Catch our exclusive interview with top art connoisseur, Richie Lerma

For the past decade, art has been making an amazing renaissance in the Philippines with more and more people building their own collections here and abroad. Like any trend, we need a guide to navigate our way around what’s hot and what’s not. So we approached one of the country’s top curators and art connoisseurs, Richie Lerma to give us a definitive guide on the art scene:

PHILIPPINE TATLER: What are the key factors to consider when deciding to go to an art show or gallery?

RICHIE LERMA: The reputation of the gallery and the artist/s showing are the most important factors to consider. What is the background of the gallery owner/director - his level of knowledge of art, experience in the trade, network of contacts. Is the gallery professional and ethical in its dealings? As for the artist, again what is his or her educational background. Has the artist received any prizes from respected institutions or prize-giving bodies, or been given grants to hone his or her craft both locally and internationally. What is the profile of the people who collect the artist's work? 


PT: In curating pieces for a show or gallery, what is the thought process behind creating the theme?

RL: There are two schools: one is to start with the objects from where the curator finds a common thread ie 'the theme.' The other is to set out with an idea, hypothesis, scholarly assumption and illustrate this through pieces that are selected for an exhibition.


PT: What are your thoughts on the art trade industry in the Philippines?

RL: It is certainly growing; but with that there is rampant unethical behaviour that comes from a lack of education and impaired value systems that need to be stamped out.


PT: Who are some of the international artists you hope would do a show or be showcased in the Philippines? 

RL: Western and Eastern masters from ancients times to the present? The list can go on and on! Some of my favorites: from the Renaissance, Piero della Francesca; from the Italian baroque, Caravaggio. The French Impressionists would certainly make for a blockbuster show! Modern and contemporary: Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter, Bill Viola...again so many to choose from!


PT: Which art gallery/galleries in the Philippines would you say is/are the benchmark as to the quality of the collections featured?

RL: Can I be biased? (laughs)


PT: What are the key trends that you foresee in the Philippine art market?

RL: Growing connoisseurship and demand for quality, a more price sensitive market, a revived interest in the masters and a tightening criterion for excellence and lasting value when it comes to local contemporary art. 

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