Future Philippine artscape: Shifting direction for Manila art museum – Philstar interview



Looking to the future of Philippine art, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila has inaugurated a permanent contemporary art exhibition.

On 8 February 2013, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila opened its first permanent exhibition of modern and contemporary art, “Philippine Connection: To Scale the Past and the Possible.” Writing in the Philippine Star on 2 February, John Magsaysay spoke to museum president Tina Colayco and curator Dr. Patrick Flores.

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila now exhibits modern and contemporary art. © Creative Commons.

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila now exhibits modern and contemporary art. © Creative Commons.

Click here to read the full article, titled “The Met’s new guards and the future of Philippine contemporary art”, as published the Philippine Star.

According to Colayco, the last decade has seen the rise of a distinctly Philippine identity in contemporary art, with substantial growth in support structures and opportunities for artists and a change in public attitude to the arts. These shifts encouraged the Met to redefine its focus and introduce contemporary artworks into its collection, as Colayco explains in the interview.

I think we have, at this time, a public that is more sophisticated, and at the same time, is looking for a more meaningful engagement with art and culture. They are willing to cultivate a more in-depth experience when they go to museums. I think that is one of the main reasons why a museum, like the Met, wishes to be able to stand for something, so that we are able to say that we are going the route of contemporary art and design for a better understanding of who we are and our art and culture.

However, Colayco points out that the opening of “Philippine Connection” does not signify a sea-change for the Museum: the institution will continue with its core mission of showcasing traditional works. She hopes that by adding contemporary artworks, audiences will come to better appreciate and understand the museum’s older collections, as well as the contemporary context of Philippine art.

Jose Santos III, assemblage from the installation 'Skewed', 2012, oil on canvas, collage on canvas, metal, wood, plastic and resin. Image courtesy Art Informal.

Jose Santos III, assemblage from the installation 'Skewed', 2012, oil on canvas, collage on canvas, metal, wood, plastic and resin. Image courtesy Art Informal.

The president sees the last ten years as an exciting time for contemporary art in the Philippines, with a surge in the number of galleries and museums and growing opportunities for young artists. In the interview, curator Patrick Flores explains that the Met’s support for contemporary art is part of a wider positive trend in the country.

Since there is market interest, there is also consciousness in supporting the arts. There is also some kind of impetus for institutions to cultivate the conditions for contemporary art to flourish. Many institutions have started nurturing their own contemporary art programmes, so that’s institutional patronage. The other form is, of course, collecting. We have seen a very active set of collectors in the Philippines, like Paulino Que, as well as young ones supporting the primary market and the secondary market both here and abroad. They go to auctions, they go to fairs, and at the same time, they support our local galleries. And another type of support system is the gallery system. It has expanded its spaces, attesting to the demand of contemporary art to be shown properly in wide open spaces. Before they were only seen in small galleries in the malls. We have a growing demand from quite a sophisticated public for contemporary art.

As Colayco also sets out in the interview, the Met plans to support the future development of Philippine art, aiming to offer residency programmes to young Filipino artists and also considering the possibility of working with school age children. Colayco additionally outlines projects promoting global dialogue on contemporary art, such as ASEAN-sponsored exhibitions and residencies offered to international artists.

Have you visited “Philippine Connection: To Scale the Past and the Possible” in Manila? Tell us what you think of the Met Museum’s new direction in the comment section below.

Related Topics: art museums, Filipino art, art museum collections, art events in Manila

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