BY FIEL ESTRELLA
PHOTOGRAPHS BY NIKKI BONUEL
In its early days, ArtInformal was a way for artists and curators to reach out to an audience beyond the art world by helping to form, broaden, and refine tastes and educate aspiring collectors, enthusiasts, and casual observers.
Efforts eventually led to the opening of a contemporary art gallery in Greenhills—but traffic has made it become quite a trip to make for those who don’t frequent the area.
Early this year, the gallery managed to bridge the gap through a new art space in Karrivin Plaza, located just a few doors down from Aphro, the art and design establishment that serves as an extension of ArtInformal in a retail setting. According to founder Tina Fernandez, the outpost, dubbed AI2, extends ArtInformal’s efforts of developing art appreciation to a larger crowd because it’s easier to access, and it’s able to highlight different themes and material than its predecessor.
One of the major goals of AI2 is to assure that the pieces on display are the sole spectacle, and to achieve this, the place took on a minimalist, art-focused look. The 412-square-meter, two-storey location, in another life a dance studio and a recruitment agency, holds an office, three rooms for exhibitions, and a bar and lounge area that doubles as storage, reminiscent of the original ArtInformal kitchen and a deliberate homage to its inviting atmosphere.
In conceiving the space, Fernandez worked with architectural firm Jagnus Design Studio, with whom she had previously collaborated on Aphro, as well as industrial designer Mark Wilson of WE Design, to create a space that’s contemporary yet charming, with white walls, concrete flooring, and cool white metal details. Wilson’s lighting design is easy on the eyes, providing comfort while accentuating proportion and volume of space. Walls were knocked down, and a sleek staircase was built in an area that puts it front and center, breathtaking and eye-catching on its own.
Fernandez is a firm believer that daily life would be much better if we surround ourselves with art and design. ArtInformal’s Greenhills space, a converted mid-century modern home, is a testament to that. At ArInformal, art begins to feel more personal, and it becomes more certain that it has a place in the inner lives of all kinds of people. At AI2, with its attic-like second floor and large windows, you can’t help but think, “I could live here,” as well.
The three rooms allow AI2 to hold three different exhibits in one space, and according to Fernandez, who decides on the lineup of shows herself, concurrent exhibits are often harmonious, their themes and imagery working together to create a larger context and idea. Visitors, then, can enjoy the works of the artists distinctly as well as in relation to one another. This is an altogether new and different experience compared to ArtInformal in Greenhills, which now exclusively holds curator-led group exhibitions, while AI2 highlights solo shows and artists.
The group shows at ArtInformal run longer, and tend to be grander, to make them worth the travel. That’s not to say that the solo shows at AI2 aren’t equally interesting—again, they’re just different, and each worth experiencing for oneself.
Through a range of art forms, at times shedding the spotlight on all sorts of processes and materials, there’s no shortage of conversations and ruminations on creation. And in the midst of all the interaction and reaction, you get to just enjoy art.
AI2 is at Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati. ArtInformal is at 277 Connecticut Street, Greenhills East, Mandaluyong.