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Filipino artists join HK exhibit

03 April 2017

Filipino art works as displayed inside a Conrad Hotel room.

By Daisy CL Mandap

For the first time in the Asia Contemporary Art Show in Hong Kong, six Filipino artists from Manila had the chance to exhibit their works in what is considered to be the first in a series of big arts events in the territory.

From March 17-20, the six lucky artists –Norlie Meimban, Gerrico Blanco, Richard de la Cruz, Jaime Gobaton, Jojo Ramirez and Ferdie Cacnio- had the chance to show off their best pieces to thousands of art lovers who trooped to Conrad Hong Kong for the annual exhibition, a prelude to the world-renowed Art Basel and Art Central.

The ground-breaking project was the brainchild of Hong Kong-based artist and art enthusiast Abigail Camaya-Hills, who thought it was high time exemplary Filipino artists were given the attention they deserved.

Members of the Filipino community in hong Kong
host a dinner for visiting artists from the Philipines,
led by National Artist Ben Cabrera. 
“As a regular attendee of the Asia Contemporary Art Show and as an art collector, I noticed that there wasn’t much representation from Filipino artists. If there was, it would be a gallery carrying one sole Filipino artist. I felt we needed to show that Filipino artists are just as good (or even better) than the international ones. However, the cost to exhibit in such events is quite prohibitive so no one takes the initiative. I thought it could be my way of giving back and help promote Philippine art,” Hills said.

True enough, many of those who viewed the works brought to Hong Kong by Hills’ Galleria Camaya could not help but compare them to the others on display from different countries, and saw them to be at par, if not superior.

Shortly after the exhibit opened, in fact, a painting by Blanco priced at $26,000 was snapped up. Before the four-day show ended, more than 50% of the works sold out – impressive by any standards, but even more so for a first-time participant in the fair.

Hills said she was heartened by the enthusiastic response she got for her artists, all of whom she chose personally.

“I managed to identify award-winning artists who may not necessarily be well-known yet in the Philippines and whose works I liked and would collect myself if given the chance - and I was proved right. The ones I liked most were the first to be snapped up,” she said.

Even more rewarding for her were the praises elicited by the works she helped bring to international attention.

“The Pinoys were very proud of the outstanding works we brought,” she said , “while the non-Pinoys were amazed at the talent, technique and originality of their works.”

She said many of those who were blown away by the works were local art students who felt compelled to coax the artists to explain their work to them. She also noticed that most of those who bought the works were young and new collectors.

Hills said she was glad to have helped the artists gain more than just overseas acclaim. “Through this small step, I am happy to have been able to help improve the lives of our struggling but hugely talented artists. We even got them tickets to attend the Art Basel and Art Central so they could broaden their art knowledge and see the masters’ works. I’m happy they all went home with some cash and inspiration for future artworks”, she said.

So inspired is she by the result of her first foray into art exhibition that at this early stage, she is already looking forward to next year’s show.

“We’ve already identified three more new artists to bring over next year, so watch this space,” she said.
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