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Silverlens Gallery’s New Outpost in Chelsea Is a Lighthouse for Southeast Asian Artists

In Manila, Silverlens became one of the most prominent galleries in Southeast Asia, representing international artists including James Clar, Maria Taniguchi, Pacita Abad, and Mit Jai Inn. Lorenzo and Rillo also raised their profiles through art consultancy work, collaborations with other galleries, and participating in fairs such as the Armory Show in New York and biennials across the globe.

Now, Silverlens is ready to make a more lasting mark on the New York scene, and expand the audience for Southeast Asian artists. Much of the work from that area “is directly connected to the natural world. The materials are domestic and humble in a similar fashion to Cuban minimalism, when work was made out of bedsheets” Rillo says. “There’s also a deep sense of urgency. Artists don’t have decades to iron out an idea. It’s about the now, and with the now comes a high level of authenticity.”

But can a new gallery with such a specific worldview survive in the highly competitive art market? The buying power is certainly there, as a recent Sotheby’s auction in Singapore —which exceeded its estimate by over $7 million—easily proves. “During COVID, our sales soared. And more of our clients and buyers came from the United States,” says Lorenzo.

This also feels like their moment for other reasons. Turning to me, a Filipino-American writer, Lorenzo adds, “The time is right because we are talking to you—someone who looks like us, who comes from where we come from, and who writes for Vogue. I’m old enough to say that this was not a thing back in 2004. Our time is now.”

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