Shop, dine, and enjoy art in this mall trail in Taguig

“Life as We Know It” brings art closer to Filipinos through two of our favorite activities: malling and dining.

Most people think of art as pieces displayed in museums. Though they are not wrong, art has long transcended the walls of these spaces. It exists in public areas, it can be the food we eat, or clothes we wear. Art can be anywhere—even in the mall. 

With “Life as We Know It,” the latest iteration of SM Aura’s “Art in Aura,” art is brought closer to the public through two of our favorite activities: malling and eating. Until July 14, mall goers will have the chance to see artworks—from paintings to sculptures—and cap off the mini art expedition with a selection of food inspired by the oeuvres. Curated by writer, columnist, and food expert Angelo Comsti, you know you’re in for a few hours of great art and equally great food.

The art trail features seven artists with their select works, with five of the pieces inspiring off-the-menu dishes you could try at the mall’s fourth level food hall. Those interested can register online via a QR code (see photo above) and claim their map at the concierge. We suggest following the trail map for a more orderly stroll from one artwork to another.

The trail opens with the mesmerizing “Sa Bingit ng Pagbabagong Anyo ng Diwata,” by sculptor Joshua “Alon” Palisoc. Palisoc—who has two degrees under his belt—nursing and fine arts—explains during the special media tour that the shape-shifting diwata embodies the concept of gender fluidity. Fins, wings, and horns adorn its androgynous figure.

He adds that his work shows how indigenous myths, beliefs, and perspectives continue to survive against an “oppressive modern world,” symbolized by the fluorescent light (spear) that impales the figure. 

Palisoc’s work inspired the 100s and 1000s Gelato Dish from Gelato by Chef Miko. The vibrant colors of the ice cream takes after the electrifying hues of the sculpture. 

The next two stops on the trail are already SM Aura mainstays: Jefre Manuel’s “Tarsier” at the main entrance 2 and Archie Oclos’ murals of National Treasures Apo Whang-Od and Lang Dulay at the grand staircase. Figueras’ other works in his “Sculpture Contour Series” are at the mall’s Sky Park.

Next on the trail, just outside Booknook at the third level, is Michael Sagaran’s “Taal Volcano 2020 Eruption.” The arresting acrylic painting on canvas is based on the artist’s photograph of the erupting volcano which he witnessed first hand. Sagaran, who is a full-time hotelier, shares that he dabbles in art as a means to relax outside his profession.

His painting inspired Puffy Soufflé Pancake Café’s Strawberry Mochi Soufflé Pancake. A bite into the Japanese-style pancake is an eruption of flavors—sweet and slightly sour, soft and sticky all at the same time.

A few meters away from Sagaran’s painting is the hypnotic “Emotion through Motion” by Vincent Diñoso. I have to say that I’ve never seen anything quite like that painting that uses acrylic on gauze. Diñoso paints overlapping images of a ballerina in varying fetal positions. The images were painted separately but layered together to create a 3D/ holographic illusion.

Diñoso believes that the human form itself is “expressive and communicative” with the ability to communicate to the viewer. And that’s what his piece does exactly—it doesn’t only communicate, it also draws you in. 

Lè Chon Prime’s Lechon Porchetta tries to capture the multi-layered charm of Diñoso’s work with its crunchy pork and vegetables encased in soft white bao. This delightful treat is a study in textures and flavors: equal parts soft and crunchy, sweet and savory.

The penultimate artwork in the trail is Bryant Wilson Cuison’s “Resonance.” Cuison shares that being a contractor and artist pushes him to explore the use of construction materials for his artworks. He explains that the circles in the painting represent peepholes that invite one to explore unfiltered emotions and limitless creativity, as well as encourage introspection.

The interplay of sweetness and acidity of Taekha’s Sweet and Sour Prawn Balls takes after the complexity of “Resonance,” and its circular shape reminiscent of the captivating circles that dot Cuison’s work.

The last stop in the art trail is food and travel photographer Belle Dinglasa’s black-and-white photograph of sugarcane workers carrying their harvest on their back. The young artist shares that the photograph is a tribute to her grandfather Melchor, who worked at the maintenance department of a sugar cane milling company in Talisay, Negros Occidental in the 1960s. The photograph has a magical feel to it, making it look like a painting at first glance.

It’s quite obvious how Yardstick Café’s Monochrome Latte is an ode to the monochromatic and nostalgic beauty of “Azucarera.” The cold coffee drink has a stark black color due to the addition of activated charcoal that transforms into a subtle gray when mixed in with the sea salt foam. It’s a drink that looks, tastes, and feels like nostalgia—much like Dinglasa’s photo which is laced with a poignant feel.

All the food establishments mentioned are located at SM Aura’s Food on Four at the fourth level, where you can go and enjoy the off-the-menu and art-inspired dishes while contemplating what the pieces mean—and how life is as we know it. 

Associate Editor

The new lifestyle.