Arts & CultureEventsPress Release

Silverlens celebrates 20th anniversary, announces first quarter exhibitions and art fairs

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Silverlens kicks off its 20th year with exhibitions and presentations at several international art fairs. For two decades, Silverlens has continued to champion its artists, placing them within the broader framework of the global contemporary art dialogue.

Silverlens will present solo exhibitions by Ryan Villamael, Tessy Pettyjohn, and Pacita Abad in its Manila gallery; solo exhibitions by Wawi Navarroza and Nicole Coson in its New York outpost, and; art fair presentations at SEA Focus (Singapore), Art Fair Philippines (Manila), Frieze Los Angeles (Los Angeles), and Art Basel Hong Kong (Hong Kong).


Return, My Gracious Hour by Ryan Villamael
Silverlens Manila
January 09 to February 03


Silverlens is delighted to open 2024 with the solo exhibition Return, My Gracious Hour by Ryan Villamael. Motivated by Jose Rizal’s poem Memories of My Town, this exhibition surveils, appropriates, and reconstitutes American-occupation archival materials, presenting them into stupendous flora: the paper cutouts of which Villamael is the foremost practitioner. Whether encased in vitrines or flourishing in the open, the works consider history not as an end, but a means — a medium — through which parallelisms between the past and the post-colonial present may be drawn.

Return, My Gracious Hour, while providing fresh incarnations of previously pursued ideas, is less about nostalgia than it is about the fixity of certain longings and desires: the fevered wish to gain insight into the convolutions of the present, the irresistible summons of a hometown, and the recognition of the clash and connection between the human impulse and the prerogatives of nature.

A Light in Everything by Tessy Pettyjohn
Silverlens Manila
January 09 to February 03

Silverlens is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Tessy Pettyjohn. In her art and beyond, Tessy is looking for tranquility. With A Light in Everything, her second solo exhibition at Silverlens, Tessyunveils a new series of sculptural clay works intending to illuminate forms seen only during the act of meditation, a practice that has long informed her art-making process, from concept to creation.

Intricately fashioned through the rhythmic and repetitive movements of her fingers, iterative gestures gather and merge as cohesive patterns that blossom into natural forms. The effect of these configurations suggests the cups, bulbs, and fronds so often found in nature; practical structures for collecting water and catching light. Without a direct lineage to any known species in nature, these pieces become singular and self-evident manifestations of the unnamed, quiet light that can be found all around, if you look for it.

The Other Shore by Wawi Navarroza
Silverlens New York
January 11 to March 02

Silverlens New York is pleased to kick off 2024 with a solo exhibition by Filipina artist Wawi Navarroza. Known for her large-format photographic tableaus and self-portraits, the exhibition will mark the artist’s first solo show in the United States. Born and raised in Manila and educated in the West, Wawi draws upon her lived experience as a female artist, Filipina, Southeast Asian, and transnational to create kaleidoscopic in-studio, in-camera, collages using a variety of materials, mise en scène, and herself. 

Wawi’s show at Silverlens New York chronicles her work spanning from 2019 to 2023, featuring a series of self-portraits that examine the intimate link between women, reproduction, and the enduring essence of art, showcasing the crests and troughs of the female experience. The body of work illuminates the artist’s metamorphosis from monochromatic austerity to vibrant, tropical hues, which began after a pivotal Asian Cultural Council fellowship at the International Center of Photography in New York. Encompassing self-portraits alongside new works culled from the artist’s years of movement between Manila, Madrid, and Istanbul, the exhibition pays homage to cycles, change, and lineage. In this show, Wawi invites viewers to embrace the hidden wealth of material history and image-making to unlearn societal constructs and celebrate the DNA of identity forged through storytelling. 

Vanishing by Gregory Halili
Silverlens New York
January 11 to March 02

In the New York viewing room, Silverlens will present a collection of miniature paintings on capiz shells by Gregory Halili. 

Miniatures are a type of secular art with a long-standing history in the Middle East as an important element of decoration often used in medieval manuscripts. In the Philippines, the popularity of capiz shells can be traced back to the first dictionary of the Tagalog language, authored in 1860. Within it, the entry for capiz reads la ventana or window as the shells are cut and processed until the light can filter through. In this series of miniature oil paintings, Gregory pushes the material to its most fragile state, almost to the point of breaking. These capiz shells are thinned down until they are glass-like, which allows for the paintings of the butterflies and moths on the reverse to be seen on the other side. “What at first may look like simple, beautiful works of butterflies and moths is a commentary on the complex, fragile state of the environment and the unpredictable future,” said Gregory.

Pacita Abad: Love is Like a Heatwave
Silverlens Manila
February 13 to March 16

Silverlens is thrilled to present a major solo exhibition by Pacita Abad.  Pacita Abad: Love is Like a Heatwave celebrates the 20th anniversary of the exhibition Circles in My Mind, Pacita’s landmark exhibition at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The exuberant exhibition would serve as the final presentation of the artist’s work, before her passing in 2004.

The works in the exhibition are part of a series of works on paper produced during her residency at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI) in 2002, where she explored her longstanding interest in color and material culture, through the boundless possibilities of papermaking, printmaking, and painting.

Shown alongside these works on paper are delicate oil paintings of tropical flowers in hand-carved Balinese frames, that Pacita produced in the ’90s.

Nicole Coson
Silverlens New York
March 07 to April 20

Silverlens New York will present new works by Nicole Coson, marking the artist’s first solo exhibition in the United States. Born in Manila and based in London, Nicole works in printmaking, video, and sculpture to create pieces that explore the process of image-making as it pertains to personal memory, history, and material culture. 

For her debut, Nicole will showcase a new series of work that investigates the symbolic qualities of the container as a pragmatic metaphor for the circulation of people, capital, and consumer goods in a world intricately connected through the movement of food. Visitors can expect to encounter echo-like traces of these modular structures, which are sourced from industry-grade vendors in London’s diverse East End and meticulously assembled and arranged in the artist’s studio. Through a unique and labor-intensive process, the images are imprinted onto linen by the artist’s own body, adding a remarkable depth to each work. In doing so, Nicole dissects the anatomy of these ubiquitous objects that are constantly in transit, much like her own lived experience of migrating to the UK from Manila at a young age.


SEA Focus
January 19 to 28
Tanjong Pagar Distripark, Singapore

For S.E.A. Focus 2024, Silverlens will be presenting works by seven contemporary artists from the Filipino diaspora and the Asia-Pacific region. 

Challenging the myth that the sociopolitical legacy of the Marcoses is one isolated to the Philippines, Pio Abad’s Thoughtful Gifts (2021) summons a transnational cast of characters that have either been in favor of, or weakened by the United States’ quest for empire and the perpetuation of its political mythologies.

In anonymity (2006 – 2011), one of the more iconic conceptual photographs of the past decade, Poklong Anading activates the idea of inter-dependence at the onset: subject—object—and light. The subject here, the person, bears an object, a mirror, which is held against their face and into the sunlight, producing a blinding glare that covers the holder’s identity. This iteration employs the use of lightboxes, extending the involvement of light beyond the photograph.

Nicole traces her history using a vessel of commerce: a transport crate, an object of utility common in Philippine trade. Nicole prints with these crates, transforming them from a means to an end to an end in itself. Forming labyrinthian networks, these traces become circuitry burnt into canvas. Nicole’s art speaks to the rich country of the Philippines while simultaneously holding a mirror to the now: the imprints of the past forming outlines of the present.

Taloi Havini created Reclamation collaboratively with her Hakö clan members. Underlying the wall-bound sculptures are questions about the ways in which we relate within temporal spaces; how borders are defined and claimed as well as the value of impermanence and embodied knowledge over fixed historical understandings.

As a continuation of his Blossom series, Bernardo Pacquing will present three new oil paintings. For his previous works in 2016, Pacquing explored the different visual stages of a flower blossoming. Inspired by his interest in process art, a form that places significance on progression, Bernardo chooses to experiment here with gestural execution and a focus on movement and cadence.

In Block Out the Sun (2021), Stephanie Syjuco responds to historical archives containing documentation of a faux Filipino village created for the 1904 World’s Fair. A newly-acquired colony of the United States, Filipino culture was showcased for the American public via a living “human zoo,” filled with 1200 imported “natives” performing dances and rituals. Over a century after the original photos were taken, Stephanie uses her body to intervene with the archive–both a temporary shield and a marker of defiance.

Seized in a vitrine, Ryan Villamael’s Pulô series depicts an oasis of an island that safeguards a vision of an indigenous loci. Ryan often works with archival materials such as paper and old books, transforming them into cut paper with intricate designs. Coinciding with SEA Focus, Ryan’s Locus Amoenus (2017 to 2023), a site-specific installation consisting of intricately cut lattice work from replicas of geographical maps, will occupy Esplanade Singapore, the country’s national performing arts center. First exhibited at the Singapore Biennale in 2016, Locus Amoenus has been shown in Shiga prefecture, Japan; Chiang Mai, Thailand, and; Manila, Philippines.

Throughout the Southeast Asian region, all mother tongues have a different name for the mat.  Nevertheless, there is an unparalleled intimacy in the shared experience of the mat tied to everyday life and ritual. Regarding the woven mat as architectural and democratic, Yee I-Lann considers it a portal to story-telling and a way to discover and unroll other knowledge.

As part of the fair program, there will be a panel discussion and book launch entitled Collaboration and Community: Yee I-Lann, June Yap and Beverly Yong in celebration of Yee I-Lann’s 216-page monograph Yee I-Lann: the sun will rise in the east on January 20 from 2 to 3 PM. Three years in the making, the book traces the arc of Yee I-Lann’s artistic practice through a sequence of essays and conversations, and photographic documentation of works made from 2011 to 2023.

Art Fair Philippines
February 15 to 18
Booth 2 (L5), The Link and Silverlens Manila

Silverlens returns to Art Fair Philippines with another two-part presentation of works by over 50 contemporary artists. The works will be exhibited concurrently at The Link, Makati and Silverlens Manila.

Participating Artists:

Pacita Abad, Pio Abad, Catalina Africa, Martha Atienza, Allan Balisi, Santiago Bose, Jonathan Ching, James Clar, Stephanie Comilang, Chati Coronel, Nicole Coson, Leslie De Chavez, Imelda Cajipe Endaya, Keka Enriquez, Patricia Perez Eustaquio, Mark Andy Garcia, Dina Gadia, Ayka Go, Gregory Halili, Taloi Havini, Paolo Icasas, Geraldine Javier, Mit Jai Inn, Robert Langenegger, Lou Lim, Luis Lorenzana, Arturo Luz, Gene Paul Martin, Pow Martinez, Maya Muñoz, Raffy Napay, Wawi Navarroza, Elaine Navas, Gina Osterloh, Renato Orara, Bernardo Pacquing, Gary-Ross Pastrana, Hanna Pettyjohn, Jon Pettyjohn, Tessy Pettyjohn, Yvonne Quisumbing, Issay Rodriguez, Norberto Roldan, Jose Tence Ruiz, Carina Santos, Isabel Santos, Luis Antonio Santos, Stephanie Syjuco, Maria Taniguchi, Leo Valledor, Carlos Villa, Ryan Villamael, Yee I-Lann, MM Yu, Eric Zamuco

Frieze Los Angeles 
February 29 to March 03
Booth B15, Santa Monica Airport

Silverlens will make its debut at Frieze Los Angeles with a duo artist presentation of works by Filipino-American artists Stephanie Syjuco and Jenifer Wofford. Both based in San Francisco, Wofford’s and Syjuco’s participation in the fair serves as a homecoming, underscoring California’s enduring role as a connector for artists, as well as for the US and Asia-Pacific regions.

Stephanie Syjuco will recontextualize the extensive analog archives of the now-defunct Manila Chronicle in her latest series of photographic works. Collaging and digitizing images captured from the post-war era (which spans the newspaper’s founding in 1945 to its closure in 1972 due to the imposition of martial law), Stephanie expounds upon the history-building and myth-making led by Filipinos within their newfound independence. Meditatively assembling archived news stories and previously printed photographs of foliage and flora alongside perilous political propaganda, Syjuco transforms the ordinary and the violent into novel expressions of exploration, inquiry, and discovery.

Jenifer will showcase works from her Comfort Room series, a title derived from the Filipino euphemism for ‘toilet,’ symbolizing the brief respite found in the privacy of a bathroom. Exploring the delicate balance and slippage between joy and grief, the paintings capture the opulence and camp of the iconic Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, California. Embracing the vibrancy of the landmark hotel and resort, Wofford’s paintings probe themes of transience, migration, and Americana to craft a newly established in-between, forging space for both evolution and reinvention.  

Art Basel Hong Kong
March 26 to 30
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre

Silverlens is thrilled to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong for the first time after expanding to New York City in 2022 with a booth raising the flags of artists of the Filipino diaspora and Southeast Asia. Pacita Abad, Carlos Villa, and Stephanie Syjuco – who all name San Francisco as the starting point of their art practices – anchor the booth with work about abstraction, migration, and the colonial gaze. From the other side of the Pacific, we have Yee I-Lann’s humble tikar (woven mat) which spotlighting the urgency of circular economies, and Pow Martinez’s paintings which are a salve to preserving our mental health. Made in London, Nicole Coson’s monoprints examine the concept of invisibility as an effective artistic strategy. Exhibiting at Art Basel Hong Kong for the first time, Imelda Cajipe Endaya is presenting works that center on women empowerment and sisterhood in the Filipino context. An artist-activist, cultural worker, and community leader, Cajipe-Endaya co-founded the feminist organization Kababaihan sa Sining at Bagong Sibol na Kamalayan (KASIBULAN).

For the Encounters sector of the fair, Patricia Perez Eustaquio will be presenting a new large-scale woven tapestry based on a reworked 20th-century photograph of a native Filipino woman taken by an American. The work is part of her ongoing series of tapestries featuring historical images manipulated and reinterpreted via photography and digital loom.

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