Silverlens Gallery is known to be one of the leading contemporary art galleries in the country. Murphy Report got a chance to talk to Isa Lorenzo, an art gallerist and one of its founders.
How do you choose your artists?
We base our programming on the artists we represent. The first thing we look for is that the artist has a deep understanding of their own practice, that they’re actually in conversation with a bigger art world, not just their period or just in the Philippines. It’s a bigger picture approach. They have to be technically good, the work needs to be properly finished. They need to be disciplined, they need to be ambitious. They need to have the same interest in the contemporary art dialogue as Silverlens does.
Having met so many artists, can you tell who will become great?
Some artists are serious, most are not. It’s not about being great. You don’t come across greatness. What’s important is the work is good. If the work is good, it will eventually find a home, or a way to show itself continuously.
Can you define the Philippine art scene?
Just like our singers, we are really great cover artists. Filipinos are great copiers. Most of the time it’s not a good thing because people don’t want that. Why are you going to make a painting, like a Vermeer when there already is a Vermeer? What we look for and what we’re constantly trying to push are our unique voices, not necessarily new, but unique, unique to themselves. They’re not trying to copy anybody. They are who they are. That’s how we have reached working relationships with many of our artists, like Maria Taniguchi, Gabriel Barredo, Patricia Eustaquio, the like. They are all individuals who are very much their own, you can throw them anywhere in the world and they will be fine.
How do you stay up to date when it comes to art?
We are constantly looking at art. Even in our downtime, on vacation, that’s all we do. We have a very wide network within the region, and growing around the world. We see and participate in a lot of art fairs. It’s a constant education and curiosity about what’s going on, not just in the Philippines, but outside as well.
You have galleries in Hong Kong and Singapore, can you tell us more about them?
It’s just one Silverlens. We do different shows in different parts of the world. So at any given time, we have several shows going on. It’s either we are mounting the shows, or we have partners showing our artists, either a museum partner or a gallery partner.
“Silverlens has paved the way art is seen and experienced. We want to be known as a pioneering gallery that makes opportunities happen for our artists, and whenever we start working with an artist we tell them, with everything that they do, it has to add value to the bigger picture.”
Who are your usual patrons?
We have a very strong core of local clients, and they have become friends over the years. The Filipino reception has been good, it’s growing. But we are more excited about the global art world discovering the Philippines, and that’s what’s happening right now.
What is art for you?
Art is everything from the way you make your eggs in the morning, the way you speak. These artists, their creativity is visual, it’s tangible. Art is everywhere.
What legacy do you want Silverlens to be remembered for?
Silverlens has paved the way art is seen and experienced. We want to be known as a pioneering gallery that makes opportunities happen for our artists, and whenever we start working with an artist we tell them, with everything that they do, it has to add value to the bigger picture. We encourage them to think of themselves as artists whose work needs to be seen. Every show has to give birth to bigger and better opportunities.
What are your future plans?
We are moving to a bigger space in the latter part of the year that is better planned for our exhibits.
Being in the Philippines is a challenge. We have issues with shipping outside and bringing pieces back in. Sometimes we work with artists who are not yet ready. They don’t understand the magnitude of what a show means and that they have to invest time and energy.
For more information about Silverlens and their upcoming exhibits, please visit their website.
Interview & Text- Dane Raymundo
Photography – M Espeña