A showcase for artists | Inquirer Opinion
At Large

A showcase for artists

/ 01:45 AM November 16, 2016

They may have to compete with the magnificent view of the Manila Bay sunset, but the art of Conrad Manila are themselves an attraction, sights to soothe, inspire, provoke and delight.

Just a few months after opening its doors to the public, Conrad Manila last week launched a book: “The Art of Conrad Manila.” The book celebrates the paintings, sculpture, tapestries, ceramics and found objects that festoon the hotel’s public spaces, restaurants and rooms. What is notable is that the artists represented in this collection are all Filipino, many of them young and upcoming, alongside more established names.

Conrad Manila Art Program head Nestor Jardin, who led the team that selected and curated the pieces found in the hallways, lobbies and walls of the hotel, says that they took their cue from Elizabeth Sy, president of the SM Hotels and Conventions Corp.

“I believe that we have more than enough artists who are producing works of outstanding quality,” said Sy, which is why she directed Jardin, who used to be the president and artistic director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, to source the hotel’s art pieces mainly from young Filipino artists and artisans.


The first artwork to greet hotel-goers at the ground floor lobby is the “Oroborus,” a huge hanging installation in mother-of-pearl finish by Leeroy New. It evokes underwater fauna, perhaps an indirect allusion to the hotel’s seaside locale. The “oroborus” is also a mythical giant snake usually depicted as eating its tail, the looped linked leaves, said New, referencing “the cyclical nature of life.”

The centerpiece in the third-floor main lobby is “Splendor,” renowned glass artist Impy Pilapil’s personal homage to sea life and, in her own words, “the mysterious working of life beneath the surface,” that provides a multi-faceted, kinetic feeling as one circles the piece.

I could sense that Sy’s personal favorite was Mark Justiniani’s “Crossings,” which she insisted we view at the dim elevator lobby outside the coffee shop Brasserie on 3. It depicts a church hallway or aisle, bordered by pillars and arches, the image repeated endlessly through the magic of reflective mirrors, inviting the viewer to reach deep into the Filipino Catholic consciousness.

It may take many days or weeks to fully appreciate the full scope of the art in Conrad Manila, in all its novelty, variety and substance. But during this season, visitors may glimpse an additional piece of public art, a “Christmas tree” crafted from glass and steel by Impy Pilapil, in the third floor main lobby.


The piece, says Pilapil, is not so much a “tree” as a homage to the heavens, replicating the endlessly revolving, floating bits of brilliance we glimpse from the night sky. At the tree lighting ceremony, lamps lit the sculpture predominantly green, but it could very well be a showcase of rainbow colors, the better to reflect the magnificence of the heavens.

Traffic woes prevented this writer from fully witnessing the ritual of turning on the lights for the Conrad’s Christmas tree. But it certainly sounds like an excellent occasion, marked by performances by two choirs: the world-renowned Vienna Boys Choir that held a concert at the PICC the night before, and the international award-winning Hail Mary the Queen Choir who were all dressed in native garb.


Indeed, what better way to enjoy the holidays than to bask in the seaside splendor of a hotel by the bay, surrounded by the best and boldest art from the hands and hearts of the country’s artists?

The fervid holiday season is no excuse to shirk personal development or pursue business potentials.

On Saturday, Nov. 19, young “digital entrepreneur” Jon Orana will hold an e-book online seminar at Lancaster Hotel in Mandaluyong (register at [email protected]).

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Orana provides online courses to over 100,000 e-mail business subscribers, selling over $1 million worth of digital products to a growing online market. Through his courses, students learn how to tap the huge potential of e-businesses, opening up new frontiers for promising entrepreneurs in “the wide and lucrative world of business on the Internet.”

TAGS: artist, opinion, painting, sculpture

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