Art scene hots up in Manila

Art collectors in-the-know are flocking to Manila for the strength & affordability of its art, writes HELMI YUSOF

Published Mon, Sep 15, 2014 · 04:09 AM
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IN a chic restaurant in Manila, the "mother of Indonesian artists" was taking notes. With pen in hand, she scribbled down names of Filipino artists she wanted to commit to memory: "What did you say the artist's name was? Roberto... Cha... Chabet? Spell that for me please... And who's that other one? Arturo... Luz?" The crowd of curators and journalists she was dining with happily obliged with more names.

Melani Setiawan is a physician and an avid collector of Indonesian art for almost 40 years. She's even published a book on Indonesian art history. But like many regional art collectors, she was in Manila last weekend for the four-day Art Fair Philippines, getting a crash course in Filipino art and possibly collecting some works.

The Filipino art market, according to industry buzz, is the hottest South-east Asian art market right now. Several well-known art lovers had flown in to the country's capital city to gaze and gawk at the art by top artists such as Rodel Tapaya, Manuel Ocampo and Jose John Santos.

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