Galleries Gone Rogue


Manila’s got a lot on its mind—politics, culture, traffic—and bares its soul through its art. A growing audience boosts the industry and there’s more art than spaces to show them in. So artist-run spaces have been popping up, with people ready to share a drink and talk it out. Alternative art spaces have the reputation of being the spunkier, younger sibling to the fine art gallery. They pay their respects to the veterans, but shine the spotlight on the next generation, the emerging artist. In turn, these new galleries and the art that inhabit speak our language, tapping into pop icons, shared experiences, and urban imagery. Where fine art galleries keep pristine white walls, rigid curatorial practices are ultimately driven by the market and collectors, the alternative has much more freedom to experiment. It resonates with our generation because it rebels against definition. Manila’s alternative art spaces juggle visual art with music, film, and so much more!

Updated a year ago

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Pineapple Lab

Makati City, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

At Pineapple Lab, the only limit is a dull imagination. They incubate ideas with up-and-coming artists in their residency program and, together, birth it into fruition! An exhibit is staple to the gallery, but the real magic happens at any one of the special events regularly happening at the Lab. And, something’s always brewing. Strut into a neighborhood night, called Pineapple Jam, to catch up on what’s new at the Lab. Live music, experimental theater, performance art, you name it, it could be taking shape that night! Join a workshop and, if you’re feeling ultra-inspired, pitch a project. Anyone in search of inspiration is bound to find it at Pineapple Lab. (Entrance is free to the gallery, but check their Facebook page for updates on special events—those may have door charges.)


6053 R. Palma Street, Poblacion, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines

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Makati City, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

Art, even when it inspires, isn’t always pretty. MO_Space aims beyond eye-candy and peddles the head-scratching stuff. Run by artists for fellow artists, the gallery is at its heart a playground to explore craft instead of catering primarily to private collectors. They’ll go as far as providing exhibition space for free. It’s a brave stance to take in the corporate-driven business district of Bonifacio Global City, but admirable. It’s what makes MO_Space lovable to its patrons. The gallery has stubbornly set its foundation in heart of High Street amidst the brand names. Yet, with open doors since 2007, MO_Space is here to stay.


3rd floor, MOs Design Building, B2 9th Avenue, Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

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Vinyl on Vinyl

Makati City, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

After exploring the unknown, kick up the nostalgia. Growing up in Manila, you spend hot summer days playing on the streets, but you still come home to the same puppets and cartoons on TV as the rest of the world. Vinyl on Vinyl (VOV) is pop culture-obsessed in the way that we all secretly are. Cartoon characters mangled beyond recognition, candy-colored portraits of Filipino politicians, and remixed masterpieces are just some of the ways pop artists at VOV transform the iconic. Each piece is a revolt against the dogma that there is no room for play in the “serious” gallery space.


2241 Pasillo 18, La Fuerza Compound 1, Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City, Philippines

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Secret Fresh

San Juan, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

Those who say toys are only for kids haven't found some as cool as the designer figures at Secret Fresh. Rekindle the inner kid in you at this grown-up toy store in the form of an art gallery. Founder Bigboy Cheng is a DJ, sneaker head, and fellow vinyl toy collector himself. He started Fresh as a store for designer toys, then reinvented it as Secret Fresh, a gallery space for art collectibles. From there, the space has evolved to include toys, paintings, and installations all within the same gallery walls.


Ground Floor, RONAC Art Center, Ortigas Avenue, Greenhills, San Juan City, Metro Manila, Philippines

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Bonifacio Global City Murals

Makati City, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

For these larger-than-life murals, the city is their gallery. Ready your camera because you're bound to stumble upon these artworks of all sizes scattered around Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig. The murals at BGC are popular for photo opportunities by touring locals and visiting foreigners alike! There are more than fifteen murals to keep an eye out for on your hunt. Every year, more murals are added to the city in the ArtBGC festival. International artists bring a colorful perspective to the city, while the local artists who participate reference Filipino culture in their murals.

Icon Plaza Building, Federacion Drive, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines

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Ayala Avenue Underpass

Makati City, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

At the Ayala Avenue Underpasses, art escapes from within the white walls onto the ceilings of underground walkways. When traversing Ayala Avenue in the Makati Central Business District, don’t forget to look up! The ceiling-bound murals are actually subtle street art-style ads—by brands like Nestle or Shell—but they’re sure to brighten your day! The project is an initiative of the Makati Commercial Estate Association in partnership with Ayala Land to improve the walkability of the area.

Ayala Avenue corner Makati Avenue, Makati City, Philippines

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98B COLLABoratory

Manila, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

Traces of Old Manila mingle with the present-day art scene as aging Art Deco buildings sprinkle along Escolta Street. Explore history and look forward into the future. 98B COLLABoratory is breathing life back into historic Escolta with each collaborative exhibit, weekend market, and program they host! Escolta was the central business district and commercial center of Old Manila from the 1800s to 1990s. 98B COLLABoratory was built within the First United Building, one of the few surviving Art Deco structures in Manila. A long history of Philippine art threads together the history of 98B COLLABoratory as son of renowned Filipino painter, Juan Luna, designed the building. Today, these threads are still weaving and adding to the neighborhood’s story.

Mezzanine Level, First United Building, 413 Escolta Street, Manila City, Metro Manila, Philippines

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Artery Art Space

San Juan, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

Artery Art Space was born as a space where market meets craft without sacrificing one for the other. Hangout with a friend—or a first date—at the snack bar and dish out your thoughts on their latest exhibit. Work displayed veer toward paintings, with installations and performances occasionally curated into the space. Make sure to bring home a little something from their store to remind you of your visit!


102 P. Tuazon Boulevard, Cubao, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

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Green Papaya Art Projects

Quezon City, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

Very rarely do you get to share a meal and an open discussion with the art community—not because of the starving artist stereotype, but because of the distance conventional art institutions have made between the spectator and the artist. Green Papaya Art Projects is one of the older artist-run galleries around. They first opened their doors in 2000, and have moved several locations, lost a few people on the team, but still persisted. They’re more than an exhibit space, though they do that well, too. They have a bar and kitchen where communal meals and intimate talks are a common thing. The best hours to come vary, so best check their Facebook page for updates on events (there are plenty). In a summit at the Ayala Museum, one of its two founders, Norberto Roldan announced that Green Papaya Art Projects would be closing its doors for good in 2020. If that’s not motivation enough to catch such a precious space while it’s around, we don’t know what is!


41B T. Gener Street, Kamuning, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

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Makati City, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

All art is political, but 1335Mabini takes on the hard stuff—like history, collective memory, and politics—through exhibitions and discussions. Manila’s nitty gritty issues pressing on the country today are laid bare through exhibitions, public talks, and international linkages. The gallery was originally founded in an old colonial mansion at 1335 Mabini Street in Manila City, where it still operates as Mabini Projects. Artists-in-residence are invited to live and work in the studio for a few months. It’s their pseudo-laboratory where artists and curators play around. It is their new Makati location, however, where the fight unabashedly continues. Their work is critical of the present state of the nation, sometimes holding a dissenting opinion. Recent exhibitions, like “Salvage Projects” by Mark Salvatus have played on mobility in the city and the debris we leave behind, as told through found objects. In 2017, it was the rise of unsolved killings in the country that hung heavy on the artists’ mind, prompting “Notes on Dissent” by artists Junyee, Gus Albor, and Tengal Drilon.


Unit C1B Karrvin Plaza, 2316 Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines

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Art Fair Philippines

Makati City, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

A bonus: survey the breadth of Philippine contemporary art in one go! Every year since 2013, when February or March rolls around, over 40 galleries—both commercial and artist-run—replace the wheels that occupy The Link car park. White gallery walls and air-conditioning are built into the space, but the concrete floor complete with markings remain. The opportunity to exhibit at the fair is purely by invitation, but the organizers have been committed to fully represent it all. The canon and the emergent, the serious or the experimental; for a week, it’s all there. The fair started from a single floor of The Link car park to a whopping six in 2018! Talks and Art Fair PH-exclusive projects have also been increasingly integrated into the program, making it the most coveted ticket in the Manila art scene.

The Link, Parkway Drive, Makati City, Philippines

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