Art Fair Philippines 2014: Featured Artist Louie Cordero

If you’re not excited about art, Cordero’s pieces might change your mind.

( Art Fair Philippines 2014 opens to the public on February 20, and if Louie Cordero is anxious about his solo exhibit for the show, he’s pretty good at hiding it. The 35-year-old artist was wearing a Super Mario-themed shirt, shorts, and slippers when we sat down to talk to him, and he was the definition of casual even as we spoke about the upcoming fair.


He has exhibited at the Singapore Biennale, at the International Hong Kong Art Fair, plus a solo exhibit at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery in New York. He’s also been featured in CNN. He’s kind of a big deal but you’ll never guess from the way he carries himself.


"Tinext ako ni Trickie [Lopa] (one of the organizers of Art Fair Philippines - ed.)," he told us when we asked him how he ended up as a featured artist this year, "Tapos tiningnan ko yung space. Medyo malaki and iniisip ko kung ano gagawin ko kasi challenging yung space."


He came up with ping-pong tables. He plays the sport, but not professionally, and he felt like it was a good idea to have something that art patrons can interact with during the fair. And for him, table tennis says something about the landscape of Philippine art today.



Cordero’s stencil for a misshapen ping-pong table


He recognizes the recent boom in the industry and it reminded him of ping-pong-the feeling of competition included, making art feel like a sport as it becomes a viable career with big money involved. He clarifies that it’s not quite perceived as a job yet and even questions the need for it to be recognized as such.


He explained that, as in most things, the current marketing frenzy is both good and bad, adding, "It’s the same feeling when you’re watching sports. You watch the players move. You get excited. At least ’yong mga bata ngayon hindi na sila papagalitan ng parents nila kung gusto nilang maging artist."

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His work for the fair has been pegged as "interactive sports-inspired," but in his own words, the major theme of his art is simply fun. He thought of designing a playground first but felt like he wanted something that’s more personal and connected to him-more fun.


The games begin here



"Masaya lang. I want people to come to the fair na hindi masyadong stiff. Kasi you go there, you see artwork, and then you go home. I mean, you can experience something by looking at the art pero naisip kong mas okay kung mag-tournament ng ping-pong sa loob ng fair. To break the stiffness." Cordero explained as he casually glanced at the progress of the tables. We went to check on the people helping him build the tables, who turned out to be airbrushers of jeepney art.


One of the four tables beind dotted on by several hands


Without giving it much thought, Cordero inserts small Pinoy elements in his art. In 2011, he designed "Me We" for the Singapore Biennale. It’s a videoke machine that contains one song ("My Way"), embracing the alleged curse. He explains that it’s incidental and what he’s really trying to do is create things from everything that influences him. The trippy, psychedelic patterns he created for his ping-pong tables seem to support his claims.



After checking with the people working on the table, he showed us the legs-which looked like standalone sculptures.


Hot legs


He gestured to an unfinished leg and said he preferred it over the completed ones, "Gusto ko yung medyo pangit. Mas pangit, mas maganda."


As the creator of Nardong Tae, he isn’t kidding. He tell us that the baduy is better, expressing his interest in putting together kitschy items and appreciating ugly things. The challenge is to how to make people appreciate what he creates.




On the last day of the exhibit, he’s hoping to conduct a ping-pong tournament for attendees. Winners get to take home trophies, which he designed. Better start practicing your table tennis skills now.


Art Fair Philippines runs from February 20 to 23 at 6/F and 7/F of The Link, Parkway Drive, Ayala Center, Makati City

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