Manila to Mayfair: the journey of contemporary Filipino art

Stories of Dreams and Realities

Please refer to the exhibition catalogue to find this collection of works produced by contemporary and eclectic Filipino artists, assembled by the Drawing Room in Manila, exhibited in the heart of Mayfair at the Rossi & Rossi Gallery (June-July).

A Retrospective

One glance at the collection is all it takes to confirm that Filipino art of today has reached new heights of expression, extending far beyond the cliched messages usually decorated in the red, blue, yellow and white colours of the flag. 

Martin Clist, co-ordinator at Rossi & Rossi shares his impressive knowledge of the artists and their works (paintings, sculptures and installations) with my friends and I as we look over each artwork. Renowned artist Alfredo Alquilizan’s ‘Landscape Painting’ is in fact made up of one painting (not several paintings) that he had bought, cut up and framed individually. There are suddenly 40 or so different scenes, 40 or so different stories for the viewer to imagine.

Troy Ignacio’s paintings are sinister and not obviously beautiful of course, but the ‘ugliness’ and the sense of poverty and illness is something that is still relatable. I snort appreciatively at Jose Legaspi’s painting which depicts a man glaring out at the viewer  – holding excrement in his right hand. Until your attention is drawn to what he is holding in his hand, the painting is normal, though it is anything but that. Nothing, as they say, is as it seems.  

A gleaming steel installation (Lirio Salvador) of spoons and cogs is hung on a wall. It is a reinvention of material and purpose: an intricate, decorative steel guitar connected to an amp which you can pluck at!

Martin wonders out loud about the name of the exhibition: ‘Stories of Dreams and Realities’; I agree with the choice of the title. The paintings and installation that I’ve highlighted above are just my personal favourites, but each of the works in the exhibition tells a unique story of its own. There will be more than one artwork which reminds you of something familiar you’ve experienced before, but one you cannot for the life of you describe or recall with sharp clarity. Was it a memory or something of a dream? The choice of artworks on display are expertly chosen in a way which expresses an incomplete journey of a dream or reality. 

I remember how self-fulfilling looking at art can be, how much I appreciate a form of expression that makes up for when one is lost for words. Although it is a private experience, it is great to share with others. The innate dedication in the artist and his/her art to empower the observer to imagine and create is selfless.

Most of the artwork from ‘Stories of Dream and Realities’ has been sold to both Western and Asian customers, awakening the world to contemporary Philippine art – an international success. We leave the gallery in hope that Filipino art continues to arrive to London.

Kat Cruz

Request for Filipinos to interview (aged 16-25) in Newham

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A Newham based author is looking for some willing interviewees for research on a new book. The author will not disclose names or personal details, and would like to stress that this is purely for background research on the hopes and aspirations of second/third generation British-born Filipino young adults. The author is looking to interview at least two males and two females.

Ideally, interviewees should be:

– between the ages of 16 – 25, live in Newham
– attended either St Angela’s or St Bonaventure’s schools

Expressions of interest should be sent to Farzana on @farzanabanana on Twitter or Claire on claire@philippinegenerations.org.

Arrangements will then be made for 45mins interview. Author is happy to recompense interviewees with coffee and cake! (And of course an acknowledgement in the book if you are in agreement).

Many Thanks in Advance


Modern Philippine Art, with love from Manila

Stories of Dreams and Realities exhibition at the Rossi & Rossi Art Gallery in Mayfair has been officially extended until next Friday 29th August. (disregard the dates on the website) Check this out!!
The collection, carefully selected by Cesar Villalon Jr., is from the Drawing Room – one of the most prolific art spaces in Manila. Photos of the artwork can be seen on the website and all pieces are for sale. A couple have already been sold to both Filipino and Western art collectors.
According to exhibition co-ordinator Martin Clist, Philippine art is being recognised as an ’emerging market’ which should raise hopes of developing artists who have something to contribute to the Philippine arts – both at home and abroad.
There are works by Alfredo Alquilizan, Kawayan de Guia and Jose Legaspi who make up 4 out of the 11 artists featured. Paintings, 3D sculpted models and an exciting steel installation by Lirio Salvador (artwork-turned-instrument!) make up this inspiring collection. Please refer to the catalogue, and come along to the gallery! Not to be missed.
Exhibition extended until Friday 29th July
10am – 5.30pm
Rossi & Rossi Gallery
16 Clifford St, W1S 3RG (Green Park/Picadilly Circus tube stations)    
*Rossi&Rossi Gallery is an art space dedicated to classical and contemporary Asian art. 
K.A. Cruz