Sigwada Gallery: thinking about art

Sigwada Gallery: thinking about art
By Walter Ang
September 13, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Sigwada Gallery considers itself as a "gallery-in-progress," says its owners, Fabian and Cecile Pagaduan.

Progress, for this particular month, is marked by celebrating its second anniversary with a group exhibit titled "Theses on Philosophy" curated by Joseph Crisanto Martinez. Emerging artists will showcase works inspired by philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Soren Kierkegaard, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, among others.

"They will tackle either their favorite philosopher's thought or questions related to man's existence, man's freedom, and God or morality," says Fabian, who has a masters in philosophy himself and is the deciding entity behind the gallery's artistic directions.

He dispels the possibility that the subject matter will make the artworks too high brow. "We live philosophy everyday! As long as we think about what it is to live and not just merely surviving," he says.

"The objective of the show is to promote thinking, reflection and philosophical engagement on the part of both artists and appreciators/collectors. And since philosophers have always been known to be trailblazers in idea concepts and thought, likewise, the artists explore new visual concepts as well."

The couple makes no claims to expertise and admits to being "new, small, inexperienced and naive." Nonetheless, the gallery is not without personality.

Along Oroquieta Street in downtown Manila, it's easy to miss amongst a row of stores selling religious paraphernalia. "I used to run a similar store," says Cecile. "After my husband retired from his banking career, we decided to open the gallery to support our son and our nephew. Both are studying to become artists."

Another point of differentiation is its earnestness. The gallery doesn't have a website, but it does have a blog where the couple chronicles their ever evolving thrusts for the gallery, confesses occasional bouts of doubt and apprehension, and inventories accomplishments.

There, they also make known the gallery's two-fold mission: "to pursue philosophy-oriented art on one hand and on the other, promote art for the masses."

The blog proceeds to point out the tenets that guide the gallery's selection process. "We will pursue aesthetics, new art concept, inspiration, mystery. Artworks that have A.C.I.M."

Clever acronyms aside, the couple notes that they are "very serious about making Sigwada a different gallery, a gallery for artists with passion and innovation."

And, yes, a gallery that's accessible to the middle class market: it has a self-imposed pricing cap of P50,000 for it works. There are plans to conduct an art sale later this year where works averaging one by two feet will have a price cap of P3,000.

Since opening last year, it has hosted a street art festival; organized an art exhibit in Manila City Hall; organized an exhibit entitled "Yellow Democracy" at the Lacson Underpass in honor of Cory Aquino ("The painting of Tita Cory used in the campaign of Noynoy was a gift from our gallery."); and even organized art workshops and performances with music jamming sessions.

"By just keeping at this, we know the buyers will take notice and come. It's the age-old formula of the hole-in-the-wall lumpia maker in Quiapo who makes the best lumpia there is but whose customers go all the way there to buy," says Fabian.

People do notice. "One of our buyers stated that prices in other galleries are high, even exorbitant, and that our pricing cap is a welcome and interesting development," he adds.

They've also received positive feedback from the artist community. "An artist who had stopped painting for years was encouraged to take up the brush once again after reading our gallery's vision and mission," he says. "It inspires us to continue along this track."

"Art is not only for the elite, it is for everybody. Art can be fun, art can be a magnet for laughter and company. Here at Sigwada Gallery anything goes. We welcome everybody."

"Theses on Philosophy" runs till the end of the month. Sigwada Gallery is at 1921 Oroquieta St. (near corner of Tayuman St.), Sta. Cruz, Manila. Call 743-5873 or 0917-807-5659 or email