Interview by Arianna Lim

Illustration by Gica Tam

Manila’s art market has seen an unprecedented swell in recent years. With a thriving gallery scene fortified by respected art awards and burgeoning auctions, the Philippines is pulling in a diverse range of collectors both new and established. At the forefront of these developments is Art Fair Philippines, the premier platform for showing and selling the best in modern and contemporary local art. Having just concluded their fourth successful year in Ayala Land’s The Link carpark, two of the fair’s founders, Trickie Lopa and Lisa Periquet, share their advice for those looking to venture into the exhilarating but understandably daunting pursuit of art collection.

Educate yourself about the art world

“We have a pulsating art ecosystem. If you’re into contemporary art, there are the awards: Ateneo Art Awards is always a good place to know about what the young artists are doing; there’s the Philippine Art Awards, which happen every other year; and there’s the CCP 13 Artists Awards. The gallery scene is thriving as well, and we have so many sorts of exhibits out there. Museums are also very clued in to what’s happening in the scene. Ateneo Art Gallery, Vargas Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD), Lopez Museum—those are great sources of inspiration, great venues to learn.” – Lopa

“Read! You might see something that you like, but don’t know where it’s coming from. Sometimes this is true even of the artists. If I read about famous modern artists, sometimes I can see what people are doing here, and those people might not even be aware that those things have been done before. It’s always good to be aware of the big picture.” – Periquet

Trust in your own eye

“Always be aware of the trends, but trust in your own eye. If you trust in yourself, those things will make you happy. You won’t be so happy about it if you just took someone’s advice.” – Periquet

“As will all pieces, you have to love it before you buy it. You have to believe in the artist and his work. It has to resonate with you. It’s hard to use the phrase “investing in art,” because of course certain pieces increase in financial value, but you shouldn’t just think of things that way.” – Lopa

Inform yourself about the piece

“They always say ‘buy what you like.’ Do buy what you like, but do inform yourself about everything about it: the artist, the artist trends, put the artwork in context if you can, so you know what exactly you’re buying. Educate yourself about why it’s special.” – Periquet

Study what is available

Go the galleries! There are so many. Not all are great, but it’s good to see the whole picture. After a while you’ll know what you like, you’ll know what quality work is. You’ll know if the artist is just producing stuff because it’s popular and he’s not moving on. You’ll be able to differentiate if the artist is working with a concept, that they have a thought, that every time it’s something different and he is trying to build on the past and do something new.” – Periquet

Art in the Park is also a good place to start.” – Lopa

*Art in the Park is an annual art fair held in the Makati Business District, in front of Ayala Land’s One Salcedo Place condominium and nearby Ayala Malls such as the Greenbelt and Glorietta complexes.

Do it because you love it

“Collect art because you love it. There’s no going around that. Don’t do it for potential gain—potential financial gain, especially. It’s not going to work. You have to love everything about it. That’s the main point.” – Lopa

Keep an eye out for the up-and-coming

Raffy Napay is quite young, but he’s already won the Ateneo Art Awards. Mac Valdezco is very underrated; her pieces take time to appreciate but they’re wonderful works. They’re very intense and they’re very quiet. It takes a special kind of eye to really appreciate them.” – Periquet

Buy smart

Always check the provenance of the works if you’re buying on the secondary market—which means, ‘Where did this thing come form?’ Even if you don’t have receipts, you need some sort of paper trail so you know it’s not a forgery or a fake. And look at the quality of the work, of course.” – Periquet

Keep pieces in shape

Also, always maintain your works properly. Our weather here is very bad because it’s so humid. Mold can grow. Keep pieces properly, even if you don’t display them. There are simple ways to keep them relatively safe from mold, like don’t stick them against the wall, give them a little gap so that air moves around it. Clean it once in a while—there are very basic means of cleaning, just make sure to know what you’re doing first. The value of the art will be kept if you maintain them right.” – Periquet

 

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