Cover At the "Little Big Art Show", the inaugural exhibition of Vintana's physical space at the Astbury, Poblacion, Makati (Photo: Vintana.ph)

As expected, the local art scene came back with a vengeance. Here are some of the newly-opened galleries that are worth visiting

Many physical galleries have either limited their foot traffic or integrated with the online space at the height of public health crises in the last couple of years. A few had to close, like Pineapple Lab, yet there were more who braved the uncharted metaverse medium like Narra Gallery and other artist spaces leading the rising crypto art community.

Surprisingly, there are many who dared enter the Philippine art scene in this uncertain time and succeeded in adding vibrancy to the community. Aside from newly established galleries, there are also galleries that have set up their branches, widening their reach among art enthusiasts, art lovers, and collectors.

Here are some must-visit galleries and artist spaces that are recently making waves on our radar:

1. Thombayan Art Space

Do not be fooled by how it looks from the outside, as it is at the heart of the bohemian barangay of Bangkal, Makati's go-to hub for antiques, intricate sculptures, and thrift shops. Thombayan Art Space is the brainchild of distinguished performance-based painter and teacher Thomas Daquioag. This artist-run space opened in the summer of 2022, aiming to utilise contemporary art in retelling the stories of the Filipinos, who, in his words, are "a hapless people with a rich colonial past, mired by current political uncertainty".

For its inaugural exhibition, the renowned social realist artist tapped one of the prominent figures in the Philippine art scene Renato Habulan to curate the works of their fellow artist-friends such as Jose Tence Ruiz, Alfredo Aquilizan, Mark Justiniani, Elmer Borlongan, Manny Garibay, Ferdie Montemayor, Jim Orencio, Plet Bolipata, Pandy Aviado, and Wire Tuazon, who all happen to be some of the country's leading names in the art scene.

Visit Thombayan Art Space and see the works also of emerging and engaging Filipino contemporary artists.

1154-A Rodriguez Street, Bangkal, Makati City

Read also: Artist in Focus: 'It's Plet's Palette'

2. Vintana

When many people thought that the art scene was left on the sidelines when the pandemic struck the nation, three high school friends decided to put up a website that educates Filipinos about art history, the must-know modern and contemporary artists today, and the goings-on in the local and international art scenes. Angela Gaddi, Ram Bautista, and Robert Flores "aim to close the gap between the art, the artist, and the public", and so aside from publishing art-related content online, they have also worked with artists to mount online exhibitions.

Befittingly, their largest online exhibition, "The Little Big Art Show" became the inaugural exhibition of Vintana's physical space in Poblacion, Barangay Bel-Air, Makati. The exhibition's second iteration features esteemed artist Manuel Ocampo and other important artists today like Dex Fernandez, Kiko Escora, Lourd De Veyra, Aba Lluch Dalena, Lena Cobangbang, Argie Bandoy, and more.

When galleries strived to move online amid the pandemic, Vintana braved the "real world" by opening its space in the hopes of reaching more art enthusiasts, collectors, and artists.

Watch this space to know more about Vintana and its founders

The Astbury, 2 Orion, Bel-Air, Makati City

3. 8Rooms Creative Space

We know power couple Raul and Joanna Francisco as two of the most respected names in the art galleries sector today, being co-founders of Provenance Art Gallery. But the changing landscape of art lovers today propelled them to open a new art hub in Makati.

More experiential in approach, 8Rooms Creative Space literally has eight rooms with varying looks and artists, perfect for collectors to locate their specific preferences easily. The look of each room is distinctive from the other: the Black and White Room, the Orange Room, the Teal Room, the Grey Room, and the Renaissance Room, among others.

Each room gets to have a curator, and for its inaugural exhibition last May 2022, it invited lifestyle consultant Tania Fricke Lichauco, interior designer Ram Lopez-Vito Bucoy, sought-after medical doctor and artist-at-heart Dr Alex Ayco, and heritage fan-maker Monchet Diokno Olives, as curators and featured the works of 75 artists. Definitely, when one enters 8Rooms, it's like walking into a miniature version of an art fair!

2nd Floor, South Park Plaza, Paseo de Magallanes Commercial Centre, Makati City

Read also: On the Parallels of Art and Whisky: Raul Francisco of Provenance Art Gallery Speaks Out

4. Imahica Art Gallery

Featuring emerging and established artists in the Philippines, Imahica Art Gallery opened last 2021 at the heart of Mandaluyong City. Aside from mounting well-thought exhibitions and bridging the gap between artists and enthusiasts, it also aims to produce off-site projects, residencies, and educational opportunities. In the community, it is nourishing, it hosts lectures, multilingual guided tours, youth programs, and art enthusiast workshops as its key philosophy is advocating art knowledge, understanding, and healthy discussions about today's art scene.

2A Lee Gardens, Lee Street, Wack-Wack, Mandaluyong City

Read also: Imahica Art Gallery's 'La Moderna Filipina' Exhibit Celebrate Generations of Women in Arts

5. Art Elaan

Taking pride as the biggest art gallery in the relatively new Ayala Malls Manila Bay, Art Elaan is "a Philippine contemporary art gallery promoting the talent and genius of Filipino artists by harnessing and investing in curatorial intelligence, exhibition management, and media publicity". It has three spaces, namely Gallery Red, Gallery White, and Gallery Blue, that feature thematic group exhibitions and solo shows. Aside from making waves as a commercial gallery, it has also participated in important art festivals since its inception this 2022 such as Art Fair Philippines and the Manila'Bang Show-Artfest International.

2nd Floor, Filipino Village, Ayala Malls Manila Bay, Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard corner Aseana Avenue, Parañaque City

6. Gravity Art Space

Founded in 2021 by artist Indy Paredes, Gravity Art Space is a new hub of "a dynamic community of artists, art workers, and art supporters". Its name is inspired by the gallery's objective of giving "weight" to the artistic process and its collaborative relationships between the space, artists, curators, and the public.

"Just like the force of gravity, while these aspects of exhibition-making and programming are not always remarked, they are always part of its consideration, and what makes the space's existence possible and its programs worthwhile," art critic and curator Carlos Quijon Jnr wrote in the profile of the gallery.

Ongoing until August 5 is one of its featured exhibitions for the month is "The Thousand-Yard Stare", which is "for and of Bree Jonson", as stated in its exhibition notes, showcasing works by the late artist's friends and family, as well as selected pieces from the Bree Jonson archive.

Mother Ignacia Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City

Read also: In Conversation with Mark Nicdao on His Raw Rumination of Reality

7. Grounded Holistic Arts and Culture Studio

Opened last March 2022, the physical space of the multi-media platform Grounded at Karrera, Alabang is a dynamic studio that usually hosts art exhibitions, film nights, and many more. Aside from being a credible wellness lifestyle brand that produces inspiring content as podcasts through Grounded Radio and published stories via Grounded Journal, it also has a gallery that features the works of its Grounded Artist Network members. It champions female artists, entrepreneurs, influencers, and inspirational advocates to cultivate a community that focuses on creating a sensible, well-balanced life with a deeper sense of purpose. It was founded by Marika Manglapus-Ledesma, Bianca Yuzon-Henares, and Carina Alejandrino-Arenas as online art and wellness platform in 2018, from an idea they came up with together back in 2013 while they were pursuing a degree in arts management.

Karrera Showroom, 360 Corporate Woods Avenue, Alabang, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila

Read also: Grounded Artist Network's Online Exhibit Presents Works of Emerging Filipino Artists

8. Art Lounge Manila at Molito, Alabang

First started as "an upscale art venue to host prolific talents from the local and international visual arts community" in Podium Mall, Ortigas Centre, Art Lounge Manila also recently opened its space at Molito Lifestyle Centre in Alabang last June 2022. Art Lounge Manila is part of the Galerie Francesca Group, a reputable network of galleries created at the heart of Alabang 17 years ago.

In case you missed it: Art Lounge Manila's Podium Mall branch hosted the reprise of The Empty Chair Project, a groundbreaking fundraising exhibition by the Visual Arts Helping Hands Foundation. 58 in-demand contemporary artists today participated in this year's edition which runs until July 30, 2022. The project features statement pieces of transformed chairs, in support of mental health, all up for auction for the benefit of artists and their families heavily affected by the lockdowns and the pandemic. It also showcases the works of revered artists Riel Hilario and Leo Abaya, whom we have lost from the virus.

Molito Lifestyle Centre, Madrigal Avenue corner Commerce Avenue, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

Read also: Art Loune Manila Opens in Molito, Alabang with Septième Rebelle and Fundacion Sansó

9. Galerie Joaquin

One of the most enduring galleries in Metro Manila, promoting modern and contemporary artists since 2002, has opened two new branches over the course of the pandemic. Galerie Joaquin's gallery spaces at One Bonifacio High Street Mall in Taguig and at Power Plant Mall in Makati opened in November 2021. For years, the gallery has been true to its mission of providing quality artworks to its clientele ranging from pieces made by established and top-notch masters, like Edwin Wilwayco, who opened the Taguig branch, and some of the most exciting contemporary visual artists, like Michael Cacnio whose works inaugurated the Makati branch.

R3 Level, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell Centre, Makati City; Unit 19 & 20, Upper Ground Floor, 28th Street corner 5th Avenue, One Bonifacio High Street by Ayala Malls, Taguig City


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