Here’s a win for Asian art — Manila-based Silverlens Gallery is set to expand in the United States as it opens its first outpost in Chelsea, New York City in September.
The expansion by Silverlens, described as “one of Southeast Asia’s powerhouse galleries” by art market website Artnet, is seen as an important milestone for Asian galleries as its one of the few from the region to have expanded into the West.
Silverlens co-owners Isa Lorenzo and Rachel Rillo told Artnet that, aside from featuring artists from Asia, they hope to integrate a curator-based program with New York City-based curators who deal with artists from diasporic communities.
“We also recognize that we definitely need to show American artists who at least have some heritage or connections to where we are from. It will be a challenge, but at the same time, very exciting,” Lorenzo said.
Lorenzo talked to Artnet about opening Silverlens in Manila in 2004, and how opening a gallery in New York had always been on her mind after graduating from the New School’s Parsons School of Design.
“In 2004 when I left New York, I was absolutely invisible,” Lorenzo recalled. “I was the wrong gender, the wrong Asian, and the wrong minority. We couldn’t be identified as Asian because we didn’t look Chinese or Japanese.”
“They were so confused. Like, why are your names Hispanic? It was like history lesson 101 every 30 minutes. So that didn’t work,” Rillo added.
The New York outpost will reportedly occupy a 2,500 square-foot (about 232 square meters) ground floor space with 20-foot ceilings. It will also be home to artist talks and film screenings.
Its September 8 opening will feature two solo presentations of works by Philippines-born artist Martha Atienza and Kota Kinabalu artist Yee I-Lann.