12/21/2016

Art from the back to the fore

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Hidden away on the second floor of an iconic building in a derelict state lies a bright gem. In between the landmark Booksale, throngs of ukay-ukay shops, and local neighborhood cellphone stalls is Underground Gallery, an urban escape of fresh art from the dusty city that surrounds it.

Aboveground: Underground gallery is an advocate of young, burgeoning artists in Manila.

The gallery sits in one of the far corners of Makati Cinema Square, a once-glorious location now populated with second-hand things. It’s the last place you’d think a gallery would be. It’s relatively new, having only been founded in January of 2015, and this reflects in the talent that it showcases. Most of the artists that have exhibited in the space are young artists looking to break into the art scene.

But that doesn’t mean that these are artists who know nothing: the talent pool includes artists such as Nice Buenaventura, who organized Babel, a show that asked artists to play with wooden blocks; and Luis Martinez, who showcased a series of photographs of musicians and singers during their concerts. Another notable exhibition was one from Felix Bacolor, who “somewhat crucified himself” on the gallery’s walls with duct tape for everyone to ogle at.

But more than that, Underground is enthusiastic about launching careers of protégés by hosting their first exhibitions, with the likes of James Esguerra and Potti Lesaguis having their solo shows debut at the site.

Best of threads: Nicole Tee’s “Swatch” brought fabrics back to their original form.

Underground’s latest showcase echoes this advocacy. In So let’s sink another drink ‘cause it’ll give me time to think, which opened last December 10 and runs until January 1, 2017, young artists are brought to the spotlight together with more established artists. It’s a long list that includes collage artist Jel Suarez, taking cut-and-paste to a whole new level; Gab Ferrer, who showed her range with a pair of assemblages and an illustration; and Juan Alcazaren, who brought a pair of mirrors etched and lit up with the words “Yaya”, “Maid”, “Cook”, and “Driver”, aptly titled “Self-Effacing Mirror”.

So let’s sink another drink also includes Raena Abella, Jan Balquin, Gale Encarnacion, Beejay Esber, Nilo Ilarde, Pete Jimenez, Romeo Lee, Potti Lesaguis, Jacob Lindo, Jem Magbanua, Gene Paul Martin, Poch Naval, Lubin Nepomuceno, Jonathan Olazo, Veronica Pee, Michelle Perez, Juni Salvador, Jiddu San Jose, Jojo Serrano, Nicole Tee, Van Tuico, Oca Villamiel, Cris Villanueva, Miles Villanueva, Alvin Villaruel, Atsuko Magata, and Raj Zulueta. The group show is curated by Nilo Ilarde.


Underground Gallery is located at the second floor of Makati Cinema Square, Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City. They are open Mondays to Saturdays from 11 AM to 7 PM. Find them online at www.underground.gallery and on Instagram at @underground.gallery.

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