BY FIEL ESTRELLA
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOSEPH PASCUAL
Named for its address on Ermita’s Mabini street, the multidisciplinary art space 1335Mabini, upon its establishment in 2013, became the latest in a long line of curious and curiouser occupants at the century-old Casa Tesoro.
Surrounded by heritage houses and slice-of-life modern Manila, the colonial mansion has seen it all and been it all: a base for soldiers during the war, a post office, a nightclub, a money changer. 1335Mabini—the brainchild of Austrians Rudolph Kratochwill, an art collector, and Birgit Zimmermann, a gallerist, along with tribal art and antiques dealer Maria Closa—ended up giving Casa Tesoro a renewed purpose. Through the gallery, it could be home to beautiful, inspiring, and vibrant things, and it could help restore Manila’s reputation as a hub for the arts.
In 2017, four years after it was founded, 1335Mabini opened a new exhibition space in Makati’s Karrivin Plaza to serve as an extension of its Ermita headquarters, which has been renamed Mabini Projects. Its experimental flair feels right at home in the 250-square-meter location, with its white walls, stylishly arranged lighting, and industrial design. There is a lot of space to move around, and it comes off as matter-of-fact and straightforward, inviting conversation, exploration, and closer inspection. The new branch continues their tradition of showing local and international contemporary art, as well as holding workshops, talks, residencies, exchanges, and screenings. It focuses on solo exhibitions by exciting talents—the gallery’s roster includes Filipino artists Poklong Anading, Kiri Dalena, Tad Ermitano, Manny Montelibano, and Mark Salvatus, as well as international artists such as Hong Soun of South Korea, Yoshinori Niwa of Japan, and Peter Moosgaard of Austria. Mabini Projects, meanwhile, focuses on shows built upon certain themes and contexts.
The move was an effort to bring themselves closer to the art community, with the added incentive of being able to form relationships and forge partnerships with nearby creative spaces. Karrivin Plaza, after all, has become known as a hub for makers and creators with unique interests: like-minded and open-minded people indulging in and sharing what they love. 1335Mabini was founded with the goal of cultivating cross-cultural dialogue and challenging perceptions of art through reflections on politics, cultural consciousness, and history. In Casa Tesoro, it successfully bridged the gap between the old world and the modern age, the familiar and the strange. At its new location, despite the decidedly more current interiors, its affinity and respect for heritage remains—and along with it, its dedication to innovation and presenting many different points of view, now more accessible than ever to those who hunger for them. 1335Mabini is at Karrivin Plaza, Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati. The gallery is open from Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.