Buy Art With Your Eyes, Not With Your Ears, the Country's Top Collectors Say
After ending the first of many days at Art Fair Philippines, the country’s top art collectors converged on the Mireio rooftop terrace at the Raffles Makati, just down the street from The Link.
There, conversations flowed over nibbles and drinks at the Collectors Cocktails hosted by Town&Country and Globe Platinum, and we listened in.
One of the main takeaways of the night? Buy with your eyes, not with your ears. This is something many of the seasoned collectors adhere to. Newer art buyers tend to look at who’s hot in art and think of investing in big names on the scene. This a serious mistake, according to a number of collectors.
“Now, they don’t even look at what they’re buying, they just buy for the name,” says Paulino Que, who’s been in the game since the ‘70s.
“Don’t look at it as an investment; it’s food for your soul,” adds Mike Tomacruz. “Once you start looking at it as an investment, it destroys the art.”
Even if you’re buying a work of art as a form of investment, however, you should at least like it, according to John Russell.
For Jun Jun Lopez, art is accompanied by emotion. He says of the ideal artwork: “When you see it, you will feel something. You will really like it or it will mean something to you.” On art as
Rico Quimbo adds to this point, saying, "For me, it has to be love at first sight. If you don't fall for it, you're buying the artwork for the wrong reason. You're buying it for value, which for me, is not fun." The collector sees art as a reflection of real life. "It's not just about creativity, it's about society and humanity's general situation. It tells us a lot about where we human beings are headed toward."
Before buying, these collectors suggest that you educate yourself a little first. Olivia Yao advises the new collectors to take time to learn. “It’s easy to buy once you know what you want,” she says. “It’s also a process of self-discovery. What you like now might change in five years. Spent the time to read, visit exhibits and museums, and learn to appreciate art.”
Russell abides by this rule, too. “If I happen to like it, I buy it. It doesn't have to be expensive, it just has to be something I like. Maybe my taste will change as I get older but the fundamental thing is I have to like it.”
Louie Bate weighs in on building a collection and training the eye for art. "When we all started, we didn’t desire to be collectors. We only desired to buy art and soon enough we had a collection. It never hit us until we started hanging our works," he says. He also warns of the dangers of impulse buying, "Often, people say, ‘Buy what you like,’ but I think that’s only half the statement. Educate yourself and then buy. You will realize that what you buy on impulse is not something you will collect in the end."
The practice of collecting art can be competitive. A renowned collector, Que shares a little secret to getting the best pieces by an artist. “When you buy for the artist’s name, you can’t get the best piece, because the best piece will always be bought by someone else. When you buy from new artists, you’ll be the first to discover them so you get the best of his work.”
Rico Quimbo recommends the works of Nicole Tee, Brisa Amir, and Pinky
The bigger and better Art Fair this year pleased many of these loyal visitors. Tomacruz makes it a point to visit the foreign galleries like ARNDT and Yavuz since it’s always a treat to see what the foreign galleries are offering. He bought a few pieces from a young Indonesian artist this year.
Lopez, on the other hand, chooses to buy from local artists because of the ease of access.
Yao, who’s been collecting for 20 years, says the bigger space is more conducive for browsing through the galleries. She also says the Daniel de la Cruz exhibit was “quite impressive” and “very engaging.” “I thought Plet Bolipata’s special exhibition was also very interesting. It’s whimsical and [reflects] her personality,” she muses. A painting by Nena Saguil at the Leon Gallery also caught this collector’s eye.
Many of these collectors never intended to build a collection. Lopez only started after his brother introduced him to art. Russell thinks it was plain “serendipity” that led him to it. However these art enthusiasts began their collections, they push for the idea to buy art that personally speaks to you.
Hetty and Paulino Que
Ethel Go, Christine Ong, Stella Que, Olivia Yao, and Rosie Uy
Mike and Michelle Tomacruz with Margs and Jun Jun Lopez
Franklin Go, John Russell, Daniel de la Cruz, and Princess Russell
Erica Reyes, Kai Lim, and Rachel Rillo
Trickie Lopa, Lisa Ongpin Periquet, and Dindin Araneta
Rachel Rillo with Timmy and Barbee Chiudian
Matthieu Lerat, Mishi Cu Unijeng, Yvette Fernandez; and Wawi Navarroza
Miguel Rodriguez, Erica Reyes, Francis Reyes, and Jun Lopez
Gerry and Katty Qua, Steffi Chiongbian, Marilu Batchelor, Gina Aboitiz, and Johnny Montinola
Princess Banal Russell, Rico Quimbo, and Stella Quimbo
Stephane Tremblay and David Batchelor
Stella Que and Margs Lopez
Mike Tomacruz, Julio Villafuerte, and Amado Fores
Marsha Leia Guzman and Margs Lopez; , Olivia Yao, and James Yao
Jerrie So and Angela Gotuaco
Hetty Que with Liza and Louie Bate
Gina Aboitiz, Johnny Montinola, Katty Qua, and Steffi Chiongbian
Erica and Francis Reyes
Toddy and Marimel Francisco with Randy Lopa and Anton Periquet
Jonathan Que; Xandra Ramos, Monique Toda, Yvette Fernandez, and Lara Fernandez Barrios
Jia Estrella and Marimel Francisco
Jun Jun Lopez, Margs Lopez, Michelle Tomacruz, Mike Tomacruz and Alex Uy
Bryan and Dinggay Villanueva