THIS year’s ManilArt stayed true to its theme, “Art According to All,” by gathering galleries and artists from Batanes to Mindanao and by catering not only to art connoisseurs but also to neophytes.

Held at SMX Aura in Taguig City on Oct. 9-13, the art fair gathered more than 40 galleries from all over Philippines. It featured 500 artists and 1,400 artworks.

In the run-up to the fair, ManilArt held an art caravan in the regions—in Batanes, Cebu, Baguio, Palawan and Bacolod—to drum up support for the fair as well as get the participation of regional artists and galleries.

This year’s fair also introduced a vetting committee which screened artworks for exhibition. It also required galleries to curate their exhibits.

Artworks this year were fewer than last year’s but highly selected, said ManilArt board member Delan Robillos. “Hindi na puwedeng parang art fair lang na tiangge. A lot of people are saying that this is a better venue, a better event than last year’s because of curation and concept.”

Works of UST alumni were highlighted in the catalogue and tickets of the 2013 ManilArt.

Physician-artist Dante Lerma’s “Full of Grace” is a trompe l'oeil take-off from French painter Pierre Mignard’s “La Vierge Aux Raisins” (The Virgin of Grapes). Unlike Mignard’s painting, however, Lerma’s rendition is an acrylic on canvas that depicts the Virgin Mary packaged in orange paper and strings in a three-dimensional look.

Lerma, grand prize winner of the first GSIS National Painting Competition, is known for his religious subjects. A member of the medical staff of the UST Health Service, he said he painted the work in time for October, the month of the Holy Rosary.

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Meanwhile, foreign-based artist Wilfredo Offemaria Jr. paid tribute to Filipino expatriate and migrant workers in his painting depicting pigeons. The UST Fine Arts major in Painting alumnus depicts pigeons in shades of blue to represent the different circumstances in which OFW’s find themselves in foreign lands.

Offemaria has won the grand prize in the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ Diwa ng Sining Art Competition and honorable mentions in the Metrobank National Painting Competition and Philip Morris Asean Art Competition.

Another Thomasian artist highlighted by the fair was the late Paco Gorospe (1939-2002).

Works of National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco were also exhibited in the art fair. One of his studies, an undated water color on paper from the Dr. Norberto Martinez collection, depicted two Asian men walking away from a Chinese building.

Francisco is one of the Thirteen Moderns, who veered away from the traditional style of painting. He was among the first faculty members of the old UST College of Fine Arts and Architecture (Cafa).

Renowned sculptor Ramon Orlina, the builder of UST’s Quattromondial, showcased a set of new works which featured different colors of asahi glass inspired by the Swiss Alps.

Orlina said the Alps as abstracted by his sculptures represent spirituality.

Another product of the then Cafa, Edwin Tres Reyes showcased dream states through his oil-on-canvas paintings and resin sculptures. “Adi the Superhero” depicted a boy with a blue cape, a coned hat with a red mask holding a toy robot.

Young photographer Veejay Villafranca displayed “Displaced Earth,” a collection of photos which showed the drastic effects of climate change on the country. “Climate Series” depicts evacuees in Laguna who were affected by the heavy monsoon rains there last year. Other photos on light box depicted Filipinos who were affected by the flood brought by Typhoon Ondoy in 2009.

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Villafranca is an Advertising Arts alumnus and a scholar for photojournalism of the Asian Center for Journalism. He has exhibited his photos in London, Hong Kong and France.

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