Inspiration

Art Fair Maven Trickie Lopa on Mixing Art With Fashion and Her Guilty Pleasures

Curiosity and openness are crucial to developing taste, in art and other matters, according to this stylish art collector.
IMAGE TOTO LABRADOR
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Later this month, the latest edition of Art in the Park gets underway at the Jaime Velasquez Park in Makati. Billed as the country’s most significant affordable art fair, it’s a pet project of Trickie’s, one of the driving forces behind Philippine Art Events Incorporated, with her partners Dindin Araneta and Lisa Ongpin Periquet. In the past decade, this powerful trio has worked behind the scenes to influence the way we view, interact with, appreciate, and purchase art. Then, in a few months, the second edition of their latest baby, The Nonesuch: Fine Collectibles and Rarities, will take place, and before you know it, it’ll be time for the icing on the cake, Art Fair Philippines 2019. Can you imagine how things would be if Trickie had stayed in the fashion retail industry?

Before becoming a force in art circles, Trickie was involved in fashion, helping run Orange Juice (a division of Joanna Ongpin Duarte’s Big & Small Company) involved in clothing for children and pre-teens, “doing everything from design to running the stores,” she says. It was her life from 1998 to 2011; you could say fashion was her big first love.

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Trickie in her own Jacquemus blouse, MM6 Maison Margiela pants, and Isabel Marant shoes.

A Management Economics graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University, Trickie’s initial plunge into the art world was in London, where her doctor husband Randy was doing his fellowship in the mid-1990s. “My interest was sparked by living there,” she says, recalling those days with fondness. “I went on a year-long museum-visiting bender, and I also took short courses in art history at the Victoria and Albert Museum.” At around the same time she met Lisa—Joanna’s sister—who also happened to be living in London. Perhaps sensing Trickie’s growing obsession with art, Lisa invited her to join the Museum Foundation of the Philippines, an offer which Trickie considered when she returned to Manila.

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During her stint as the board secretary, Trickie helped dream up Art in the Park. “We needed to raise funds, and the fundraising activities were always concerts. I said ‘I’ll be damned if I have to sell another ticket,’” she recalls, laughing. “We needed a project for the second anniversary of the Salcedo Market, which the Museum Foundation set up, and so that whole thing happened.” While all of this was going on, Trickie was still in fashion retail, but she had begun to realize something: “The art scene was the hobby, the main job was Orange Juice; and now, the hobby was becoming the job.”

The dust would start to settle on her constant battle with her priorities in 2011, when the Big & Small Company was sold. There was a year-long transition period where she stayed on as a consultant to the new owners; during this time that she co-founded Philippine Art Events, and started planning for the inaugural Art Fair Philippines. A highly stressful time, it was, in the end, highly rewarding.

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Plates and goblets by Jon and Tessy Pettyjohn; A few art books

Six editions later, Art Fair Philippines still sets the bar for local art events and remains highly challenging to produce, Trickie says, taking at least 10 months to conceptualize and prepare for. Her group’s latest, the Nonesuch, might not be on the same scale, but Trickie believes there’s a lot of potential. Moving away from contemporary art to focus on native crafts and art forms, the Nonesuch reawakened a latent interest of hers. “I’ve always been interested in tribal art. The reason I decided not to pursue it is that I didn’t know where to turn for scholarship on particular types of Philippine art. I wasn’t knowledgeable enough to start collecting seriously. Early in my collecting days, I was exposed to the contemporary art scene, and it was easier to get into that in depth. Because of Art in the Park, I got to know the artists, I got to know the galleries. It was easy to talk to an artist, get to know what his art is all about.”

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By organizing the Nonesuch, Trickie learned that a similar vein could be tapped, from a separate circle. “It’s a different cast of characters. I realized that there is so much knowledge available. So I started looking, got exposed to it more, and I got interested in tribal art again.”

Even after about a dozen years of serious collecting, Trickie says she’s still learning. Asked about how she develops her eye, she says, “One must always possess curiosity and openness—to new places, new experiences, new people—in order to keep elevating one’s senses. The most curious people turn out the most engaging, they don’t get stuck in their comfort zones, and thus, become ever more interesting.” Continuing this train of thought, she quotes the famous art collector, Charles Saatchi. “‘The more you like art, the more art you like.’ So the more you see things, the more you train your eye.”

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Artwork by Yasmin Sison with objects by Geraldine Javier, Ronald Ventura, Patricia Eustaquio, and Mariano Ching on the table and a Jose Tence Ruiz sculpture on the side; Her favorite area at home

Source of inspiration

If you mean what makes me carry on day-to-day, that would be my family, of course! But I find that an elegantly turned phrase, wonderful art, and walking around a city for the first time do make me feel good to be alive.

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Greatest professional influence

I’m not sure if this counts, but working closely with Lisa and Dindin, whether sounding them off on new ideas or trying to convince them to go with something I feel strongly about, have brought me further than I thought possible in terms of achieving my own personal goals for our projects.

Most admired designers

In terms of fashion, I think I would have to go with Calvin Klein: clean lines, elegant silhouettes, timeless cuts. I enjoy the spaces created by Axel Vervoordt for his affinity to both the visual and decorative arts. Lately, I’ve been following the work of Ashley Hicks. I’m not quite sure if I get him yet, but I do enjoy seeing the objects he puts together, like his totems.

Ways to discover new things

Making full use of my subscription to the New York Times, and whatever the digital equivalent is of reading it from cover to cover: news, art, style, books, travel, what don’t they cover?

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Things on your work desk

Just my laptop. I work from anywhere.

Most used tool in your line of work

My laptop and iPad—how lucky that we live in an age when one has the opportunity to view art online, 24/7.

Your idea of the perfect home?

Walls filled with art and a cozy chair to curl up with my Kindle.

Favorite part of your house?

Right now it would have to be the corner of the den where I can enjoy my bululs.


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The newly acquired bulul; A collection of tribal masks

Favorite stores

Online, there’s Farfetch or Matches. For local brick and mortar establishments, there’s LCP and Aphro.

Style icons

Currently, I would have to say Victoria Beckham: unfussy, solid colors, the cut of her clothes carry the day. There’s also Wallis, the Duchess of Windsor, whose outfits look as chic today as they did 80 years ago when she stole a king’s heart.

Describe your style

Usually spare, with a pop of detail that’s slightly off-kilter. I like dressing from the feet up.

Something you’d never leave home without

A piece of statement jewelry, nothing fancy: my stack of bangles, a cocktail ring, or a pair of dangling earrings. They don’t have to be anything of high value, just something to seal an outfit.

Fashion or design trend you wish would go away

The pajama look, maybe because I’m not partial to small floral prints.

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Favorite website

My guilty pleasure is a site called the Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor. I have a fascination for European Royal History (I can tell you the names of all the grandchildren of the Queen of Denmark and name all the English sovereigns since William the Conqueror) and this site satisfies my interest in both fashion and royalty.

Who do you follow on Instagram?

Aside from all the major museums and galleries in the world and superstar artists like Ai Wei Wei, Olafur Eliasson, and Takashi Murakami, I also enjoy the posts of fashion personalities like Suzy Menkes, Elizabeth TNT, and theLSD.

Favorite phone app

Yelp.

Favorite part of Manila you’d bring guests

Depends on the guests, but I usually get requests to go around the galleries and museums.

Favorite city to visit

In the past year, I suppose that it’s been New York. But I actually prefer to visit somewhere I’ve never been before

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Favorite urban hotel

The Pottinger in Hong Kong: Low-key luxe and in such a great location.

Travel must-haves

White sneakers, a cross-body bag that can go from day to night, and Google Maps.

Vacation spot

Not any one particular place. The best vacations entail discovering something new, immersing in history, and seeing good art.

Place you’ve never been, but would most like to visit

Ghent, to see Jan van Eyck’s altarpiece.

Way to rejuvenate

Getting on the treadmill to release those endorphins.

Fitness regimen

An almost daily run, weights, and I’ve just gotten into yoga.

Words to live by

To quote Jon Bon Jovi:
It’s my life,
It’s now or never,
I ain’t gonna live forever
I just want to live while I’m alive

Guilty pleasures

Aside from my favorite website, reading the Daily Mail and chocolate.

One thing few people know about you

I’m a history geek, with special focus on the Kennedys and English history, particularly the Regency period.

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Favorite dish

Siomai.

Must-have item on your dinner table

Veggies.

Dessert

Green tea?


Clockwise from right: A child’s tamborin necklace; Michelline Syjuco cuff; malachite, silver, and jade mask; an array of vintage Filipino earrings; T’boli brass bracelets.

Favorite place to celebrate

Special occasions have been marked with family dinners at home, catered by Kai or Cibo.

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Drink/cocktail of choice

Gin and tonic, vodka on the rocks, or some white Burgundy.

Dream dinner guests

Ai Wei Wei, Roberta Smith (the art critic of the New York Times), mega gallerist David Zwirner, and Raf Simons. Obviously, if this ever happens, I’m as good as invisible.

Writer or book

Jane Austen, Persuasion.

Film

Merchant and Ivory’s Room With a View.

Favorite form of entertainment

Spending the day in a museum and doing gallery hops, not to mention checking out major art fairs.

What’s currently on your music playlist?

Music I can run to: Bruno Mars and The Killers are the best for getting me through that last K.

Favorite actor of all time

George Clooney!

Most treasured possession

How can I not answer my husband and kids and not be judged?

Favorite cultural experience

I’ve had some pretty spectacular ones recently: the mind-blowing Anselm Kiefer Retrospective at The Royal Academy in London in 2014 and a major Hieronymous Bosch show at The Prado to celebrate the 500th anniversary of his death. There was also Doris Salcedo at the Guggenheim in 2015— political commentary done with such elegance. Two years ago, my daughter and I visited Granada, and after touring the Alhambra, I went to the Capilla Real where they’ve kept intact the prayer room of Isabella of Castile. Remember that she lived in the 16th century, so the liturgical objects and paintings, particularly those of Rogier van der Weyden and Boticelli, were, even then, already priceless antiques. Too bad you couldn’t take photos!

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Favorite museums/art galleries

Too many to mention! But David Zwirner has three spaces in Chelsea, and always worth a look-see. Last summer, I spent a very enjoyable day at the Dia:Beacon, a two-hour train ride from Grand Central Terminal. On the way, you enjoy glorious views of the Hudson. This former Nabisco factory now houses the museum complex of works by significant minimalists from the 1970s: Walter de Maria, Dan Flavin, Joseph Beuys.

Favorite works of art

From the past year: James Turrell’s Breathing Light at LACMA and teamLab’s Crows are Chased and the Chasing Crows are Destined to be Chased as Well, Blossoming on Collision at the Mori Art Museum.

Favorite artists

Tough one to answer, but I would have to go with Vermeer, Balthus, Joseph Cornell, and the Chapman Brothers.

Young artists we should keep our eyes on?

There’s Cian Dayrit, who is currently featured at the New Museum’s Triennial. Don’t expect him to produce objects that one can collect, though. He leans more towards research-based projects with a nod to his interest in anthropology that don’t shrink from socio-political statements. I also like Ian Fabro, for drawings amplified with texture via staple wire and dressmaker pins.

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This story was originally published in the April 2018 issue of Town&Country.

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