Art Dubai’s Marker show resists stereotypes about Philippine art
This year, Art Dubai’s Marker section – which focuses on a different geographical region during each edition – shines the spotlight on the Philippines, offering visitors a chance to find out more about this highly creative community.
Marker curator Ringo Bunoan decided to focus on non-commercial spaces based in the Philippines, each run by home-grown artists, which have been instrumental in shaping the history of and popularising contemporary art in the country.
Bunoan says that the history of such galleries dates back to the 1930s, when an artist called Victorio Edades and his friends created their own studio in Manila, where they painted images that went against the grain.
The late Roberto Chabet, considered to be the father of Filipino conceptual art, taught students how to put on their own shows during his time lecturing at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Art. As such, he has been influential in the start-up of many of these grass-roots initiatives.
When Bunoan was tasked with condensing Philippine art into a subsection of the annual art fair in Dubai, she decided to select four artist-run spaces – 89B, Post Gallery, Thousandfold and Project 20 – from different districts in Manila.
The galleries represent young and emerging contemporary Filipino artists, and the exhibition includes photographs, videos, paintings, soft sculptures, works on paper and textiles.
Also on show will be key pieces of work by Chabet, with whom Bunoan has curated several exhibitions and edited a monograph.
The exhibition will also feature books on Philippine modern and contemporary art from www. artbooks.ph, an independent bookstore specialising in Filipino art and culture, which Bunoan and artist Katya Guerrero founded in November 2014.
“Marker 2016 is not a summary of Filipino art,” she says. “It does attempt, however, to tell a story about artist-run spaces in the Philippines and offer a glimpse into its history and the various types of works and practices that are currently being shown in these spaces.
“This exhibition aims to resist stereotypes about Filipino art – it does not follow the usual themes or narratives associated with the Philippines.
It is more open and inclusive. It is also not limited to painting and includes works using various media.”
Filipino Mark Barretto, who specialises in graffiti and street art, is one of six artists from 98B, which was founded in 2012 by Filipino artist Mark Salvatus and Japanese curator and researcher Mayumi Hirano.
Barretto, who is the only UAE-based Filipino showing in Marker this year, has spent the past few months working in his home studio in Bur Dubai on a mural for the fair, and Bunoan hopes his participation will create new opportunities for exchange between Filipino artists in Manila and Dubai.
Barretto’s pieces, painted in several sections that will be joined together at the event, is an abstract amalgamation of architecture, signs and other urban patterns. It also features an angular face that regularly appears in most of his art.
“All of my work is inspired by the things I see around me, including the pattern and the face,” he says.
“It doesn’t refer to anyone in particular but I feel it is my way of working out what is around me, giving a face to the unknown. I am a migrant and my art is my way of communicating with the world around me.”
“We don’t usually get any serious attention for this kind of art,” adds Barretto, who has lived in the UAE for nine years.
“Art institutions and galleries are not really into what we do. That is part of the reason that artist-run spaces are so popular in my home country.”
• Art Dubai runs from March 16 to 19 at Madinat Jumeirah. For more information, visit www.artdubai.ae