Sunday, December 23, 2007

Filipino Art on French Walls

Published in What's On & Expat, 23 December 2007

The French have a long and proud tradition of association with the visual arts with many 19th and 20th Century French artists being household names throughout the world. Who has not heard of Monet, Degas or Duchamp to mention just three? Less well known is the 17th Century French printmaker Jacques Callot. His innovations improved etching to such an extent that his work became a favored collectable of the Dutch master Rembrandt, a formidable printmaker in his own right.

Continuing in these footsteps, the Alliance Française de Manille is host to the Philippine Association of Printmakers’ latest group exhibition, The Medium is the Message. Meandering throughout the public spaces of the Alliance’s Nicanor Garcia St premises, this exhibition showcases almost the full gamut of techniques available to the contemporary printmaker. From serigraphs (screen prints) via wood cuts, lithographs, mono prints, intaglios (which includes etching and engraving), lino prints known colloquially as rubber prints to digital prints, which are often referred to by the French name of giclee, all are represented.

Two impressive woodcuts by Virgilio Aviado hang by the exhibition’s catalogue table. Architypal Pinoy I and Architypal Pinoy II are full length scrolls depicting life size renderings of contemporary Filipinos. The first is about the male of the species presented as a peace loving, guitar playing hippy on the left and a baton holding security guard on the right. The second shows 3 women, a nun in shades of black and grey is center with a teenager in crop top, short shorts and boots on her left and a society queen replete in a green gown holding a light gold clutch bag on her right.

Behind the information desk and a little to its right is a lithograph by national artist Jerry Elizaide Navarro. It is a1999 untitled commedia dell'arte inspired rendering of the comic/tragic theatre masks. Where the comic mask wears a salacious leer and the tragic mask questions the audience, it is a delightfully whimsical reading of the age old cliché.

On the wall of the corridor leading to the toilet, just before the restaurant, is a group of works that includes the African inspired works of Angelo Magno. The three rubber cuts and a monotype are recent works that explore the artist’s relationship with the Dark Continent through line and color. Babaylon: Medicine Woman and Diety are red faced mask like renderings with multi colored halos while Black Mask uses multi-colored lines to delineate its features. The monotype Mater Delorora is a black and gold depiction of a shrouded figure with a barely discernable halo.

Inside Le Coude Rouge restaurant hangs Bencub’s digital drawing Sabel with Moon, depicting a woman’s nocturnal affair with her pillows which are both her comfort and her nemesis. On the opposite wall is a pair of Janos Delacruz intaglio prints and on the mid point of the stairs to the second floor are two more. Pepito and the Urban Jungle shows a wide eyed, open mouth youth amid the extravagance that is a modern city and Traveling Insomniac hints at the terrors of enforced sleeplessness.

Upon reaching the upper level of the Alliance building, amongst the rewards, are four recent serigraphs by Bernard Temperosa. In these two tone, red and black, works two calligraphy inspired characters cavort in varying scenarios, each an environmental dance between danger and opportunity.

This multi-faceted exposition of the printmakers craft has many more gems than space constraints here allow to enumerate. The Medium is the Message at the Alliance Française de Manille, 209 Nicanor Garcia St, (formerly Reposo St) Makati City continues until 11th January 2008. Visit for more information.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I live on a globe, but it’s flat outside my door.

The camera never lies is a generally accepted, if erroneous, truism about photography, that implies a photograph is an accurate historical record of a place or event. It ignores the influence of the photographer upon the captured scene through their subjective influence of selection and timing. A captured moment in time, another photographic generalization, addresses the timing issue but continues to ignore the photographer’s scenic selectivity.

For the most part photography is about recording objects. The picture of an object as an expression of a place or the interaction between objects as an event supports the idea that photography is objective. The emphasis is on the recorded object as an expression of a truth. But it is a static, one off truth and truth is a great deal more complex, as the title of this essay alludes.

In the 21st Century it is an undeniable that the world is a ball, space travel and NASA photographs confirm a globe, but my interaction with it, my day to day truth, is with a plate, a walk down the street confirms a flat earth. Two ideas that would seem to be contradictions happily co-exist.

Dichotomies such as this have fueled artists in the creation of their work from the secular scenes used to illuminate religious teachings via cubist renderings of three dimensions as two to the paradoxes that live at the heart of modern art. The art that comes out of conflicting ideas is facilitated by the artist’s ability to interact with their materials of production as much as the objects used for their portrayal. It is the means more than the ends that have enabled the exploration of the paradoxes.

This duality exists within Digital photography. On one hand is the captured image, a record of what was in front of the lens that can be rendered to paper or canvas, on the other, which informs the rendering, is a binary code that carries the information that is the photograph. Unlike the film negative it is an easily accessible and adjustable mathematical expression that stores the information.

The interaction with this information code enables the photographer to become directly involved in the creation of the photograph rather than just a recorder of the scene. Like the painter or the sculptor who can use their materials as much as the objects they depict to make their work so the digital photographer has been given this freedom.

The digital photographer is able to produce photographs that explore ideas and their relative and often contradictory truths. With these means at their disposal they can capture a flat earth and then inform it with global proportions.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Building Blocks

Like Children's toys how they stack up determines what will be seen.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Means to an End

The ends’ justifying the means is a phrase that is most often trotted out when a questionable mode of behavior is called to account. From Machiavelli to Hitler to the War on Terror, the fixation on an end result is the dominant factor. So too it is for us as we go about our daily lives, but with the extremity of our actions, for the most part, being ameliorated by our moral compass.

The current group exhibition, On Common Ground, Uncommon Grounds, at The OWG Creative Centre Gallery calls this ethic into question. Three abstract artists, Resty Tica, Ric Hernandez and Demosthenes Campos use the process of production of their works to express their ideas. For them, by focusing on the means of creation they produce their aesthetically pleasing ends.

With his large digital mixed media on canvas works, Resty Tica presents us with digital prints atop larger painted surfaces. In Junk #9 and Junk #10 the predominantly white digital prints with their cross hatching and rust like patches sit on black painted larger canvases that recall city nightscapes. While in Vespa, the larger white panel with its subdued intricate color patches has a digital print overlay which captures the thrill of the ride as it draws you into its orange and yellow depths.

Demosthenes Campos’ mixed media works have a 3 dimensional quality which comes from the materials he uses for their construction. His canvas works have a translucent over painting that allows the underlying layers of canvas strips, painting and drawing to inform these Mondrian inspired works. Whilst in the series Over Looking III to VIII, Campos builds 6 delicate assemblages of disparate materials with a bird’s nest complexity which he secures to their paper supports with wax. Drops of which have been applied to the glass of their frames.

Found book end papers, mostly historical in nature, have been employed by Ric Hernandez to create his collages that reflect on the relationship between negative and positive spaces. These 10” x 14” framed works more often than not take their titles from the words and phrases found on the pages employed. In “Copyright 1946”, “Manila 1984”, “Man and Hero” Hernandez, through his use of space, allows the viewer to reflect upon the meaning of the words. Although with the piece “Gram-er”, its words could sum up his works in particular and this exhibition in general. “Dedicated to the people of the Philippines who do not speak Tagalog, that this volume may motivate them to learn the national tongue.”

On Common Ground continues at the OWG Creative Centre Gallery, Ground Floor, La Fuerza Plaza II, 2241 Don Chino Roces Ave. corner Sabio St., Makati City until the 27th December.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Outside for a Smoke

For all us social pariahs out there who must leave the room to indulge.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Yesterdays News, Today’s Art.

Published in What's On & Expat, 9 December 2007

The dramatic photograph on page one that halts the forks journey from plate to mouth will not necessarily have the same impact when hung on a gallery wall 30 years later. Photojournalism is about timeliness, objectivity and narrative whereas when viewed as a work of art timelessness and individual creative vision become paramount. Especially when the stories being told are long forgotten and the faces being shown are divas from another era.

That the current exhibition “5 Photographers”, at the Silverlens Gallery works as well as it does is a tribute to the curatorial skills of Jose Enrique Soriano. For these works are 35 to 45 years old and consequently can only be appreciated for their inherent aesthetic values. Which range from strong personal visions to the perennial subjects that still engage today’s photographers.

Foremost are the sepia toned, silver gelatin prints of the late Joe Gabor. The palms and mountain landscapes with an impending tropical storm, the lyrical horizontal lines of the fisherman casting his net and the 3 wide eyed children, all demand a second or third look. Although fire damaged these and the other few remaining works by Gabor, speak directly to the viewer and are as articulate today as when first made.

Ed Santiago’s “St Peter’s Harvest Study 1 and 2” along with the “Barong-barong” studies have such strong abstract qualities that they maintain their relevance for a contemporary audience. Likewise Mario Co’s colour portraits have a contemporary feel which would make them at home in today’s fan magazines. That being said his portrait of Daria Ramirez has a timeless quality about it that would do Cleopatra proud.

The other colour photographs in this predominately black and white exhibition are by Silverio Enriquez. Although not as vibrant as Co’s photographs, in “The Chinese in the Philippines” and “Stella Suarez”, Enriquez’s use of colour enhances the abstract qualities of his subjects. Whilst in his “Malacanang, the Palace” the interplay of the black and white shapes glimpsed through the front gate intrigues the eye.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Romy Vitug must feel truly justified. For much of his subject matter is the raw material from which modern photographers draw their inspiration. Variations on “Cool Water Games”, “Strange Summer School” or “Beasts of Burden” abound. Whether they will look as fresh 30 to 40 years hence is another question.

The “5 Photographers” exhibition, a tribute to 5 pioneering masters of Philippine photojournalism, although a trip down memory lane it does speak eloquently to a contemporary audience. For as Mark Twain is accused of saying "History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes a lot."

The exhibition continues at the Silverlens Gallery, 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati, until 20th December. For more info see

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Looking through the Trees for the Art

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat and stores across the nation have stocked their shelves to bursting point. In this season of good will, retailers both large and small facilitate the punters desire to part with their doh ray me to populate the space beneath the Christmas tree.

The blanc gallery has entered this fray with a wallpapered exhibition that is The December Show 2007. 120 works of art, all 16” x 24” in size and hung vertically, by 120 artists blanket the walls and spill out into the corridor leading to the gallery. Hung cheek by jowl it is a cacophony of anonymous voices that confront the viewer. For in this exhibition the works authors are unidentified, the pieces stand or fall on their intrinsic artistic merit.

Whilst this is the essence of what art is all about, it comes unstuck in this exhibition due to the sheer number of works in such a confined space. As you view one work there are at least 3 and up to 8 neighbors elbowing their way into the conversation. Highly recognizable derivative works can survive the onslaught whilst those who would speak with an individual voice struggle to be heard.

The hallmarkesque soulful hound of The Junior Boxer, the heavily Roy Lichtenstein influenced Pop Art Fiasco and the 60’s two tone piece, 7am all get a statement out within the 10 second sound bite before the neighbors demand your attention. The quietly spoken Cocoon #1, Idiot Wind and El Corazon are contemplative, individually stylistic works which struggle in vein to be heard above the clamor of their neighbors.

As the commodification of Christmas panders to instant gratification at the cost of its origins so the squeezing of this much art into such a small venue hinders the choice of a long term friend for the space above the mantle piece.

The December Show, 2007 at blanc gallery continues until the 16th of December at 2E Crown Tower, 107 H V dela Costa St, Makati City. Also see for participating artists.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It Takes Skill to be Green

Environmental concerns are grabbing headlines the world over. Global warming, oil prices heading for the stratosphere, land degradation, they are all grist for the media mill. What we have done to our planet and to a large part our apparent lack of concern are the raw materials that inspire Ruel Caasi’s latest exhibition, Oil Paintings, at the Drawing Room Gallery.

The title of the exhibition would seem to point an accusing finger at only one of the players. For the works in this exhibition are mixed media on canvas and paper with the aroma of linseed oil and turpentine being conspicuous by its absence. With that being said Caasi does use a broader brush within these works to ensnare a wider field of culprits, ourselves included.

The large canvases in the exhibition, which range from 4 to 6 feet in size, are Caasi’s bold statements. Using a palette predominantly of browns, black and muddied whites with the occasional dash primary colour, he creates his abstracted visions of plundered landscapes and swirling vortexes. Abstract expressionist workings of the paint inform “Proposed Artificial Landscape” and “Open Landscape from Satellite” with the latter having an eye catching cadmium yellow lighting bolt. The vortexes depicted in “Photo Sensitive 1 and 2” and “Cast a Circle on the Earth” have varying numbers of small squares applied which are arranged like Victorian lattice windows that have long lost their clarity.

Superimposed on all of Caasi’s canvases are large broken squares that mirror the pictures’ edges with their inner sections eaten away to reveal the underlying painting. This recurring motive is both a part of the painting and a frame that constrains. It also provides a bridge to the smaller works on paper in which the square motive dominates.

Framed under glass, Caasi’s works on paper create a more intimate conversation with his audience. In each a central square sits on a field of one colour that creates a subtle influence over it. The activity in these works happens within the central square or on its periphery. Like in “Catalyst” where the surrounding olive green informs the grey central square which on its lower left edge sits a dark green distorted rectangle with a slim rectangle of almost emerald green at its side.

Whether orating to the multitude or speaking quietly one on one, Ruel Caasi’s concerns for and about our planet come through loud and clear. That he can and does do both in this exhibition not only provides food for thought but also displays his skill as an artist. For as much as these works are about the environment they are also about the man and his materials.

Ruel Caasi’s “Oil Paintings” exhibition continues until the 15th of December at the Drawing Room Gallery, 1007 Metropolitan Ave, Makati.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Surreal Afternoon

If you’re a news junkie you would have noticed the abortive coup that happened yesterday afternoon here in Makati. For six hours a newly elected senator and an army general with 30 odd soldiers at his back along with some civilian supporters holed up in 5 star pub demanding the Philippine president resign.

Four years ago they pulled a similar stunt which resulted in them being hauled up before the local judiciary from which they did a runner earlier in the day for this reprise. The senator back then was a naval lieutenant and with the general lasted a couple of days before becoming smarter than General Custer.

Yesterdays unfolding saga was shown on TV in real time with a couple of studio anchors calling it like a PBA basketball game. Complete with blow by blow descriptions, instant replays, interviews with leading players from both sides, historical discussions, the whole nine yards. My favourite bit of the telecast was the hour long shot of an empty hotel corridor. Certainly did enliven a wet Thursday afternoon.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

54% are Happy

The Australian election is over and for the most part even the shouting has died down. Looking at the democratic process there seems to be a commonality between nations that indulge. First are the opinion polls published in MSM pre-election, then the real opinion pole on the day itself and then what emerges out of all the hubris. With the latter having a tendency to not look a lot like what was pledged preceding it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

On Chips and Concrete

First impressions are often unreliable, informed more by the confrontation of preconceptions than reality. When first arriving in the Philippines via Manila’s International Airport the contradiction with the tourist brochures of swaying palms on golden beaches by azure seas couldn’t be more stark. It is a grey metropolis that lays panting rather than basking under the tropical sun. But delving beneath this austere first impression one finds a multi faceted country of many and varied hues and textures.

So it is when entering the Artists Run Independent Art Space’s (ArIAS) latest exhibition “Circuit and Structure.” On the left are the large colourful renderings of cell phone innards by Milimar Onal, on the right are the subdued small abstracts of Choei Delo Santos. And with the pull of TV travel show the eye is drawn to Onal’s work.

On well worked impasto white grounds Onal presents the intricate greens, golds and reds of electronic circuitry. Spindly lines connect satellites to a central mother ship, small packets of information waiting to inform. Attractively packaged these works explore the phenomenon that is the Filipino love affair with instant communication to go.

Delo Santos’ smaller works present a more contemplative reading of life in a city such as Manila. Hard edged geometric shapes filled with a muted rainbow of bush strokes sit on the blue and yellow hues of grey. Here is an older experience informed by its history and climate, the structure that underpins the glitz and the gloss.

These two bodies of work coexist well together each giving substance to the other. As one attracts the other deepens the experience. Circuit and Structure continues until the end of the week at the ArIAS Gallery on the 3rd floor of the LRI complex at 210 N.Garcia (Reposo) St, Makati.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Regime Change in OZ

John Winston Howard the Australian Prime Minister is no more. He led his government to a resounding defeat in the national election yesterday. It also seems that he is also setting an historical mile stone in loosing his own seat. The first time a Prime Minister has got the boot in 78 years. Quite frankly it couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke.

The new kid on the block is the Labour party leader Kevin (Kevin07) Rudd. He has promised to ratify Kyoto and take the Aussie troops out of Iraq. Maybe there is hope for a land down under after all. That’s gotta be cause for a beer or 3. Although there is a small bit of a concern on the horizon, the new guy is a blonde.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Birthday at Maccas


Last Saturday the best beloved and I attended a birthday party at one of the McDo's (Mac Donald's) in Ortigas. Why a 12 month old would selected a Macca's for his first birthday celebration is beyond me, a 12 year old I can understand but a babe in arms...........
The food was as to be expected, but as I was hungry enough to eat a sumo wrestlers jock strap, down it went. Although I do find, as age snow white hairs on me, the brown carbonated sludge that masquerades as liquid refreshment quite unpalatable.
What does all this have to do with the picture, not a lot really, except it was taken there looking out the window into the Ortigas' night scape.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Questioning Attitudes

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players;” wrote Stratford-upon-Avon’s most famous son, William Shakespeare, some 400 years ago. And these words come to mind when viewing Jason Montinola’s first solo exhibition at The Big & Small Art Co Gallery. That the generic name for early Greek stage actors (hypokrites) is the root word for the modern day hypocrisy adds a certain poignancy to the show’s title of “Deceit”.

To enter the gallery is to enter another world that excludes the rampant commercialism of the Megamall and be surrounded by scenes which could easily have come from medieval morality plays. For Montinola’s oils on canvas are, in the main, large set pieces presented in a very mannered style with Gothic overtones along with a healthy nod towards surrealism.

Hung on black walls, these works boldly confront the viewer, like in “Tragic Apparition” where a red eyed woman stares unblinking from the canvas. Memories of a man in a kilt, another in a suit with a roll neck shirt and a small girl in a dunces cap surround her and the question in her eyes. Then there is “Jesus Who”, a close up of our saviour’s face presented in red tones with piercing blue eyes raised heavenward. The words escaping from the side of his mouth are left to the viewer’s discretion.

Montinola employs a larger cast in the triptych “Repentance” where a cavalcade of disparate pilgrims parade along a cat walk. Whether Canterbury bound or just our seven deadly friends and their attendants, they are far from repentant as they step out confidently towards the waiting abyss. Likewise, in the 48”x 60” “Greed Dog” in which a salacious canine in a suit stands confidently upright. Whilst to his right, standing in a pink domesticated animal’s food bowl, is a woman singing from a black covered book with her daughter at her side.

The theatrical artifice Montinola has employed to question these stereotypes ensures the works stay with the viewer after leaving the gallery. Which with the very young and innocent in mind, perhaps a PG rating should have been attached.

“Deceit” can be seen until the end of the month at The Big & Small Art Co on the 4th Level of Magamall in Mandaluyong City.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Expressive Forms are More Means than Ends

It is the expressionist artist’s aim, to get to heart of the matter, to discover the driving force that responds rather than just comment about the appearance. For them the journey of making the art is as important, if not more so, than its destination on the gallery wall.
The currently extended exhibition at Galerie Astra by Jose A. Ibay, Dante Perez and Jose Tence Ruiz convey their journeys with a mix of figurative works in Korpus 2. Each in their own way uses the human form to explore their ideas about the vulnerability of living in uncertain times. Where Ibay and Perez take an intimate view with their subject matter, Ruiz steps back to present a more worldly view.
In “Apres Moi Le Tsunami” Ruiz depicts a nude mechanic at work oblivious to mounting walls of water at his back. With the broader and somber brush work of the overhead machine and the mechanic he creates a silhouette against a tighter rendering of impending waves. In his triptych “Supa:Nanu, Supa:Uod, Supa:U2” the bush work is less evident as Ruiz employs a comic book approach to explore the evil that resides within the heart of man.
Dante Perez’s work focuses on a single figure in each of his canvases which fill the pictorial space and bring the viewers into his subject’s vulnerability. With the blue bulls eye of “Running” his intention is unmistakable as is the red torso of the one armed “Insurrecto”. Whilst with the acrylic and enamel “Umbra”, Perez’s expressive brush work within a blue and amber palette, his vision broadens to include alternative possibilities.
The ranges of possibilities that flit across the faces of Jose Ibay’s portraits give them the strength to confront life vicissitudes. Using acrylic paint and oil sticks each mark on the canvas adds to the sitter’s character which in turn enriches the viewer. With “Saplot na Paula” is the small red garment in her hand a gift being given or received? Likewise in “After the Rain” the questions are asked, the answers are bravely left for the viewer.
Korpus 2 has a few more days to run before the growing number of works on the floor claim their space on the walls. Art like life is not always a tidy affair especially when the emotional aspects bubble to the surface. If you’re quick you can catch these paintings on the 2nd floor of the LRI complex at 210 Reposo St, Makati City.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Recipe for Good Times

The third issue of the Expat Travel & Lifestyle magazine hit the streets yesterday and the event was celebrated in fine style at the New Orleans Restaurant. Situated in the modern mall that is Bonifacio High Street, all glass, concrete, steel and grass it could well be transplanted from a made for TV sitcom.
A jazz trio of sax, piano and bass played a wide selection of numbers ranging from a slightly shaky version of ‘Take 5’ to an excellent version of Australia’s unofficial national anthem, ‘Waltzing Matilda’.
A fine selection of Kendall Jackson wines were on offer with the 2004 Cab Sav being a delightful drop. The kitchen served up a consistently high standard of food over the four courses of soup, salad, main and desert. The best beloved went for the tuna steak with filo pastry and your humble scribe had the spare ribs, massarup!

The assembled writers, editorial staff and friends intermingled affably under the attentive eye of mine host, the Expat’s editorial and publishing consultant, Murray Hertz and the ever helpful restaurant staff. Of which the lovely but incorruptible Miss Claire was collecting business cards to go into the monthly draw for a free meal. She declined my offer of 500 pesos to unsure my card was the one, for the New Orleans Restaurant is very deserving of a second visit.

Monday, November 05, 2007

5th of November

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.
I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

If you haven’t seen the movie V for Vendetta it is 132 minutes of time well spent.

A futuristic tale that unfolds in an England that has become a fascist state. The main character, known only as V, is a masked freedom fighter who uses terrorist tactics and a wonderfully verbose vocabulary to fight the oppressive society. It’s Batman with a brain. It also has a script to die for, with many quotable lines.

“A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having!”

“Gentlemen, I want this terrorist found... and I want him to understand what terror really means.”

“My father was a writer. You would've liked him. He used to say that artists use lies to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover the truth up.”

“I'm not questioning your powers of observation, I'm merely remarking upon the paradox of asking a masked man who he is.”

“But again, truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty you need only look into a mirror.”

“I have not come for what you hoped to do. I've come for what you did.”

“Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it's my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.”

Saturday, November 03, 2007

All the Words Out There

I usually avoid blog memes like the plague but this one started by Peter Plagens at Grammar Police about art blogs was just too much to resist.

What's the purpose of your blog?
Pushing words around is a nice change from pushing pixels around.

What are the boundaries of your blog?
Boundaries? It's all grist for the mill.

Tyler has cited Joy Garnett's NewsGrist blog [hyperlink added —ed.] as doing a great job of "placing art within a sociocultural and political context." What I see on NewsGrist is a magazinelike interspersing of short profiles, exhibition reviews, op-ed pieces on how other people are covering things, and Village Voice–like political takes. But what does Tyler's comment mean to you, and why are blogs in general better positioned than print to do what he describes?
He’s sucking up? Dunno, never heard of NewsGrist until this thing came along, took a look and found it pretty boring really. Although blogs are better positioned to provide a voice that isn’t controlled by corporate interests unless self imposed.

Why can't blogs go further, to the point where there's hardly any discernible difference between artist and critic/commentator, blog and work of art?
Who says they can’t?

What scope and degree of editorial control do you exercise over your blog?
Absolute power corrupts absolutely, read The Expat at your own risk.

What about posting comments from readers, and what about anonymity?
Comment away, if its spam I’ll delete it, but anything else goes.

What's "trolling," and why don't some of you allow it?
If trolling is dissenting or disagreeable comments, you post it; learn to live with the Flack.

Is trolling really so easily identified and universally bad? Is having posters register a solution?
Now who is getting anal?

What about liability coverage?
Sue me, I could use the publicity

What's the economic model of your blog?

A freebee, although it has jagged me some MSM writing gigs so I guess it could be considered an earner of sorts.

How do you see your blog's relation to the established print art media?
When I write for the established media, arts or otherwise, I must play by the publications rules on my bog I make the rules.

How do you attract readers/posters other than by word of mouth?
Any SEO strategy I understand enough to make work.

In general, is blog art criticism more open and liberal, and print criticism more closed and conservative?
Well this is a no brainer, of course they are if they are independent, with the caveat of the blogger’s personality. If they are the online version of the print organization they will be constrained by the vested interests that constrain the print version.

Some people say that there's a dearth of art criticism at length on blogs. Is this true? If so, does it have more to do with reading on a computer in general, or with art criticism in particular?
Why say in a 1000 words what can be said in 300, unless you are being paid by the word?

Art magazines come out once a month. Newspaper art reviews usually appear once a week. Blogs appear more or less daily, and sometimes have updates by the hour. Do you think that the faster pace of blogs will start to affect the pace of art-making.
Only if the art is made for critics with blogs.

Tyler just said that there's more good art being made by more artists in more places than at any time in history. Is this true? And if so, what's the reason?
The increase in the world’s population?

Do blogs help correct the geographical bias in print art criticism, i.e., the tendency to think that most of the important stuff happens in New York or Los Angeles, and the difficulty of art outside those places to get national attention?

Perhaps, although I suspect that population density and disposable income have a greater influence.

One index of a city's gravity as an art center is young artists—perhaps recent MFAs—from elsewhere coming to set up shop. Is that happening in Philadelphia and Portland?
Ask someone from Philadelphia or Portland not the Philippines. As to a city’s arts gravitas, young artists are just a part of the mix. I suspect that low rents are more important.

Is there any constructively negative edge to your blogging and, if so, what is it?
Occam’s razor

Let's throw something back into the mix: naked human ambition. Unknown bloggers want to be little bloggers; little bloggers want to be bigger bloggers; and bigger bloggers want to be called, as is Tyler's Modern Art Notes, "the most influential of all the visual-arts blogs" by the Wall Street Journal.
And the question is?

Where will your blog be in three to five years?

On the internet.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Neither Confirm nor Deny

Like a nuclear armed super power elusive graffiti artist Banksy refuses to either confirm or deny his presence in a photo of graffiti artist at work published in the London Times.

The clandestine nature of his work obliviously makes anonymity a prerequisite whether the same can be said about the US warships is a moot point. If Banksy has been outed will it make any real difference? One suspects, nay hopes, he will continue decorating drab concrete walls with his unique sense of humour and irreverence.

Whereas a floating platform of death and destruction in my back yard, mmmmmm no thanks. Although I did read about one of them having a bulls eye painted on its side whilst in a Middle East port.

To see a portfolio of Banksy work click here.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The White Cube

The White Cube - a new era in comedic sequential pictorial narratives taking place in the context of the contemporary art world and/or business.

Check out more of Thomas Marquet’s The White Cube blog here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Poster Girls - Greenbelt

A re-work of a 2006 photograph for inclusion in my new book "I'm for the Birds" upon which I am waiting for the proof copy from the printer. More details when I have eyeballed the sucker.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A portrait of Sorts


Over the past few months I have been working on portraits without a great deal of success, well not anything I would own up too. Although this latest effort doesn't make me want to instantly delete it. It started from a passport mug shot (which are endemic here in the Philippines) of my stepdaughter and after some playing in the digital light room, viola, in all its illustrative glory.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Other Saatchi Showdown

According to, the web traffic measuring site, Saatchi Online has overtaken as the webs most visited art site. Over the past week Saatchi’s ranking was 1989 compared to’s 2366. did manage to annoy a lot of its artists, if the negative chatter on art forums is any indication, with their re-structure a few months ago. Saatchi, on the other side of the pond, quietly went about building an impressive traffic base with its Showdown competition and its recently opened Saleroom. And according to front page they had 56,483,120 hits in the 24 hours preceding the writing of this post.
The Showdown competition is in its second incarnation and attracting healthy interest from the 70 thousand artists registered at the site. The Saleroom Online has been open just over a week and has over 16,000 works of art available for sale commission free for both buyers and sellers. According to London’s Financial Times, annualized art sales of $130m have been estimated.
Also according to the FT, Charles Saatchi has no interest in any kind of commercial participation in artists’ sales. Has the man with the reputation of re-invigorating the British art scene now set his sights on the internet art scene?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

More LA

What's the go here? A couple of days ago Going LA hit the net scape (see post below) with pictures fom the City of Angels. Now over at BLDG BLOG there is a prose ode to the city.

"No matter what you do in L.A., your behavior is appropriate for the city. Los Angeles has no assumed correct mode of use. You can have fake breasts and drive a Ford Mustang – or you can grow a beard, weigh 300 pounds, and read Christian science fiction novels. Either way, you're fine: that's just how it works. You can watch Cops all day or you can be a porn star or you can be a Caltech physicist. You can listen to Carcass – or you can listen to Pat Robertson. Or both."

I take on faith that both know what they are talking about, New York and Boston I have experienced but for LA I have a total of about 3 hours experience split over 2 occasions. And each time I only got a few steps outside of LAX to puff on a ciggy.

Perhaps next time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Desperate Housewives or Desperate Pinoys?

There has been an outpouring of national indignation of the past few days in blog-o-sphere that has even made it into the op-ed pages of metropolitan dailies. A derogatory slur about the competence of Philippine medical training “… before we go any further, can I check those diplomas because I just wanna make sure that they’re not from some med school in the Philippines,” on the US sitcom Desperate Housewives.

The fuss is similar to that of about a year ago when the indigenous fast food outlet, Jollie Bee, received a serve from an American customer who didn’t like the pink dressing on the burgers. For a few weeks the internet ran hot with indignation. Why are Filipino’s so thin skinned in these situations?

When this latest piece of negativity hit the air waves my 23 year old step son asked “Why are they saying that?” He, like almost all the Filipinos I have met, regards America as the land of milk and honey. Prick a Filipino and out gushes the desire for a Green Card, if I could just get to America all my troubles would be over.

Whereas for the average American the Philippines is barely a blip on the radar. Apart from a cheap tourist destination of exotic tropical beaches and available mocha coloured maidens the Philippines is sorta like Mexico, but far enough away not to worry about. Outside of natural disasters and political coups things Filipino are page 10 at best.

For the writers of Desperate Housewives it was pick a 3rd world country, any 3rd world country, the Philippines, the Maldives, India, whatever. But yes, it does hurt when those you have put on a pedestal flip you the bird even if they are a 3rd rate TV sitcom.

Monday, October 08, 2007

And All the Fun of The Fair

On Thursday the latest art fair opens its flaps. The London art Freeze is off and running for its 4 days in its tent in the park. And the spin masters have been working over time to ensure its success.
To wit from the Times “Five years after they founded Frieze, the directors, Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp, have put together a hugely ambitious series of events, performances and talks designed to move Frieze beyond an art fair and turn it into a larger event where art is made and the cultural agenda is set.”
A coloured light set up to make coloured shadows is really cutting edge stuff as is watching a stranger’s toddler’s first steps albeit on a raised dais. Or perhaps a re-enactment of the eleventh minute of the eleventh day of the eleventh month’s minute of silence is where it’s at. Admittedly more than one randomly timed throughout the event with a voice over the PA counting backwards from 60 to ensure you don’t miss it does make it all new, fresh and unthought-of.
Or perhaps it is as the Times says it is the opportunity to rub shoulders with ones betters. “People fly in from Miami and New York, from LA and Chi-cago, from Berlin and Zurich, and now, I see, from Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo. Hotels are packed, restaurants booked. You can’t get a limo for love nor money.” “And it’s why a hardened art-fair hater like me will be at the head of the queue on Thursday, making sure I get in before you.”
One can only hope that amongst the side show hoopla and the Celeb spotting there is some actual art to view for those foolish enough to think that is what it is all about.

Monday, October 01, 2007

10 Minutes LOL and a 95 minute yawn.

I finally got round to seeing this 10 year old flick, thanks to HBO. It is a small screen filler for a dull Sunday afternoon, if I had put my money down for a hard top experience I would have been sorely disappointed.
“My Best Friend’s Wedding” is 10 minutes of a set up and high camp sing-a-long of a very funny rendition of Dionne Warwick’s “I Say a Little Prayer” and 95 minutes of Doris Day/Rock Hudson fluff.
Julia Roberts in the lead and Julia Roberts, is Julia Roberts. Cameron Diaz is predictable but does actually do some acting. Dermot Mulroney must be acting, no one can be that much of a jerk in real life, but ultimately forgettable. It’s Rupert Everett’s 10 minutes as the gay boy friend at the wedding rehearsal and dinner that saves this film from utter oblivion.
And those 10 minutes are good, very bloody good and did I say funny?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Boundless Chase for the Cash

In my July post about online galleries I talked about Boundless Gallery –
“Gallery: Boundless Gallery (91675 Alexa ranking July 8 2007)
Inventory: 33,000 plus as per a category count on July 7 2007
Cost to Artist: 25% commission to company on sales through the gallery
Pitch to artist: no fees, low commission and can purchase front page listing
Pitch to customers: see what it looks like in your home/office before you buy
Real world equivalent: Art Gallery in a Home Décor Centre”
Since then a couple of things have changed. First their Alexa ranking has slipped to 159810 (smaller is better) as at September 29, 2007 and they have headed off in the vanity gallery direction.
They have become a fee based gallery with a range of fees from $36.00 for 6 months plus a 10% commission on sales through to $240.00 for a year with no commission on sales. Pretty reasonable looking fee structures until you do the math. With 2455 artists on their books (yep, I counted them) if their stable went for the low end that’s $175,000 plus a year up front, if the stable went for the top end it’s over half a million. In reality it will be somewhere in the middle, but even $300K a year is a nice hunk of change.
And herein lies the problem, like all vanity galleries the incentive to sell the work on the walls is greatly reduced. The rent and the wages are covered, if the work sells it sells, if it doesn’t …………their pay day is covered.
This is not necessarily a bad thing if the said gallery can provide a boost for your reputation as an artist and/or get eyes you can’t viewing your work. But with a 68,000 points slip in Boundless’ Alexa rating in 2 and a half months these become moot points.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bye Bye Bip

Great French mime artist Marcel Marceau died on Saturday at the age of 84. A master of body language he embodied the theatrical maxim “make ‘em laugh or make ‘em cry” which at his stage performances his audiences did both.

Here Comes the Judge

A Massachusetts (US) judge has ruled that there is no prohibition showing an unfinished work of art simply because it is unfinished as long as visitors to the exhibition are informed that it is unfinished.
The judge, Michael A. Ponsor, effectively said to Swiss artist Christoph Büchel if you are going to play the Prima Donna and spit the dummy there will be a price to pay. That price being that the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art who commissioned Buchel to create “Training Ground for Democracy,” which he walked away from in December last year, can display the unfinished work.
Over the ensuing months, since the separation, there has been a very public “he said/she said” slanging match that would have done a Hollywood divorce proud between Buchel and the Museum. Not surprisingly it was over money as the art work’s budget of $160K ballooned to double that amount. With this decision perhaps there is a chance of some diplomacy between the entrenched parties and “Training Ground for Democracy” will be seen in all its glory.
The New York Times reports the Museum’s director, Joseph C. Thompson, as saying, after the handing down of the decision, “Our mission is to help make new work and we’re very anxious to move forward.” Although it aint over yet as Buchel’s lawyer is reported as saying “We’re exploring our options for appeal.”
As they say in the classics “Watch this Space” as the “Training Ground for Democracy” saga continues its grandstand evolution.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Photographic health advisory No 2

The Rule of Thirds
Prior to my turn of the century epiphany that saw the abandoning of paint and brushes for pixels and a mouse I had never encountered “The Rule of Thirds”. In amongst the pencils and charcoal there resided a camera, but it was primarily an instant drawing device.
After the artistic sea change and the camera became my primary image capturing device, things photographic became my new learning curve. Whether in a magazine, book or internet article devoted to the subject at some time, the rule of thirds will raise its ugly head. This is where a tic tac toe grid of imagined lines is placed upon the picture plane creating 9 squares of equal size. When the main element of the image is placed at one of the 4 points that these lines intersect a strong composition will result.
Wrong, a boring composition will result. Strong composition is a result of the interaction between the balance and tension of all the elements in an image. A secondary aspect of composition is to lead the eye round the image.
The best place I can think of for using The Rule of Thirds is in pricing your work. A third for production, a third for the dealer and a third for the artist, which becomes an interesting calculation when your dealer expects 50% of the asking price.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Just had to respond

I came across this quote by cowboy artist Harley Brown that just did require a response.
“A painting doesn't have to have a profound meaning. It doesn't have to 'say' a word. We fall in love for simpler reasons.”
And whilst I agree with it up to a point, how much more rewarding is the experience when your new found friend does actually have thoughts and opinions they are prepared to share. Works of art like people become more valued when they enrich your life through the sharing of ideas and the experiences that inform them. It is then when they grace your wall they become more than wall paper which through its very nature should be mute.
As my father was so fond of saying, “Marry in haste, repent at dinner time.”

Monday, September 10, 2007

Some Art Blogs Out There

A purely subjective summary of some of the blogs related to art that have found their way into my bookmarks.

Edward Winkleman (art, politics, gossip & tough love)
Published: Daily, Monday through Friday.
I Read: Daily, Tuesday through Saturday
Tackles meaty issues that get the grey matter working, not only from the blog post but from the comments as well. Like the art & religion post that attracted 119 comments that ranged far and wide but then such a topic would. 5/5

: spasmodically
I Read: Spasmodically
Chris Rywalt attends Gallery openings in the Big Apple and posts detailed reports of his adventures in a very readable and opinionated form. BTW he finds photography boring and what I can see via the internet of what is showing there it is understandable. 4/5

Conscientious (A weblog about fine art photography)
Published: Almost daily, sometimes several times a day
I Read: Daily
Joerg Colberg is German and a scientist and takes his blog seriously. Provides a lot of posts, news and links but his choices in photography …….. well, I can understand where Chris Rywalt is coming from. 4/5

Empty Easel
I Read: Spasmodically
Dan (my last name is a secret) writes practical advice for artists, bit Art 101 really and reviews painters both living and dead in a Readers Digest Condensed Book format. 3/5

The Intrepid Art Collector (Adventures in the art market)
Published: 2 or 3 times a week
I Read: every couple of days
Lisa Hunter, author of a book with the same name as her blog, writes wide ranging posts about the art market (duh) and provides gems of information sprinkled throughout. 5/5

Art Market Blog
: every other day
I Read: every couple of days
Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist and in AMB he writes about the art market from an investor’s point of view. 4/5

Art Print Issues
: couple of times a week
I Read: spasmodically
Barney Davey writes about the art print market from a wall décor perspective rather than an art perspective. 3/5

I Read: a couple of times a week but increasing.
Geoff Manaugh writes about art from an architectural point of view with urban design and landscape thrown in for good measure. 4/5

All About Art & Artists
: Spasmodically
I Read: Spasmodically
Dawn Keur is feisty and opinionated and takes on all comers with her tirades about what she considers to be muddle headed in the art world. 3/5

The Expat
: several times a week
I Read: proof read mostly
It’s a bit of a dog’s breakfast of opinion, art, politics, the Philippines or anything else that takes the authors fancy. 10/5 but I’m biased.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Skyline with power Lines X


To quote one of John Cages favourite sayings "I am for the birds, not for the cages people put them in."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Shameless Self Promotion

With my Canberra exhibition opening in just 13 days I am into shameless self promotion mode. And two of my favourite blogs Edward Winkleman and The Intrepid Art Collector this day have given me the opportunity to float my boat. Thanks muchly guys.

Just in case you have missed it, Altered States II opens on 17 September at the ANU’s Photospace Gallery. I've done my thing, One Workshop Printers have done their thing, FedEx has done its thing, the Peter Fitzpatrick will soon do his thing and then gentle reader comes the chance for you to do your thing. Agreed you've gotta be in Down Under's National Capital, but it's a great place to visit in spring time, just ask GW.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Photographic Health Advisory No 1

Captured moments in time.

It is a truism in the photographic world that all photographs are trapping the fleeting prey in your little box. If that is all there is to a photo it is only and will be for all time a snapshot, for one person’s “moment in time” is another’s yawn.

Whilst what is trapped in the box is 1/500th of a second of reality what the photographer does in the darkroom or in 21st Century parlance the Lightroom that makes the photograph. It is the photographer’s skill in manipulating form and content outside the box which makes for the memorable photograph.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Power Lines Rule di ba.


It is interesting where a photography series may lead one. From an inconvenience to the subject matter. Here in Manila power lines are an unavoidable fact of life, it was a case of if you can't beat 'em join 'em. And what is an eye sore can become a thing of beauty.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Manila Skyline with Power lines V

After the last few weeks of working on the admin stuff of getting the ANU exhibition into shape it is great to get back into the studio and do some real work.

I had, over the past weeks of going to the printers, driven past this scene and on Friday had enough time to stop and take some shots. Manila is awash with power lines, it is the first thing you notice damn near, and I just love the way they break up the skyline. There is something akin to a jazz riff in their tangle.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Busy Busy Month

As you can see posts here this month have been a bit on the sparse side. It has been a busy month in other areas and The Expat drew the short straw.

I have finally got my myspace page looking like something worth visiting. You can see it here and if you feel inclined to become a friend it’s “Bateman” in the Last Name box.

The selection of images and their printing for the Canberra exhibition has been completed. In fact they were delivered into care of FedEx yesterday. I now wait with baited breath for news of their safe arrival. The invitations have been designed, the catalogue details written along with press release.

I have also been researching, writing and sourcing images for a couple of articles for the Expat Travel & Lifestyle Philippines magazine. The article about the Philippine’s Easter Shrines is done and in the editor’s hands. The story about photography scene here has 300 words on paper, another 300 in my head and 300 that need to be found before the first week in September deadline.

Once that is done The Expat will get some love and attention.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Aussie Snake Oil

It seems ex Queensland school teacher Ken Ham has a hit on his hands with his Genesis Creation Museum. This is the place where Adam and Eve frolic with vegetarian Tyrannosaurus rex, yeah right.

Be that as it may, in its first four months of operation 150,000 people have flocked to this $27m medicine show in northern Kentucky.

Now, what is the ninth commandment?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

America Contemplates a Draft

The wars being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are un-winnable, well for the forces of the invaders primarily because their isn’t a stream of immigrants chomping at the bit to pick up the spoils of victory.

Unlike Australia, USA and Canada were the genocide of the native inhabitants allowed peoples from some other place to came and take root nobody is queuing up to make a new home in these promised lands.

Eventually the invaders will tire of their sport, as did the British and Russians in Afghanistan and the Americans in Vietnam, fold up their tents and head for home.

A draft will only speed up this process which will be bloody good news for the Iraqis and Afghanis.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Evil we can do.

"The worse thing that happens to guards in a prison is they get bored. And the guards, especially on the night shift -- and this is true, both at Stanford (and we can talk later about Abu Ghraib), the worst abuses happen in both on the night shift."

An interesting interview between ABC's Natasha Mitchell and Stanford University's Professor Emeritus Philip Zimbardo, the man behind one of history's most notorious psychological experiments.

To read the transcript of the interview go here.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


The Southern Philippines Island of Mindanao looks like it is going to erupt into a war zone (Bugger).

The Australian Government is hosing down as hard as it can a you tube video that showed a soldier dressed as a KKK member whilst on a piss up, 3 years ago no less (Duh)

The greatest military machine in the history of the world is being given a bloody nose by a bunch of people who take exception to their presence (Duh x 2)

But as a God fearing, peace loving kinda guy there really isn't much that can beat a good fireworks display.

Now is there?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Beyond Pretty

A pretty photography is one that superficially appeals but leaves you wanting more. A photograph devoid of intellectual capacity, asks no questions, has no point of view, is merely a record albeit one that is often well composed with harmonious colour arrangement.

It is a pretty photograph but it aint art.
Pretty is a one trick pony.

The photographer who gets up at 3am to get the sun rise shot of a particular scene is out to make a pretty picture of what most people see at midday. No doubt it will get the oo’s and ah’s at the exhibition but it is just a trick of the light. The art of the scene lies in the way it interacts with it viewers, it’s what the photographer feels and knows and how they use that knowledge to create a conversation with the viewer through their image. For any meaningful conversation to take place the language employed must be understood by both. And although I may be in impressed by the wonderful sun rise the place I know is seen in the harsh noon light. I am unable to relate, I must take the photographer at their word which makes the conversation decidedly one sided.

Great photography like great painting or great poetry or great music is not about images or words or sounds, it is about ideas and feelings and creating a conversation with the viewer about those ideas and feelings. The photograph taken in the harsh midday light that can talk about the soft light of dawn is well on the way to being beyond pretty, it is in the realms of art.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Orangutan Holds First Solo Exhibition in Germany

As the 201st post on The Expat this story just kinda sums it all up, except that my best beloved is still alive and kicking.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Skyline with Cranes


This is the latest addition to my Skyline series. The photograph was taken about a year ago and re-discovered whilst going through the archives and worked up into this. I always knew there was a good reason not to junk photos too quickly, you just never know when they will reveal their secrets.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Fractured Adgae

Came across this bon mott by Caroline Arnold's son over at Common Dreams Dot Org, my daily fix of liberal conservative bashing and it is so good I just had to share.

If you secure a piece of toast with the buttered side against a cat’s belly and drop the cat from some height it will spin indefinitely in midair and never land. Because cats must always land on their feet and toast always lands with the buttered side down.

Trust it brings a smile to your day.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Parallel Visions Exhibition

Had the good fortune to attend the opening of Parallel Visions at the OW Gallery last night. An exhibition of some stunning photographs by Manny Librodo and interesting water colours by his brother Boboy Librodo.

Manny is somewhat of a star on the Philippine photography scene with the Parallel Visions exhibition following hot on the heels of his Hues of Life exhibition at the Crucible Gallery at Mega Mall which closed 6 days ago. His Hues of Life exhibition was the first time I had seen a body of Manny’s work in the flesh, so to speak. It was a good exhibition of some very solid and well produced photographs but did leave me wondering what all the fuss was about.

Well, last night I found out, a different body of work that truly showed off his skill as a figurative photographer. His photographs of The Buddhist Monks, A Man on a Boat with Oar and the Woman in Red Kimono with Umbrella where the stand out pieces for me, with the Woman in a Red Kimono being the show stopper.

The Woman in a Red Kimono is a powerful work that invokes a series of questions not only about being an Asian woman but every woman with the form of the work underpinning its content. A Man on a Boat with Oar addresses the same issues but from a male perspective but a less harmonious interaction between form and content render it less effective. Then there is the dark and brooding photograph of the Buddhist Monks with its golden line depicting a partial outline of one monk which alludes to enlightenment very effectively.

Manny’s brother Boboy has a series of 7 water colours completed in the past couple of months hanging in the second exhibition space at the OW gallery. Water colour is an unforgiving medium that requires deftness of technique to be successful. I found Boboy’s approach to be tentative and explorative. That being said the abstract elements of his work work well with Still Life in Red in which form and content compliment each other to produce a well resolved piece.

If you’re in Manila do take the opportunity to see Parallel Visions at the OW Gallery, cnr of Sabio St and Don Chino Roces Ave, Makati City, it is well worth the effort.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The camera doesn’t lie?

Except when digital imaging software, like Photoshop, came into play, Right? Wrong and Joerg Colberg of Conscientious blog fame shows how quite nicely in his post “The Red Herring: Photoshop”.
The inventiveness of the human animal to perpetrate porky pies swirls around us on a daily basis and has done so since time began. As the 20th Century master, Pablo Picasso remarked “We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth, at least the truth that is given to us to understand.”

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Online Galleries - some thoughts

Selling art on line is big business and growing daily. For those artists whom commercial gallery’s never call back and institutional galleries can’t spell their name even when it is Smith, on line galleries are an alternative route to market and recognition. And like their real world counterparts they come in all shapes and sizes.

Below are my thoughts about some of the ones that have come to my notice whilst tripping round the net. They are ranked according to their Alexa traffic ranking which is shown in the brackets. I have estimated how much competition there is for your art to be seen (Inventory) and how much it costs to play. I then went through each site with my artist hat on and then again with my buyer’s hat firmly affixed to get a feel of how they are trying to sell their wares to each group. Then I summed it all up by comparing them to a real world equivalent. The last 3 categories are very subjective, just how I see it, feel free to differ.

Gallery: (2141)
Inventory: 300,000 plus artworks or so they say
Cost to Artist: 90% of sale goes to the company (they do the printing, framing and set the prices) plus set up fees for fine art printing
Pitch to artist: We’re the biggest
Pitch to customers: We’re the biggest
Real world equivalent: Big retail poster shop/art market

Gallery: Imagekind (27600)
Inventory: 189,000 artworks according to google search (includes commercial art posters)
Cost to Artist: The cost of the printing and framing the work (artist sets own mark up) plus $95 pa if you want a major gallery presence.
Pitch to artist: The quality of the prints
Pitch to customers: Our artists buy from us
Real world equivalent: Main Street Photo lab with a strong inventory of commercial posters

Gallery: (42631)
Inventory: 222,000 plus artworks as per a category count on July 7 2007
Cost to Artist: $5.00 per month plus 10% commission if company credit facilities used
Pitch to artist: We have a gallery space for you
Pitch to customers: ebay without the auctions
Real world equivalent: Local Weekend Arts Market

Gallery: Absolute Arts (46274)
Inventory: 145,000 plus artworks as per a category count on July 7 2007
Cost to Artist: If you want to be seen it will cost you $100 pa plus a one off jury fee of $25 and 20% commission to the company for each sale.
Pitch to artist: Well established with a World Wide Arts Resources tie up
Pitch to customers: We sort it all out for you
Real world equivalent: Regional gallery with a bargain basement

Gallery: PicassoMio (74701)
Inventory: Held at around 40,000 artworks
Cost to Artist: 33% commission to company for sales made by the gallery
Pitch to artist: Is your work good enough to get the nod from the jury?
Pitch to customers: Selected primary market fine art along with secondary market artworks available
Real world equivalent: Upmarket Commercial Gallery

Gallery: Red Bubble (83091)
Inventory: 42,000 plus (includes T-shirts & cards)
Cost to Artist: The cost of the printing and framing the work (artist sets own mark up)
Pitch to artist: Framing & printing made easy
Pitch to customers: All marketing seems to be pitched to contributors
Real world equivalent: Main Street framing shop with T’s and cards on the side

Gallery: Boundless Gallery (91675)
Inventory: 33,000 plus as per a category count on July 7 2007
Cost to Artist: 25% commission to company on sales through the gallery
Pitch to artist: no fees, low commission and can purchase front page listing
Pitch to customers: see what it looks like in your home/office before you buy
Real world equivalent: Art Gallery in a Home Décor Centre

Gallery: EBSQ (112948)
Inventory: 210,000 plus artworks as per a category count on July 7 2007
Cost to Artist: $78.00 pa for gallery space with links to sales outlets
Pitch to artist: we understand and care
Pitch to customers: discover a diamond in the rough
Real world equivalent: Artists co-op Gallery

Now choose your poison. But before you sign on the dotted line do check your choice or choices out for yourself, don’t just take my word for it.


The dome of a mosque rises above the Metro Manila skyline.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Nothing succeeds like……..

Artists featured in the guest galleries have been making some waves of late.

Mark Velasquez the talented creator of “as dreams go by” has had a photo essay published in the latest edition of JPG Magazine.” Pretty is Boring” aka “The Kind You Don't Take Home To Mama” is about the joys of photographing amateur models rather than the plastic pros.

The very courageous and talented Nora Ness has published a book of her photographs entitled “Mirror Mirror”. MMM wonder where she got that title from?

And Steve Axford , the “Magic of Mushrooms” guy reports that he recently sold 4 of his fungi pics for a thousand bucks of the US kind, which when converted into his Aussie currency is a nice bit of change.

If you haven’t visited the guest galleries click on the link and see some amazing work. If you have a body of work that is out of the box, hey send us a link to where we can see it.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Skyline with Yellow Sky


Another from the Skyline series which was taken whilst riding the Pasig River Ferry.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Party Time


I finally got my sorry derriere into gear and abandoned my hermit like existence and ventured out into social scene of the Philippine photography community. I’ve been here 2 years now and thought it was about time to network with real people.

The occasion was the second anniversary of Pinoy Photography, a pretty vibrant photo club whose online presence can be seen here. Held at the Architectural Center & Club Inc, it was a 500php a head affair which included a sit down meal, inspirational talks by a couple of Filipino photographic luminaries, a small photo competition and a raffle that had as many prizes as attendees.

My stainless steel travel mug will be a cherished possession, I actually won something in a raffle, shame about the Canon printer and the Rooscapili prints. My luck in raffles and lotteries is up there with my success in photo competitions.

The proceedings opened with a prayer as are all occasions worth mentioning here in the Pearl and was followed by a welcoming speech by the club president Raffy Yllana. The MC for the evening was vice president Deo Patalinghog of Memento Creative Image fame whose brother Russell befriended the lone kano at the event. (Thanks mate, muchly appreciated)

Veteran advertising photographer John Chua was first to impart his words of wisdom to the assembled throng along with a slide show of his work, his impassioned plea, at the end of his talk to save Manila Zoo is timely to say the least. I had visited it a few weeks ago and although small its loss to the developers wrecking ball would be a loss for all.

Parc Cruz and Borj Meneses followed with a double soft shoe act and slide presentation on effective digital enhancement for photographers. ‘Twas a shame the slides were arse about, ah the best laid plans…………The last speaker was Manny Librodo whose basic message was keeping your pics in a shoe box under your bed is not good for you or your photos. A sentiment I agree with 110%. BTW Manny’s latest exhibition Hues of Life opens next Tuesday at The Crucible Gallery at the SM Mega Mall.

Interspersed between the talks was the drawing of raffle winners which also continued during the most important event of the evening, dinner. And a fine sample of Filipino dishes were presented and enjoyed, especially by your humble scribe. I also had the opportunity to sample the famed red bubbly of the Philippines, Novellino. It wasn’t as bad as the name suggests, a bit like red sprite with alcohol and most fortunately without the lolly water's cloying sweetness.

The evening was rounded out with a model shoot with 5 models that did their best to accommodate the requests of the gaggle of photographers who surrounded them. As my first sojourn into the Philippine photography scene, it was less traumatic than anticipated with a friendly welcome from all with whom I came in contact. Will I be back for more? Well, the exhibition opening on Tuesday sounds like it could be fun not to mention the free booze.