Victoria Turegun – Arts and Luxury Goods in the Philippines
Last updated August 21, 2019
Today, Derek is joined by Victoria Turegun, and they will discuss about luxury goods, paintings and art. They will also briefly discuss the buying habits of Filipinos.
- Victoria discussed her background in luxury goods and paintings and briefly discussed the buying habits of the Filipino elite.
- Victoria’s background is in Human Resources but her passion has always been in the arts. So, she graduated from Sotheby’s Institute of Art so she can be a certified specialist in art consultancy.
- She specializes in European Art and Russian Art
- When we say Russian Art, it doesn’t only mean “geographically Russian”. It’s under an umbrella of Russian art; Ukrainian art, Armenian art and Georgian art.
- The Philippines has a very specific market. It’s completely different from the European market. First of all, because art developed in the Philippines in a different way. Also, in the Philippines, they have a preference for modern abstract art.
- Filipinos try to support their local artists. Most Filipino collectors only own pieces from Filipino artists.
- The real art collectors collect for the love of art. They don’t really care about the names they just buy what they like and they don’t care who the painter is or the painter’s credentials.
- Filipinos prefer Asian Art over Russian Art.
- Filipinos have a very strong culture, even in other countries they still stick together.
- Filipinos have a better appreciation for modern and abstract art than classical art.
- Filipinos support local artists than foreign artists, most Filipino art collector own art pieces from Filipino artists.
- Impressionists started out as rebels, they weren’t accepted by society back then.
Hi and welcome to another episode of Outsource Accelerator podcast. My name is Derek Gallimore. And today we are joined by Victoria Turegun. She is an ex-pat living in the Philippines has been doing so for four and a half years and has an interesting very varied background in luxury goods and paintings and as a bit of a segue way to business is a bit of an insight into Philippine consumerism. I have a chat to Victoria about the fine art market and the more affluent set of Manila and the Philippines.
So, it’s a little bit different podcast today but there’s lots of great information in there and I hope you enjoy. If you want any of the notes or information about this or want to know more about Victoria then go to our show notes. You will find this episode at outsourceaccelerator.com/podcast/episode30.
Derek: Okay so I’m joined today by Victoria Turegun. Hi Victoria.
Derek: And Victoria is an ex-pat as you might pick up from the accent, been living in the Philippines for quite some years now. And you work between Manila and internationally and this is where I’m a bit out of my depth but you work within luxury good market specifically art and paintings. And I think it’s interesting to chat to you and for listeners to get an insight into sort of broader markets of the Philippines and how things work. Now, you have, it’s probably fair to say some insight into the higher end of society in Europe and Southeast Asia and the Philippines now where you’re based and, and also their buying habits. So, I just want to get a sense from you and you’ve, you can explain this and introduce yourself. But being, dealing in arts and things like that and it would be interesting to get an insight into the buying habits and preferences for Southeast Asian and in regards to that. So, and so I suppose we can start by, how did this come to be? How did you get into this, Victoria?
Victoria: Into arts or into?
Derek: Yeah, into arts. So, I suppose what is your background and did you train in that? And then how did you find yourself trading in the Philippines.
Victoria: Okay, my big my background mainly it’s in human resources. But I, my hobby was art for all my life as I remember. And I finally graduated from Sotheby’s Institute of Art so that I can be a certified specialist in art in art consultancy.
Derek: And you specialize in Eastern European art?
Victoria: Yeah and Russian art. Okay, but I was not forced from Sotheby’s. I was not trained in terms of Russian art; Russian art is more my preference. I’m more let’s say like an art expert in history of art in trends and styles and everything. So, but I really, being a Russian person, okay Ukrainian Russian but by Russian art we always say in the world of the people who are related to art, Russian doesn’t mean geographically Russian you know. It’s like under umbrella of Russian art, we mean Ukrainian art, Armenian art, Georgian art.
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Derek: The whole empire.
Victoria: The whole Russian empire art. Yes.
Derek: So what sort of I mean this is going down a bit of a rabbit hole but what, what eras? Is it modern art or is Russian generally classical?
Victoria: When we say Russian art, we are talking about Art up to 20th century. Now it’s really well.
Derek: What happened to Russian art since?
Victoria: No is a really separate now. But by saying Russian art you mean exactly geographically Russian are only people are involved into our business they realize when you say Russian art it might mean that you cover all the Soviet Union former republics. Let’s say it’s not even republics but mostly about Russian empire which included many places, you know so.
Derek: And most people would assume it’s like classical art.
Victoria: It is classical art.
Derek: Is it the modern, modern is it is Russia full of like Tracy Emin’s and stuff doing messy or is it still a classical element to Russian Art.
Victoria: No. It’s still, the Russian art. It’s more like academic school which means more impressionism more like realistic art. There is of course conceptual art in Russian modern art but it’s not that popular. People are still like from old school you know they prefer to buy classical.
Derek: And is that actually highly regarded or seen as passé.
Derek: it is like a modern Russian impressionist is that still highly regarded or is it.
Victoria: Yes, it is you know it’s of really high demand in most of the painters. They know that you know it’s like they offer, the demand gives birth to offer, you know. So, the demands of Russian people is in classical art. That’s why most of the painters are still working in the same style like academic style by improving it in terms of techniques in terms of subject matter or something like that trying to innovate something. But it’s still classical art. It’s not modern art it’s not Avant Garde. It’s not like Surly or something.
Victoria: So, it’s basically classical academic art.
Derek: And so, let’s bridge to the southeast, southeast Asia not so much necessarily how you found yourself here but how you found integrating I suppose your passion and with art and the tastes and buying habits of Southeast Asians.
Victoria: As I’ve mentioned I worked only with Singapore, Hong Kong and China. And now I have experience in the Philippines. Let’s say it’s a very specific market. It’s completely different from European market really very different. First of all because art was developing in this country in a different way. You know it was different demand for art and regarding Philippines, It’s very much specific because here it’s very different from Russia from Ukraine. Let’s say from all those former Soviet Union countries. In the Philippines, the preferences for modern abstract art. I don’t know. It depends on the lack of classic school. No, it’s, true you know it’s the way students are taught at the let’s say Academy of Art although.
Derek: It’s about expression as opposed to conformity.
Victoria: The people here they most support some innovations, something new something out of the box you know not something classical. That’s why it’s very narrow market. You know it’s very much Filipino and it doesn’t welcome the art from other countries. It’s very close market.
Derek: Right. Okay.
Victoria: I experienced it with the Russian art here because I made some exhibitions here I arranged some of the exhibitions. The first impression people love it because it’s something new and it’s something classic you know that’s what I said, the classic thing is like eternity. It will be in fashion in trend today in 50 years and 100 years. But people are very careful and not really willing to get something new here. You know though it’s not new it’s classical for centuries. You know they I think their perception is more like those pieces should hang in the museums than in their house.
Victoria: They try to support their local art a lot which is very good. Really very good. Most of the Filipino collectors. They own pieces only of the Filipino artists.
Derek: Is that like seen more as a patronage of the arts as opposed to an appreciation of the arts?
Victoria: I think yes you know it’s some kind of you know trying to support their own culture and it’s kind of from the feeling that most of friends, Filipino friends I have. Let’s say one of them owns the painting by some famous Filipino artist the other ones have to get that as well you know because it’s like you need to have it.
Derek: So, they need a piece from each of them.
Victoria: So if you say that you are an art collector here there are like certain artists which works you have to have in your collection you know it’s not even that you like it. You know you need to have it but it’s.
Derek: Which I think can happen to a lot of affluent art collectors anyway.
Victoria: So, it’s everywhere like that you know many people just buy because of the name you know not because of the painting itself they don’t care what is depicted in the painting. They just get it because it was it belonged to some family or it was painted by very famous artist that’s it you know but not about the painting.
Derek: And the Philippines often gets accused of favoring foreign products and foreign brands far more than their own which is quite common in most societies like to have a European something or an American something is regarded far higher. But in art you’re saying that’s it’s complete reversal in that they really have zero awareness or interest.
Victoria: No, it’s not about zero awareness, the real art collectors who collect for the love of art. They don’t really care what the names are. That’s what I faced here when I was organizing exhibitions, the art collectors the private ones. They tried to get in touch with art dealers on their own. They don’t attend those exhibitions anything and they just buy what they like and they don’t care even who was the painter like what kind of credentials the painter has. They really don’t care. These are the real lovers of art you know.
Victoria: The rest of people consider art more like investment.
Derek: Yeah. They still must consider the credentials though.
Victoria: Of course.
Derek: Because of art depreciation, isn’t it?
Victoria: Based on my own experience of organizing a couple of exhibitions in the Philippines. So, the I can make some conclusions that people were asking. First of all, the background of the painters and since I brought the very famous painters not only among Russian art market but the ones who are sold at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Saatchi Gallery at New York. So, they’re really high end painters and World-Wide famous. They have their works represented in many art galleries in Europe and many art auctions. So, that was very appealing for their local people. They were very interested but still they were not taking it as a piece of art. They needed to have a proof why the price of the painting is like this. Does the artist have enough credentials in order to pay that much money? So, it’s kind of contradictory you know. And if it’s Filipino artists they just buy it because it’s a famous one they don’t really question the price. But if it’s something new they want a lot of justifications why they need to pay that much for the painting and you need to provide them with lots of information. You know how popular the painter is.
Derek: Is it a similar price point? What are the, what are the elite Filipino artists pieces trading for? Is it quite out there, or is it?
Victoria: See if we talk about let’s say they are very famous. Currently living painter bank up you know here the prices will bank up. Amazing you know they’re highly amazing like they say they started from the small painting. It starts from a couple of hundred thousands and going up to several millions Pesos. We’re talking about Pesos. With Russian art with modern art if we’re talking about the classical art which is of 19th, 20th century of course we are talking about very high prices you know but with the modern art, it’s much lower than the local artist. The price is much lower. Yes, it’s much lower. Let’s say if you are famous in the Philippines you’ll start your price range from 300-400 thousand Pesos and going up with Russian art it’s probably up to. 500-600 Pesos. It’s the highest price. It says a lot from 150 and going up to 600 max.
Derek: So that have a few token foreign pieces but they wouldn’t invest heavily. It kind of makes me quite proud of Philippine support in the Filipino artists.
Victoria: No, no in this terms, I wish every country was like that you know supporting their own art. Because European art and basically Russian art Russian people at this point they really prefer something European something from abroad you know to have in their collection than to own their own painters the works of their own painters. In the Philippines, they are very, very, very much conservative in these terms. You know they really support their local artists.
Derek: I went to the art fair recently in March, I think in Manila. It’s actually quite impressive.
Victoria: I have not been this year but there have been the previous years you know it’s so it’s quite impressive really, it’s very different.
Derek: And I suppose just quickly and wrap up then can you compare the buying habits of Filipinos. Or is there a discernible difference in artists between Filipinos and maybe Hong Kong and Singapore or eons. Completely different, very similar.
Victoria: No, it’s I would say. It has of course similarities but there are a lot of differences as well with China, I think it’s a matter of trend as well you know with China and Hong Kong, it’s quite popular for the last like four or five years. Russian art became very popular and I know I have my own opinion about the reason of that. People really like Impressionist art and let’s say to own the real impressionists like French impressionist is you know painters. It costs a lot of money. And many people even if they’re rich they cannot still afford to get Monet, Renoir, you know sold. Along with those painters, Sotheby’s, Christie’s Saatchi gallery in other galleries they have the same impression art in the same style in the same trend but modern impressionist artists and they’re Russians mostly. So, it’s kind of I don’t know, cheating yourself. You know you buy a piece which looks like Monet but it’s not Monet but you still own something like Lily Pond or is looking very similar looking to Monet or and it’s like I said it’s classics.
Derek: That’s the complexity of art though, isn’t it? Because you could get a photocopy a Monet.
Victoria: Yeah that is a photocopy but that’s it you know oil on canvas which you can see the brush strokes you know and most of the art are modern art.
Derek: From the same period or modern?
Victoria: No, no not really. No, no, no, no. They are not recreations. I mean they are own works but they are written they are created in a way the impressionist style. Of course, the impressionist school was based basically all the roots are from France. And the school, the manner of painting the you know techniques everything they still follow they tried to introduce some innovations in the way they create their masterpieces but they’re very similar in general.
Derek: Okay. Because the Impressionist actually started off as rebels, didn’t they?
Victoria: Yeah, they were not really, they were not accepted by their society.
Derek: But, now is it a sort of is often the case. They are then becoming the, their process is becoming very regulated.
Victoria: Yeah, Yes. Something very classical will always be classical and I think impressionist art is the most classical of all the styles.
Derek: But it started off as the rebel of the.
Victoria: Now, it’s not you know it’s. It used to be, they, it was like kind of for. As I said it was not accepted by the society at all. In France, you know when they made the first impressionist exhibition it was rejected by society actually. But now it’s worldwide you know accepted as a common classic style of art.
Derek: And then I suppose just kind of like that question of the Filipinos and their buying habits compared to the rest of Southeast Asia a little bit similar a little bit, different.
Victoria: It’s a little bit similar but as I say like Hong Kong China it’s more about the trend. They love Russian art of this point. So, they invest into Russian art. With the Philippines since they have the country’s not really aware about Russia, Russian art. You know I think they are more closed market. And they’re more into being located in Asia. They are more into Asian art like Chinese art know Indonesian art.
Derek: And in regards to that, Do you see the elites of the Philippines hanging out with the elite of Singapore and Hong Kong and China? Is there a community or is it they’re still quite separate cultures?
Victoria: It’s very interesting in there, in Singapore or in Hong Kong, Filipino people are hanging out with the Filipino people living in those countries. So, it’s, it’s really quite close society.
Derek: There’s a very strong culture.
Victoria: Yes. And it’s why it’s quite rare what I’ve heard from many ex-pats who live here that the elite of Philippines doesn’t really accept ex-pats in their circle you know. It’s not that they have something against or something because they are very traditional and conservative. You know they prefer to hang out with their own crowd. And even in the countries it’s very strange because I have a lot of friends and let’s say I go to Switzerland. And when I go to Switzerland I’m introduced to the Filipino friends of my friends in Russia and they hang out only with the Filipino people living in Switzerland. The same with Hong Kong I go to Hong Kong most of the people are hanging out there besides work. They are all Filipinos because I have Filipino friends you know.
Derek: They are very proud and tight community.
Victoria: Yes, yes, yes they are you know they always keep together and they do support each other a lot.
Derek: Great. Thank you, Victoria.
Okay. Hope you enjoyed that with Victoria. Exploring a different side of Manila and the Philippines. If you want any information, if you want to get in touch with Victoria go to the show notes they found at outsourceaccelerator.com/podcast/episode30. See you next time.