Contemporary Manila: Top Ten Art Galleries
The art scene in Manila has seen an influx of artist-led contemporary galleries alongside its existing commercial ones. This has produced subsections of the discipline devoted to critically engaging and analysing the parameters of contemporary art whilst embracing a more academic side. Through this expansion of the Philippines’ contemporary landscape, an exciting cultural and artistic exchange has been instigated.
The Drawing Room
The Drawing Room first originated from the desire to promote works of art on paper. This idea evolved to form one of Manila’s leading interdisciplinary commercial galleries. The gallery represents artists from the Philippines, with a focus on artistic practices that capture the ever-changing urbanity and dynamism of the Philippines. The Drawing Room is interested in artistic practices with social and historic undertones and therefore represents an array of artists dealing with complex themes in contemporary formats. The Drawing Room exhibits artists on a monthly basis and are involved in various international art fairs.
Light and Space Contemporary
Set up by brothers Jason Tecson and Joseph Tecson in 2010, Light and Space Contemporary is a youngster in comparison to some of Manila’s other galleries. Emitting an abundance of energy, their enthusiasm for contemporary artistic practice and experimentation is infectious. The gallery collaborates with other creative establishments to explore the cross section between art, theatre and film, and expands on dialogues between social, cultural and artistic backgrounds.
Green Papaya Art Projects
Founded in 2000 by Norberto Roldan and Donna Miranda, Green Papaya Art Projects provides a platform for creative engagement and informational exchange in a multidisciplinary arena. Green Papaya Art Projects reacts to the generally unchanged unemployment figures and escalating prices – issues that have not improved since the People Power Revolution of 1986. Spurred by their understanding of the Philippines’ current political and social conditions, they provide an alternative space for artistic experimentation that does not depend on any involvement from the government.
At the point of inception Artinformal was simply an idea created by a group of Filipino artists to bring art and the community closer together. This evolved and in 2004 the artists inhabited a gallery space in which to curate exhibitions and organise initiatives. With an open mind, Artinformal lives up to its name and embraces all mediums of art within an informal and relaxed environment. Sculpture, painting pottery, installation multimedia and performances are all nurtured within this artistic pocket of Manila and provide a platform for creative exchange and constructive discourse. By focusing on contemporary Filipino artists, Artinformal helps strengthen Manila's international presence within the art world.
As a converted warehouse, MO’s adaptable space lends itself aptly to contemporary installations, performances and video pieces. MO space has been pioneering contemporary art since 2007 and focuses on its essence as opposed to potential financial gain. The space is lead by artists and exhibits regular solo and group shows which contribute towards the progression and expansion of contemporary art from the Philippines.
The visions of curator Valentine Willie combined with the versatility of the space are the key components for Manila Contemporary’s success. This unique expanse of exhibition space can accommodate monumental installations, providing a liberating and freeing artistic context that has attracted a long list of influential artists. Manila Contemporary not only supports established Filipino artists, but emerging ones also and marries the two with extensive group shows. Varying in size and conceptual intention, Manila Contemporary offers twelve shows a year.
Established in 1975 Galleria Duemila prides itself on being the oldest commercial gallery in the Philippines. The gallery has built up a strong international presence for its exposure of emerging Filipino artists working with mediums such as sculpture and installation. The gallery often expands on these contemporary themes by incorporating performances and readings into their monthly shows. Galleria Duemila’s artistic involvement extends to 20th century works also, selling pieces by modern masters.
Galleria Duemila, 210 Loring Street, Pasay, Philippines, +63 2 833 9815
Finale Art File
Finale Art File has been pioneering contemporary art since the 1980s and in 2008 relocated to a 450 sq.m space comprised of three separate galleries. The largest of the galleries can accommodate complex installations and group shows, making it one of the most dynamic and exciting contemporary galleries in Manila. As a result of its established past, Finale Art File has an impressive portfolio of modern masters as well as practicing artists. In this sense, Finale Art File provides glimpses into the journey that contemporary Filipino art has taken. The gallery also holds seasonal auctions and curates talks and discussions.
Pablo has two galleries in Metro Manila: Pablo X and Pablo Fort. The two assume different identities according to the artists they represent, works they sell and thus clients they attract. Pablo Cubao X is the original gallery established with the aim of providing young, emerging artists with a platform for expression. The gallery soon gained a reputation and began attracting attention from older, more established artists – Pablo Fort was thus born. The two galleries cater to different areas of the artistic sphere and therefore boast considerable knowledge about either.
Pablo, C-11 South of Market Bonifacio Global City, Taguig 1634, Metro Manila, Philippines, +63 (2) 400.7905
The stylish Silverlens Gallery is renowned for representing a number of accomplished and internationally recognised artists. The gallery specialises in wall-based artworks such as oil paintings and photography and is revered for its high standard of the latter. Representing both international and local artists, Silverlens Gallery is a major player on the international art fair scene, showcasing work in Art Basel as well as many others.
By Bethan Morgan