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What happens when group of students create a Set Design & Build Class Project, which they call Set in the Street, inspired by Justin Bettman at the iconic site in the heart of Cebu City?

Amazing happens.

That’s what the 3rd Year Students of University of San Jose Recoletos (USJR) DJC LIACOM did and it was awesome.

The Inspiration:

Set in the Street: Cebu City

Set in the Street is an ongoing art project by US-based photographer Justin Bettman. It consists of elaborate and detailed interior sets made from unwanted or discarded materials and furniture. After shooting photos of the interiors with models, the sets are left on the street where passersby can take their own photos and share it on Instagram using the hashtag #setintheStreet. According to Bettman’s website, “the shoots explore the complex ideas of perspective and perception through revealing the larger picture that we often overlook.” These sets are constructed in different cities all over the world.

See Justin Bettman’s works.

The Project:

Set in the Street: Cebu City

#setinthestreetcebu is a Set Design & Build Class Project of the 3rd Year students of USJR Dept. of Journalism & Communications – LIACOM course under Production Designer, Architect Kaloy Mapeso Uypuanco. This was a finals project for their class in Cinematography Techniques and Set Design. The team created their own bedroom setup right smack in the historic grounds of Magellan’s Cross in downtown Cebu City.

Set in the Street: Cebu City

Kaloy said, “We chose Magellan’s Cross Grounds because we want to launch the project in an iconic place in Cebu City which is line with the project’s tagline – “unordinary scenes in ordinary places”. Although the site is far from ordinary because it houses the first Christian cross planted by Portuguese and Spanish explorers led by Ferdinand Magellan upon arriving in Cebu in 1521.

Set in the Street: Cebu City

As a Production Designer, Kaloy and his class wanted to experiment placing a set in a very visible and public place especially here in the Philippines where it is difficult to assume how people would react to such a project. He asked permission from the artist Justin Bettman himself and embarked on the task by assigning it as a class project to involve the students.

The Team:

Set in the Street: Cebu City

The class partnered with White Brick Creative Studio and Boysen Paints Philippines for the project.

The Materials:

Set in the Street: Cebu City
Boysen Paint Colors: Indian Necklace, Turkish Teal, Island Breeze

Set in the Street: Cebu City

Set in the Street: Cebu CitySet in the Street: Cebu City

Set in the Street: Cebu City

Another interior mural in Cebu City which uses Boysen paint can be found in the Redbull Cebu HQ.

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It was already our last evening in Hong Kong. Further shopping in the night market was out of the question since my pocket money had ran out. I was even having second thoughts about going to Disneyland for our last day since the ticket cost HKD 500+.

With my habitual indecisiveness, I googled “things to do in Hong Kong this week” for alternatives to seeing Mickey Mouse. I got into this website where they featured a lot of activities and events around the world-class city.

My eyes widened when I saw the Must-See list.

Joan Cornellà: A Hong Kong Themed Solo Exhibition.

The Joan Cornellà!?

If you’re a 9gagger or a lurker in the internet, there’s a 90% chance you’ve seen his works. The Spanish-born cartoonist and illustrator is famous for his dark, humorous and unsettling themes.

This was my chance. I doubt if he’d visit Manila anytime soon. Disneyland isn’t going anywhere anyway so with indecision thrown out the window, I grabbed this opportunity.

The next morning, my friend and I hopped onto the train to Quarry Bay.

The exhibition was held at Space 27 in Tung Chong Factory Building, along King’s Road, just a few steps away from the train station.

It was 15 minutes to opening time, and groups of people were gathered in the lobby. I assumed that these people were students and/or graduates of a design course, or maybe just patrons. In any case, we were the only Filipinos there.

At the 10th floor, I got a little nervous when we read the sign beside the entrance door: “PRIVATE EVENT FOR ONLINE REGISTERED GUESTS ONLY”. Heart sinking, I thought our trip was all over.

I went to ask the receptionist if they accepted walk-ins, she smiled and said of course. Oh yeah! With great eagerness, we paid cash for the HKD 50 ticket per person.

The whole space for the exhibit was minimal. As I walk around, it was pretty chill and I feel like they were playing music from a Spotify playlist.

In the center was a medium-sized statue of a cartoonish man with a blank smile holding a “selfie-stick” but instead of a phone, a gun was attached to it. It was a popular one, and people went for the irony by taking selfies beside it.

As I went through walked around the exhibit, some of the artworks were familiar, thanks to the internet. Panel by panel, I could hear myself laugh or grin in frustration.

What I like about his artworks is that they are extremely provocative. You laugh yet it would make you feel bad at the same time. They’re surreal yet they paint a deeper meaning, and make you reflect especially about what’s happening nowadays.

The influences of technology, sex, drugs, racism, suicide and more — Cornellà tackled these issues and he was able to execute something that triggered, your mind, and makes you realize whether you’re a sick bastard or an empathic person.

In his words: “I think we all laugh at misery. We must start from the idea that when we laugh, we laugh at someone or something. With empathy or not, there is always some degree of cruelty. In spite of that, I am aware that if one of my cartoons happened in real life I would not laugh at all.”

This exhibit ran from May 6 to 21.

Of all the countries that I’ve been to thus far, I think Seoul tops the list for most Instagram-worthy city. There’s just always something to photograph—the sleek and shiny office buildings in Gangnam, the beautiful architecture of its universities, the tree-laden parks which dot every district of this megacity, the quirky shops and cafes, the weird but captivating street art along deserted alleyways, and the list goes on.

Not to be overlooked, though, is the Seoul Trick Eye Museum. What makes this museum so unique is that instead of being a typical art gallery where one merely looks at the paintings, one can be a part of the painting themselves. The paintings housed in the museum are created using a technique called trompe-l’œil, which is French for “deceives the eye.” This particular art style gives each 2D masterpiece the illusion of being in 3D.

Trompe-l’œil is not a new concept, it’s been around since the ancient Romans (as archeological expeditions have discovered). This art style has been used for architectural paintings to create the illusion of higher ceilings through mural artworks. It was also used to depict doors or windows, making the room look larger than it actually is.

Ancient painters have used this style for grand projects like cathedrals and the like, but they also used it for fun and mischief. An example is from the book Lives of Artists (1550) which contained the story of Giotto’s fly where a Florentine painter named Giotto decided to paint a tiny fly onto the mural that his master Cimabue was working on. Unaware that it was actually just a true-to-life painting, Cimabue almost went crazy in trying to shoo the fly away!

The Seoul Trick Eye Museum pays homage to stories like these. There’s a section inside the museum where you can include yourself in classical paintings and another which was solely dedicated to water related artworks (think: mermaids, sharks, fishes, etc.). While some of the artworks were fun and classy, some were downright naughty. Proceed with caution in posing with these mildly indecent paintings!

Before we headed out, we went to the Ice Museum which was located in the same building. Did you ever wish your house was made entirely out of ice especially now in the sweltering Manila heat? If you did, then this place is just for you. It even has a slide (made entirely out of ice!) that you can slide down on. Unfortunately, I was wearing a skirt so I had to pass on that one.

Get there as early as possible so you don’t have to wait in line to have your photos taken. Having less people around also means less embarrassment as you make awkward poses with the paintings. Also, wear shorts or pants, I can’t stress enough how difficult it was to pose in a skirt, especially when you had to lie down on the ground. And with that, go ahead and fill your camera roll with enough Instagram photos to last you a lifetime!

Fernando Modesto has been working as an artist for more than 40 years. Last weekend, he held an exhibit in Shutterspace Studios in Quezon City where he displayed some of his works from the 80s to the late 90s. This was a very important exhibit to him because it served as a fundraiser to support his daughter, Roxy, who wants to follow her dreams and study in New York.

Image credit: Isabel San Jose

Most of the works he displayed were oil paintings. Some pieces are inspired by concrete concepts, such as angels, ice cream, and Cannes, while others are much more abstract and open to interpretation, such as the pieces like Feel Picasso, Ray, and Kafka’s Hair. He also experiments with various media at times, most notably his piece Droplets, with acrylic paint and marbles, and his lithographic prints from the 80s like Dracula.

The most notable aspect of Modesto’s art is the playful undertone of his paintings. He often uses bright, pastel colors and rarely uses neutrals or dark shades (one of the exceptions would be his piece Float, with warm, soft tones of brown). His colors are never loud, slightly subdued but not overwhelmingly soft. His art is positive and does not delve into the depths of death and sadness, and this works to his advantage as his critics and fans admire him for the very reason that Modesto’s art can always bring a smile to your face and leave you happy for the rest of the day.

Float
Kafka’s Hair

The piece that I was really drawn to the most was Kafka’s Hair, so drawn to it that I bought it. I loved it because of the colors and abstract patterns. The contrast between the dark blue splotches together with the soft yellow-green background really caught my eye. The way the dark colors deviated from the muted shades helped it stand out, especially since these extreme variations in tone weren’t very common in the works presented that night.

The piece’s ambiguity was also an important factor for me because I love artworks that don’t have a definite meaning or inspiration. I feel like artists allow their creativity to flow more when doing abstract art since they aren’t restricted by anything.

Other than this piece, Feel Picasso, Droplets, and Ray were also favorites of mine.

Feel Picasso
Droplets
Ray

I had a short conversation with him and Eleanor during the event —

KAI LAURIDSEN: Is that your hand? (referring to Feel Picasso)

FERNANDO MODESTO: Yes, because it’s small (chuckles). Because everything that’s created begins with the hands.

KL: What’s the significance behind the colors?

FM: Colors are life. When you have colors, it becomes alive; without colors, you are dead.

KL: This series if full of joyful colors, bright colors, right? And this was in the late 90’s right? Were you very happy then or it doesn’t matter if you’re happy?

FM: I’m always happy (laughs). Only dead people are sad.

KL: Compared to the rest of the work exhibited here, the piece Float stands out because of the absence of happy colors. Why is that?

FM: I experimented with brown, and I also had a lot of brown paint [then].

KL: What is your favorite color?

FM: Green, and that shade of blue (referring to Ray).

KL: (To Eleanor Modesto) Which piece displayed here is your favorite?

EM: It’s not one particular work but I really like the series of lithographs. There are about six of them that I really like because they are very playful, and… you know he created them in 1983? But they’re still new and modern , that’s why I like the series, it’s like it didn’t change, They are still as fresh. He had to paint and draw on stone, and he used that stone to print manually. He used really big stones, then to make another one, he would erase the painting on the stone and draw another print.

Back to Kafka’s Hair. Modesto told me that the whole canvas was Kafka’s face, with his curly hair framing the top. The blue swirls the style of Kafka’s writing. Modesto said, “Kafkaesque,” which is defined by Merriam-Webster as “having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality,” especially in relation to “bureaucratic delays.”

Cover photo by Isabel San Jose

Left: Ronald Ventura’s Remnants of Journey 2016 (Fiberglass, Resin, Polyurethane Paint, Dimensions Variable) Right: Elaine Navas’ The Earth Is Upheld by a Cow of Blue Color (After Roni Horn) 2016 (Oil on Canvas, 183 cm x 243.99 cm)

2017 has been another successful year for the Philippine Art Events, Inc.  A project of theirs that started in 2013, Art Fair Philippines has grown exponentially since the first year.  This event that began as a way for galleries and artists to gather together to showcase their work has not only attracted potential buyers, but also art enthusiasts, curious people, as well as social media-addicted teenagers.

The event was held on the 5th, 6th, and 7th floors of The Link in Makati. The 5th floor was used mainly for sponsors whereas the 6th floor was where the galleries were. Talks were held on the 7th floor. Each of the galleries curated the best work from their inventory to showcase in their exhibits. Often you would find either the owner or the manager of the gallery there to assist you, and if you were lucky, you would even find some artists in the area.

The exhibit hall was also used for installations, not necessarily owned by galleries. Some spaces were used by the artists themselves to showcase their work.

Lin Vinluan’s Mass Hysteria Number Two 2017 (Oil on Canvas, 48 x 72 inches)
A fraction of Ferdie Montemayor’s giant mural, Of the deflection of contestation.
A mixed media artwork by Ged Merino & Aze Ong displayed on a blank wall.

What was also notable about the Art Fair was the presence of international galleries, most of them from Asia. Osaka-based gallery YOD x Kogure displayed some of the finest works from acclaimed Japanese artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Nobuyoshi Araki, while also showcasing the work of more contemporary Japanese artists like Takuro Sugiyama. Some of the pieces they were selling were only prints, yet they still carried a hefty price tag.

The highlight from this gallery were the rare pieces of artworks by Yayoi Kusama from the 90s and 80s. A few were priced at around 1.5 million Php while others went as far as 10 million Php.

Yoshitomo Nara’s Fuckin’ Politics (2003) (21.86 x 28.75 in Offset Lithograph ed. 2000)

Another foreign gallery displaying their works in the Art Fair was the Michael Janssen Gallery from Berlin. Despite being a German gallery, none of the work they showcased during the Art Fair were created by European artists; all of the artworks were made by Asian artists, a majority being Filipino artists.

The gallery’s manager, Nikolai Kleist Burkal, said that they made sure to choose the pieces made by Asian artists for the Art Fair. He said that Filipino art still lacks exposure in the international market and not a lot of galleries outside of the country carry the works of Filipino artists. What characterizes the Philippine art scene, he said, is the “more informal and relaxed” environment, something that appealed to the foreign galleries.

Left: Man Ray’s Le Violon d’Ingres (1924) Right: Man Ray’s Noire et Blanche (1926)

Practically all of the artworks displayed were Asian, but hidden amongst all the paintings and installations were two photographs by one of the most iconic American photographers in history. One gallery displayed a few prints of vintage photographs, two of which were prints of Man Ray’s most famous portraits of French model Kiki de Montparnasse, Le Violon d’Ingres and Noire et Blanche (the original photograph is currently on display in The Museum of Modern Art in New York).

Tromarama Classroom 2016 (80 x 150cm, Edition 3/5 + 3 AP 3D Lenticular Print)

The popularity of the Art Fair (especially among the youth) showed that art in the Philippines is no longer something that is exclusive and elitist. The Art Fair is becoming more popular each year with attendance increasing each year. Are more people slowly opening up to appreciating the arts? Or is the Art Fair becoming more popular because people want to get more likes on social media?

A significant amount of onlookers were there to pose for pictures rather than appreciate the art being displayed. You couldn’t miss those millennials who posed “candidly” against an “Instagrammable” backdrop, asking friends to photograph them, and be preoccupied by their photos rather than the artwork. One can argue that it’s not the “proper” way to view art, but one can also say that this is a start that can lead to a greater appreciation for culture.

Capturing details on the ‘metamorphosis’ gallery
A portion of Betsy Westendorp’s Al Di La de la Vita (Beyond Life)

At least art is more accessible to the public now. Maybe not everybody can appreciate it as well as the experts can, but the popularity of the Art Fair clearly shows that people are valuing the arts now more than ever. Regardless of whether people consume art the “proper” way or not, at least the arts are being acknowledged, and that in itself is a very good thing.

Photos 3, 4, and the last two were taken by Almira Tenioso, Let it B’s artiste extraordinaire. All the rest were taken by Kai Lauridsen.