Arts & Culture

Cement Heads, Neon Lights, Imelda: Philippine Art in Singapore

Pieces by Geraldine Javier, Ronald Ventura, Norberto Roldan, and Martha Atienza, among others.

“I am not afraid about the future of Southeast Asia when it comes to art as long as we play our strengths together,” says Lorenzo Rudolf, founder of Art Stage Singapore, which recently commenced at the Marina Bay Sands.

On its seventh year, the art fair’s goal was to become a consolidated platform for Southeast Asian art to go up against bigger and stronger markets such as China, the U.S., and Europe. Of the 131 participating galleries from 27 countries, 75 percent were from Asia, featuring emerging talents and some of the most respected artists in the region, from Japan’s Yayoi Kusama and Yoshitomo Nara to Myanmar’s Aye Ko, the Philippines' Geraldine Javier, and Indonesia’s Arahmaiani, among many others. Six of Singapore’s most prominent art collectors also “stepped out to share some of their prized contemporary pieces in the hope of fostering conversations on building art collections among more people,” adds Rudolf.

Here are some of the important artworks by Filipino artists that art buyers and collectors pored over at Art Stage Singapore.

Leslie de Chavez
Palingenesis, 2016
Presented by Arario Gallery (South Korea)

We first encountered this elaborated scourge at the artist’s exhibit late last year at the Ateneo Art Gallery. Stunning and intriguing, the installation features molded cement heads of the late former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos on the ends of each chain. For whipping revisionists into shape, perhaps?

Dina Gadia
Common Appreciation, Common Problem, 2015, acrylic on canvas; Checking the Alternative, 2016, acrylic on paper; Breaking a Leg, 2016, acrylic on paper
Presented by Clear Edition & Gallery (Tokyo)

This young artist is recognized for her retro compositions that highlight women and cultural symbolisms as she explores topics on female beauty, imperialism, national identity, and more.

Allan Balisi
Continuity and Hope II, 2016, ink on acid-free paper; When It Avoids Taking Sides, 2016, oil on canvas
Presented by Clear Edition & Gallery (Tokyo)


As with most of his works, these newer pieces by Allan Balisi are sentimental and nostalgic as they immerse audiences in his narratives. Noticeably, these works also feature more defined strokes and sharper images.

Geraldine Javier
Delirious, 2016, acrylic on canvas
Presented by Arario Gallery (South Korea)

This work, along with a few more pieces presented by this South Korean gallery, reiterates that nature has always been a recurring theme for the artist's easy-to-love, aeshthetically appealing, and thought-provoking artworks. 

Norberto Roldan
Fugitives From Years of Captivity 1-4, assemblage, collage, and found objects
Presented by TAKSU (Singapore)

The multimedia artist and curator often presents social and political commentary through various assemblages using found objects. ”Assemblage is not only mixed-media but also cross-disciplinary. You can pick up anything and put them all together in a coherent form. Assemblage is akin to production design in filmmaking. It builds the context for storytelling without giving the whole story,” he says.

Kawayan de Guia
Horse, 2011, film tapes
Private collection, Michaelangelo and Lourdes Samson

Made of film tapes shaped into horns and cinema reels, this sculpture is a tribute to old school Manila theaters and the art of traditional filmmaking.

Leslie de Chavez
Revolutionary Past, 2011, oil on canvas and neon lights
Private collection, Michaelangelo and Lourdes Samson

This work explores a common Philippine narrative—imperialism and the continuous fight against oppression. It hopes to raise this question: "What does it mean to be a revolutionary today?"

Martha Atienza
Azimuth, 2015, 3-channel video
Private collection, Michaelangelo and Lourdes Samson

The artist's fascination with water is seen in this large-scale video installation, which immerses the viewer "into a contemplative dialogue with water and light." The work features three locations and bodies of water: The Atlantic Ocean, the Philippine Sea, and the Mississippi River. 

Ronald Ventura
Resurrection, 2000, acrylic on gesso on wood
Private collection, Hady Ang


Renz Baluyot
Dwelling, 2017, oil on canvas; Down the Road, 2016, oil on canvas
Presented by YOD Gallery (Osaka)

Here we see Baluyot's fascination with exterior scenes in Manila taken to a whole new level, where even concepts of deterioration and discord are made appealing and beautiful. 

Daniel de la Cruz
Observer, 2016, mixed metals, clear cast polyester, resin, acrylic glass, LED light
Presented by YOD Gallery (Osaka)

His popular sculptures of women have always been full of grace. Now with more works depicting men in various themes and exploring more materials, he lets us still see the familiar depth and warmth to his subjects, only more poetic and stirring. 

Jose Tence Ruiz
CSI: Chimoy Si Imbisibol, 2007, MYK electrostatic print and acrylic on canvas, set of 7 prints
Presented by ArtInformal (Manila)

This series of paintings pay tribute to Filipino household helpers, many of whom, as the artist sees, deserve more recognition for the work they do and for being a major force in the labor economy. 

Pacita Abad
Blue Room, 1991, oil, painted cloth, sequins stitched on canvas
Presented by Art-2 Gallery (Singapore)

The late Filipina artist is featured in a solo show by Art-2 Gallery, showcasing a number of her bold and vibrant mixed media paintings. 

Carlos Celdran
Livin' La Vida Imelda, performance
Presented by 1335Mabini (Manila)

The cultural activist and performance artist updates this walking performance that uses the flamboyant character of former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos for this edition, adopting select pieces from the art fair in his narrative and as a literal background. He successfully brings audiences back to Manila in the 1970s, when "art, culture, and national identity were dictated by the ambitions and follies" of Mrs. Marcos. 

About The Author
Nicole Limos
Managing Editor
Nicole’s career in publishing began in 2006. Before becoming Town & Country online’s managing editor, she moved from features editor to beauty editor of the title’s print edition. “The lessons in publishing are countless,” she says. “The most crucial ones for me? That to write best about life, you need to live your life. And another I still struggle to live by: ‘Brevity is a virtue; verbosity is a vice.’”
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