Asia’s Art Cities According to Collectors: Kim Camacho on Manila

Portrait of Kim Camacho. Photo by Anna Acuna.
ART Power HK

Editor’s Note: There are many sides to modern Asian metropolis, and just as many ways to visit them. For collectors and art lovers, the best way to explore new urban scenarios and learn about a country’s cultural, social and political situation is certainly through contemporary art. However, the question for those who set foot in a new city for the first time is always the same: where do I start my artistic adventure from?

Here at CoBo we have a few, very exciting cues; for our Asia’s Art Cities Guide we have asked the most authoritative local collectors to share their best kept secrets about their own city’s art scene. Whether it is Kim Camacho’s Manila, the Jakarta art scene through the eyes of Tom Tandio, Adrian Cheng’s recommendations about the new cultural districts in Hong Kong, Disaphol Chansiri’s anticipation of the two new biennales in Thailand, Ivan Pun’s exploration in Myanmar, Ichrio Fukano’s highlights on art and lifestyle in Tokyo, the exclusive insights of Tarana Sawhney on Delhi, Higgin Kim’s insider’s take on Seoul, or Zheng Hao’s all-time favourite Shanghai, we want to give you a foray into what these Asian fast-developing cities have to offer.

In conjunction with our collectors art tours, we want to bring you straight to the galleries, art spaces, or informal hangouts that will influence trends for the Asian art scene to come, to see by yourself in which direction the artistic stream is going. If it’s true that exploring the Asian art scene means getting off the beaten path and taking an unconventional look at these vibrant hubs, then wearing the lens of these bunch of top-notch insiders is the best way to do it.


Kim Camacho – Manila

Portrait of Kim Camacho. Photo by Anna Acuna.


You can’t think about the art of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama without connecting it to its most prominent collectors, Kim Camacho and her husband Lito. The Filipino couple begun collecting art while living in New York in the late ’70s. Starting from Persian carpets, antique Oriental furniture, Filipino modern art, and Ming funerary furniture and artefacts, the collectors slowly developed a passion for Kusama, building a comprehensive collection of the artist’s work. When the couple relocated to Manila in 1981, they quickly became regulars on the local art circuit, and to this day they closely follow the development of the Filipino art scene.


How would you describe the art scene in Manila?

I would describe it as vibrant, invigorating, multi-dimensional and supercharged.


When we talk about Kusama, we also think of you and the pumpkin. Can you name a place in Manila that provides the best pumpkin soup?

You get the best pumpkin soup in the home of my BFF Beauty, Ching Cruz, and her husband Philip.


Does any place in Manila remind you of your favourite Kusama works?

My home!


Where is your favourite art space in town, and why?

I like MO_Space in Bonifacio Global City district (BGC) the best. I really admire their exhibitions, the artists they show, the curators they choose, the people who come to their openings, the stylishness of their exhibition openings and friendliness of the gallerists.


Where is the best place for an artsy couple to hang out?

The best place would be Silverlens because the exhibits are often good and Isa Lorenzo is always good company.


What is the best art event you shouldn’t miss in town?

Art Fair Philippines, which only happens once a year in February and should not be missed.


What should art lovers know and prepare for before they set foot in Manila?

They should know that there is a wide range in the quality of artworks produced by artists in the Philippines, and good galleries are not concentrated in one place but are scattered all over town, although there are many good ones in Makati. It is also worth knowing that Negros Occidental, especially Bacolod City, has some very good artists who are worth visiting, even if it takes an one-hour flight out of Manila to get there. They should also check out The National Museum in Manila.




Kim & Lito Camacho have accumulated one of the most impressive private collections in the region, with special attention to the works of Yayoi Kusama. Besides busy collecting the dots, the couple shared with us their latest discoveries at the fair.




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