, and myself. While differing in topic and rationale, our common theme is questioning the long-held beliefs present in each of our own art practices, hence the play on words for our exhibit title. Our individual exhibits are a visual representation of our thesis. We aim to guide people through the framework of our research and provide a feedback mechanism tailored specifically to each of our research specialties at the end in order to facilitate a discussion with the audience. As for my section, ‘Neither Nor’ is a chronological visualization of the Chinese Filipino’s cultural identity, represented through paintings produced from 1986 to 2024. Through my research, I aim to contribute to the body of knowledge on the Chinese Filipino’s cultural identity from an art history standpoint and highlight the growing importance of diaspora studies here in the Philippines.” —Carla Velasco

“It is What is It: Reimagining Narratives in Culture and Practices” runs from June 4 to 14 at Gallery One, Parola, University of the Philippines Diliman College of Fine Arts, Quezon City

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