Exposing Atasha and Andres to art auctions


 (The Philippine Star) |

Leon Gallery director Jaime Ponce de Leon (center) with the Muhlachs — (from left) Atasha, Charlene, Aga and Andres — during a preview of some of the best artworks at Leon Gallery

MANILA, Philippines – Aga Muhlach and Charlene Gonzales-Muhlach take the 15-year-young twins Atasha (who is into the arts) and Andres (who has this passion for basketball) to events of the art auction house Leon Gallery such as previews. This is to expose them to some of the best works of Filipino masters and contemporary artists like in the Kingly Treasures 2016 Auction on Dec. 3.

Taking the exceptional looks and appeal of their parents, Atasha and Andres can easily be showbiz royalties. But Aga and Charlene opt to let them grow up normally with formal education and exposure to the finer things in life. Their stylish Bali-inspired dream home in Mataas na Kahoy, Batangas displays the family’s extraordinary art collection and also Aga’s aviary of rare parrots.

“Aga has been a collector since the 1990s,” proudly reveals Leon Gallery director Jaime Ponce de Leon. “And he has exquisite taste not only for contemporary art but also for furniture and antiques. This is a very rare trait for a collector.”

It seems entertainers like Richard Gomez and Lucy Torres-Gomez with daughter Julianna, and Jasmine Curtis-Smith and boyfriend Jeff Ortega are turning auctions into public appearance opportunities.

Other art event frequenters are Gretchen Barretto, Julius Babao and Christine Bersola-Babao, Ces Drilon, Orestes Ojeda and Dindi Gallardo. Kuh Ledesma and Heart Evangelista had put artworks on the block.

For sure, auction events are excellent opportunities for rare artwork viewing and star sighting.


Team Gomez — Richard, Julianna and Lucy
Iza Calzado (third from left) previewed her Sabel sketch by Bencab with Hugo Bunzl, Rocky David, Jaime, Tats Manahan and Lisa Guerrero Nakpil
Heart Evangelista (second from left) has put under the hammer twice her paintings on luxury handbags and luggage. With her are Jaime, Dennis Robles, Derek Flores and Christian Leslie.
Gretchen Barretto (center) with (from left) Mimi Que and Orestes Ojeda
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Jaime Ponce de Leon is a man of auction


 (The Philippine Star) |

Surrounded by art: Jaime Ponce de Leon, Georgina Padilla, Betsy Westendorp and Paulino Que

I love art auctions and always look forward to attending a treasure hunt that can give one palpitations as the bidding goes in full swing. It’s such a thrill as well when there isn’t much competition and a beautiful item can be had at a fraction of the original cost.

As the real estate market continues to rise, along with the art market heating up, local auction houses have been wonderful venues to purchase high-quality, vetted art pieces.

Jaime Ponce de Leon’s Leon Gallery has been making inroads in the booming art market. Starting a career as an interior designer, the amiable and charming Ilonggo founded his company in 2010, specializing in historically important and museum-quality Philippine art  that included old masters, modern painters, and contemporary artists for his clients.

In 2012, an opportunity opened for Jaime when Prudentialife Plans Inc. needed to liquidate its art collection.  The sold-out session encouraged him to pursue the auction manner of selling and since then has had eight successful auctions with numerous world records on prices achieved by Philippine artists. Recently recognized by Blouin Art, the influential international magazine for art collectors, as among the 250 Best Auction Houses Worldwide for 2016, Leon Gallery holds the record of the highest sale of a single lot sold at auction in the Philippines.

Over the weekend, Leon Gallery once again awed auction goers and art enthusiasts alike as it assembled a most stunning collection of artworks, antiques, and objets d’art with unimpeachable provenance in its recent “Kingly Treasures 2016.” Highlighted pieces were from a wide range of periods that included Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo’s “La Inocencia” (1901) that has been in the possession of the Legarda family for over a century. National Artists BenedictoBenCab” Cabrera, H. R. Ocampo and Ang Kiukok, renowned artists Chabet, Fernando Zobel, Lao Lianben, Juvenal Sanso, Betsy Westendorp,contemporary artist Andres Barrioquinto, and other notable painters were also represented as we entered  the gallery’s halls during the preview. We were privileged to be surrounded by so many wonderful works of art.

The ever-charming Jaime enthused, “An auction is a very democratic manner of acquiring art, paired with the excitement of winning a bid for a coveted art piece.  I am a great admirer of beauty, hence beauty will always lie at the core of any Leon Gallery sale.  I feel fulfilled when clients are happy and when we go beyond expectations.”

Sonny Tinio, Marivic Vazquez and Fe Rodriguez
Lori Juvida, Hetty Que with Megan and Mimi Que, Paul Campos and Michelle Tomacruz
Ramon Orlina, Margot and Pinggoy Mañosa
Posing with a family heirloom “La Inocencia”: Carlos Jamora, Uku Legarda, Pit Legarda-Montinola, Ramon Legarda, Mauro Prieto and Grace Morales
Toto Gonzalez and Gus Vibal
Chicho Posada and Ernest Escaler
Paolo del Rosario and Lisa Nakpil
Serafin Pua, Rocky David, Aga Muhlach and AJ Violago

Leon Gallery is at Eurovilla 1, Rufino corner Legazpi Streets, Legazpi Village, Makati City.

For inquiries, call 856-2781 or email info@leon-gallery.com.

For comments and ideas, please email jacinto.fa@gmail.com.

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A rare Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo could be yours this weekend


Plus, you can also bid for masterpieces by Ang Kiukok, Amorsolo, Lao Lianben, and more.


Beauty is an abstract aspect of life where one finds hope—such as between the glowing lines of a Rothko. We find inspiration in the thick globs of Van Gough’s sunflowers, or redemption in the darkness that envelop a Caravaggio. Beauty begets generosity, because true beauty is something that we love to share, love to give, and love to receive.

Art, like beauty is a gift that is always welcome, but not what you might expect. In León Gallery’s Kingly Treasures, their final auction of the year, the gift of art is right at your fingertips, beckoning, cajoling, and tempting…assuming you have what it takes to beat the other bidders.

Alfonso Ossorio’s “Quadruplets”

“In Ossorio’s eyes, the embodiment of things seems fortuitous, as inessential as the fact, for example, that a gas may assume a liquid state. Each body seems to him as a spirit occasionally passing into a field where himan eyes can perceive it.” —Jean Dubuffet

Andres Barrioquinto’s “Silent Air”

“Silent Air,” with all its symbolic flora and fauna, allows it to portray an image that can seduce the viewer into looking closer into the transformation of a woman as she steps into the next stage of her life: marriage.

Ang Kiukok’s “Fish”

Save for the sheet of paper or foil underneath the fish, there are no other objects on the perceived table. Perhaps the artist wanted to focus on the subject as the lone leitmotif, given the intentional geometric mannerisms injected in the composition, such as the spiky, bony frame and teeth, or the circle at the center.

Buen Calubayan’s “Fressie Capulong”

Part of Calubayan’s groundbreaking 2012 exhibit, Fressie Capulong, this painting is one of 57 portraits juxtaposed to represent the subject’s complete life, perhaps her very identity. The image puts the viewer face-to-face with a woman who appears on the verge of a breakdown, her posture still composed, surrounded by a sea of gray.

Félix Resurrección Hidalgo’s “La Inocencia”

The centerpiece of the entire auction, this rare Hidalgo has been in the hands of the Legarda family since Benito Cosme Legarda y Tuason bought it from the artist himself. Painted in 1901, “La Inocencia” harkens back to the happiest years of the affluent and elegant Filipino painter who had fallen in love with his Spanish model, Maria Yrritia. The painting’s frame is a work of art on its own—supple, curling lily pads with upturned edges—designed by Isabelo Tampinco.

Fernando Amorsolo’s “La Siega”

In “La Siega,” Amorsolo chooses to portray a life that in 1961 was becoming less ordinary in the changing countryside. The life he chose to portray on canvas brims with good cheer, serenity, casual grace, and optimism. His colors are extremely vivid and as in most of Amorsolo’s work, has an intense, dream-like quality.

Hernando R. Ocampo’s “55-G The Wall”

Ocampo’s canvas has become a playground for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of childlike forms, and a manifestation of indigenous Filipino abstraction. The idea that painting needs no meaning other than a purely visual one appealed to Ocampo so much that he got to calling some of his works “visual melodies.”

Jose John Santos III’s “The Open Minded”

The man stares at the viewer while juggling, a mysterious window on his top hat may open into the unknown. Jose John Santos’ visual platform is that of a hyper (sur)realist, but is based on a distillation of subconscious reality—a formal, elevated representation of dreams and stream of consciousness.

Lao Lianben’s “Presence”

This work features a very strong play on contrast by the artist. The vast nothingness that exists behind the streaks of light adds to the brilliance of the otherwise faint beams, the luminescence of which gives us a glimpse to the very threshold between the tangible and intangible.

Elmer Borlongan’s “Mega Touch”

A blind masseuse presses the tired muscles of a man who evidently finds release and satisfaction with the massage. Whatever worry or disappointment has besieged him that day falls away at the moment of contact. With their round foreheads and steep jawlines, the figures of Borlongan continue to embody the life, dream, and aspiration of the Filipino everyman.

Kingly Treasures December Auction will be live on December 3. Leon Gallery is at G/F Eurovilla 1, Rufino corner Legazpi Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City or bid online at Leon-Gallery.com.

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Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo’s homage to youth and love


 (The Philippine Star) |

“La Inocencia” by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo is the star lot in Leon Gallery’s concluding auction for the year, the Kingly Treasures. Painted in Paris in 1901, the work features Maria Yrritia, the subject of Hidalgo’s art and ardor.

“La Inocencia” by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo is the star lot in Leon Gallery’s concluding auction for the year, the Kingly Treasures. Painted in Paris in 1901, the work features Maria Yrritia, the subject of Hidalgo’s art and ardor.


Any work by either Juan Luna or Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo that enters the art market is seen as a public event, a celebration. They are, after all, two of our foundational painters, and no collector who considers himself serious would let the opportunity to acquire a work by either of the two artists pass by. Works with questionable provenance if not outright forgeries, however, have recently crept into the market, and the art world has expectedly become cautious and vigilant.

A handful of paintings by the masters in private collection need not entail such complicated paperwork to establish their authenticity since they have been in the public eye all along, with people having — and recording — their memory of them. The provenance is so ironclad that the work might as well have emerged from a museum. Such a rarity is “La Inocencia” by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, the star lot in Leon Gallery’s concluding auction for the year, the Kingly Treasures, to be held on Dec. 3, Saturday, at the Leon Gallery, Eurovilla 1, Rufino corner Legazpi Sts., Legazpi Village, Makati City. No painting of such significance has emerged in recent memory.

“La Inocencia” is a portrait of Maria Yrritia which Hidalgo painted in Paris in 1901. She was the subject of Hidalgo’s art and ardor. After more than a century, she looks at us with liquid eyes, her lips as red as the flower that she holds. Swaddled in a yellow diaphanous dress, she holds a clutch of fabric by her waist, revealing the luminous skin of her one bare arm. A soft hollow nests below her throat. Her background is a forest rendered impressionistically, as though she has stepped from the world of dreams into ours. An artwork of its own, the frame was by Isabelo Tampinco, evoking a motif out of the flower in the painting.


“La Inocencia” was acquired by Benito Cosme Legarda y Tuason and his wife Teresa de la Paz viuda de Severo Tuason. For many years, it was the centerpiece of their grand home at 964 R Hidalgo Street, Manila.

“La Inocencia” was acquired by Benito Cosme Legarda y Tuason and his wife Teresa de la Paz viuda de Severo Tuason. For many years, it was the centerpiece of their grand home at 964 R Hidalgo Street, Manila.

Those who had the good fortune to dine at La Cocina de Tita Moning managed by Suzette Legarda Montinola in the Legarda-Hernandez ancestral mansion in San Miguel, Manila between 2000 to 2015 would have seen the painting. “La Inocencia” has never left the family. According to Augusto “Toto” M R Gonzalez III in the Kingly Treasures catalog, “‘La Inocencia’ was acquired by Felix Hidalgo’s friend, contemporary, and neighbor Benito Cosme Legarda y Tuason and his wife Teresa de la Paz viuda de Severo Tuason. It was for many years the cynosure of the large “sala” of “La Casa Grande,” their storied residence at # 964 R Hidalgo Street…

“It was at ‘La Casa Grande’  that they raised their three children Consuelo, Benito III, and Rita. Benito III ‘Bitong’ married Filomena ‘Nena’ Roces y Gonzalez; Consuelo ‘Titang’ married Mauro Prieto y Gorricho; and Rita ‘Chata’ married 1) L. James Donaldson-Sim and 2) Dr. Benito Valdes y Salvador, thus completing the interrelations of four of Old Manila’s most prominent families, the Tuason-Legarda-Prieto-Valdes clan.

“Benito III ‘Bitong’ Legarda y de la Paz married Filomena ‘Nena’ Roces y Gonzalez and had seven children:  Benito IV ‘Ben’ married Trinidad Fernandez; Rosario ‘Bombona’ married Dr. Basilio Valdes; Dr. Alejandro “Mandu” married 1) Carmen Tuason  and 2) Ramona ‘Moning’ Hernandez; Teresa ‘Titic’;  Filomena ‘Menang’; Beatriz married Alfredo ‘Pocholo’ Gonzales; Jose ‘Pepito’ married Rosario ‘Charing’ Lobregat.”

Since 1938, it occupied pride of place at the Legarda-Hernandez ancestral mansion in San Miguel, Manila. It was the highlight of La Cocina de Tita Moning, the exclusive restaurant that prepared heirloom recipes, which ran between 2000 to 2015.

Since 1938, it occupied pride of place at the Legarda-Hernandez ancestral mansion in San Miguel, Manila. It was the highlight of La Cocina de Tita Moning, the exclusive restaurant that prepared heirloom recipes, which ran between 2000 to 2015.

The painting was bequeathed to “Benito ‘Bitong’ Legarda y de la Paz and Filomena ‘Nena’ Roces y Gonzalez. It passed on to his son Dr Alejandro ‘Mandu’ Legarda y Roces married to 1) Carmen Tuason  and 2)  Ramona Hernandez. Dr. Alejandro ‘Mandu’ installed it in the living room of his 1938 Andres Luna de San Pedro (or Pablo Antonio)-designed Art Deco-style house at # 315 San Rafael Street, San Miguel, Manila.”

Jaime Ponce de Leon, director of Leon Gallery, could not help but be ecstatic with this once-in-a-lifetime find. “When I personally retrieved the work from the sala of the Legarda Mansion in San Miguel district, my heart was pounding with the immense joy at being the custodian of this masterpiece till it finds its way to its new owner,” he says. “It has hung on the same wall since 1938 when Don Alejandro Legarda moved to the exclusive neighborhood around Malacañan Palace.”

Unlike the woman in the painting, the model, Maria Yrritia, met a tragic end. When Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo brought her to Manila, she was rejected by the painter’s mother, Barbara Padilla de Resurreccion Hidalgo. The couple would never set foot together again in Manila.

When the painter died some 30 years later, Maria Yrritia accompanied “his remains and belongings back to Manila,” says Gonzales. “She boarded a ship bound for Spain but never made it back as the ship sunk off South Africa.” But in “La Innocencia,” Hidalgo’s muse is forever young, brimming with vitality and innocence, provoked to a soft smile as she puts a flower near her lips by her dear Felix.

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Young artists and contemporary works featured in December auction
/ 08:00 AM November 28, 2016
Solomon Saprid’s “Tikbalang”

Solomon Saprid’s “Tikbalang”


For its Kingly Treasures December auction, León Gallery has rounded up a sizeable collection of contemporary works by the foremost young artists of today.

Formal bidding will be held on Dec. 3, 2 p.m., at Eurovilla 1, Rufino and Legazpi Sts., Legazpi Village, Makati City.

An important piece is Rodel Tapaya’s 2007 acrylic-on-burlap “Adyos,” which displays a heavily detailed brooding subject and dissonant colors. It has a starting bid of P300,000.

Undoubtedly one of the preeminent artists of his generation, Buen Calubayan has two paintings on sale. His oil-on-canvas “Fressie Capulong”—a portrait of a woman who appears to be on the verge of a breakdown—is being auctioned off starting at P600,000.

Poklong Anading’s 2007 cement-on-board “Drawing Straight Circle” No.4, defined by a whirlpool of saturated gray, has a starting bid of P100,000.

“Drawing Straight Circle” No.4, by Poklong Anading

“Drawing Straight Circle” No.4, by Poklong Anading

Meanwhile, José John Santos III’s 2006 oil-on-canvas “The Open Minded” has the artist’s trademark surreal feel. Starting price is P1 million.

Another sought-after piece is Andres Barrioquinto’s 2016 oil-on-canvas “Silent Air,” which features a pale woman with a head full of butterflies. Bidding starts at P1.4 million.

Andres Barrioquinto’s “Silent Air”

Andres Barrioquinto’s “Silent Air”

Luis Lorenzana’s 2008 oil-on-canvas “Mother and Child” presents a very common subject with a peculiar twist. Bidding begins at P160,000.

Also a significant piece is Ronald Ventura’s untitled oil-on-canvas painting, which shows a human head with the image of a horse on top of it. Initial bidding is P600,000.

“Mother and Child,” by Luis Lorenzana

“Mother and Child,” by Luis Lorenzana


Solomon Saprid’s 1975 brass sculpture “Tikbalang” has a starting bid of P500,000. Meanwhile, Ramon Orlina’s glass abstraction “Family Bonding” has a starting price of P140,000.

“Family Bonding,” by Ramon Orlina

“Family Bonding,” by Ramon Orlina

National Artist Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera’s untitled brass sculpture is being sold starting at P300,000.

“Untitled,” by Benedicto Cabrera

“Untitled,” by Benedicto Cabrera

Team León

Leon Gallery has been recently named by the prestigious listing Blouin Art as one of the top 250 auction houses in the world.

Gallery director Jaime Ponce de León expressed pleasure at the listing.

“Our aim to get the very best results for our partners and clients has been fully credited   especially having sold the highest for a single lot at auction in the Philippines,” Ponce de León said. “I take this recognition in behalf of Team León, and we send our sincere thanks to our clients and consignors for their full confidence with us.” —CONTRIBUTED
Read more: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/245622/leon-among-worlds-top-250-auction-houses-says-blouin/#ixzz4RZAjRaTf
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Dinner with the Rockefellers amid splendor of Old Manila

By: Cathy Cañares-Yamsuan – @inquirerdotnetPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 03:22 AM November 25, 2016


ACC trustee David Rockefeller Jr. in a private moment with wife Susan Cohn Rockefeller

ACC trustee David Rockefeller Jr. in a private moment with wife Susan Cohn Rockefeller


Imagine fine dining with the country’s best emerging artists in a palatial jewel box right at the heart of Old Manila.

Organizers of the Asian Cultural Council Philippine Foundation, Inc.’s (ACCPF) 15th anniversary celebration scored high when they chose Ayuntamiento de Manila as venue for the introduction of David Rockefeller Jr. and Wendy O’Neill, scions of one of America’s most prominent families, to Filipino artist scholars of the organization on Nov, 17.

The historic building, a stone’s throw from the Manila Cathedral, now houses the Bureau of Treasury.


It served as the country’s premier seat of legislation during the Spanish times. It also housed the Bureau of Justice and later, the Supreme Court before suffering great damage during World War II.

A series of restorations followed and was eventually completed in 2013.

Now tucked inside its neoclassical facade is a red-carpeted staircase that leads to an impressive function room with a black-and-white checkered marble floor, pristine white walls and high ceiling with majestic crystal chandeliers.

In this perfect setting for a fairytale wedding or a debutante’s ball, ACCPF’s guests who included business tycoons, philanthropists and at least one National Artist were feted to an evening of music.

Fine crystal and china were laid out on tables covered with red brocade. Cibo di M served smoked kesong puti sformato, followed by pan-seared Bohol white marlin with classic saffron risotto and capped with a tiramisu milhojas.

The Philippine Madrigal Singers, whose performance received a minute-long standing ovation

The Philippine Madrigal Singers, whose performance received a minute-long standing ovation


Philippine Madrigal Singers

Rockefeller, a one-time chorister of the Cantata Singers in Boston, watched in admiration as the Philippine Madrigal Singers serenaded guests with a medley of songs rearranged to highlight the expert blending of the artists’ voices.

Carissa Adea, ACC grantee for dance in 2014, performed a breathtaking ballet/modern dance number set to an arrangement by fellow ACC scholar for music Teresa Barrozo. Adea’s barely there costume was fashioned by ACC grantee for visual arts Leeroy New “from found materials at Harrison Plaza” just hours before the dinner.

ACCPF chair Ernest Escaler said ACC and the Rockefellers have been giving grants to deserving Filipino artists since 1965. “To date, we have given close to 190 grants through the years. From 1965 to 2000, ACC gave roughly 80 grants and since ACCPF was established, we have given 111 grants in the last 15 years,” he said.

Escaler singled out Jaime Ponce de Leon of León Gallery as “our biggest benefactor.”

Rockefeller and ACC chair O’Neill stressed the importance of continued global and national support for arts and culture—a message not lost on the ACCPF trustees present, who included Ching Cruz, Joven Cuanang, Malu Gamboa, Josie Natori, Isabel Wilson, Louie Locsin, Rajo Laurel, Dedes Zobel and Maribel Ongpin.


The shiny black pieces of the chessboardmarble floor is like tranquilwater that mirrors the goings-on in the Ayuntamiento’smain hall.

The shiny black pieces of the chessboardmarble floor is like tranquilwater that mirrors the goings-on in the Ayuntamiento’smain hall.


Washington Sycip, ACC chairWendy O’ Neill

Washington Sycip, ACC chairWendy O’ Neill


Asian Cultural Council Philippine Foundation, Inc. and ACC New York trustee Josie Natori, Tessie Sy-Coson, ACC trustee David Rockefeller Jr., ACC chairWendy O’ Neill

Asian Cultural Council Philippine Foundation, Inc. and ACC New York trustee Josie Natori, Tessie Sy-Coson, ACC trustee David Rockefeller Jr., ACC chairWendy O’ Neill


Dee Zobel, Asian Cultural Council chairWendy O’ Neill

Dee Zobel, Asian Cultural Council chairWendy O’ Neill


Asian Cultural Council Philippines Foundation chair Ernest Escaler

Asian Cultural Council Philippines Foundation chair Ernest Escaler

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Leon Gallery Highlights 19th Century Filipino Art Masterpieces


By Franz Sorilla on Jul 05, 2016

Significant pieces of ivory, furniture, and paintings of the 19th Century Filipino masters take the spotlight in the ongoing special exhibition at Leon Gallery entitled, “Filipinos in the Gilded Age”.

Paintings by Juan Luna, Fabian de la Rosa, Felix and Martinez among others

Philippines circa 1800s is a period that Filipinos deem opulent even up to now. It was a significant period of industrialization where a class of people became affluent with great success in business before the onset of the Philippine revolution. The period had a certain sense of style and class that catapulted certain privileged Filipino personalities to the global scene. This month, Leon Gallery proudly celebrates this significant period of Philippine artistic excellence with an exhibition entitled, “Filipinos in the Gilded Age,” curated by Ramon N. Villegas, Lisa Guerrero Nakpil, and Tats Rejante Manahan.

The room in perimmon red with Batangas altar tables and ivory artefacts

Inspired by the studio of Juan Luna in Paris, the exhibition space was coloured with hues of choice during the said period. Caca d’oie became the basis for the olive green color of the walls were the paintings are hung. Underneath is yellow ochre in strie finish, parted by hand painted chair rail in marble finish. These details pay tribute to the revival of painted finishes. The room were the ivory and the furniture displayed is in light persimmon red.

A repatriation of highly coveted ivory artefacts are also on display. Back then, ivory were sourced from Thailand then brought to the Philippines. A great number of these religious ivory pieces were designed by Chinese carvers in the Philippines and were shipped to Spain. The exhibition brings home these valuable pieces of the nation’s grandeur.

A seascape painting by Felix Ressureccion Hidalgo hung on top of a Batangas altar table

An outstanding selection of antique wood furniture also take the spotlight. Not only do these pieces bring a more classical look and feel to one’s homes, but it also create a deeper appreciation for the local heritage. Among the key pieces to look forward to at the exhibit are the two Batangas altar tables with refined carving and the Manila aparador made fromkamagong with lanite marquetry. These pieces hold premium resale value, transforming these unique pieces into important investments in the eyes of collectors.

Lastly, painted portraits became prevalent as the 19th century became an age of individuality. These placed Filipino artists like Fabian de la Rosa and Rafael Enriquez in the limelight. The exhibit showcases a number of portraits and paintings by these indio bravos. One of the more important paintings that can be seen is the portrait by Felix Martinez of a figure thought to be one of the models of Jose Rizal’s Kapitan Tiago in Noli Me Tangere, then Chinese-Filipino businessman Don Alfonso Telesforo Chuidian. Another important piece is the painting by Juan Luna of a woman in black assumed to be the then Queen Regent Maria Christina of Spain. Philippine and European sceneries painted by Felix Ressureccion Hidalgo, along with other artists, can also be seen in the exhibition.

Leon Gallery’s “Filipinos in the Gilded Age” will be exhibited by appointment viewing until July 20, 2016. Leon Gallery is located at G/F Corinthian Plaza, Paseo de Roxas corner Gamboa Sts., Legazpi Village, Makati. For more information, contact Leon Gallery at +632-8562781 or info@leon-gallery.com. Like or follow @LeonGalleryMakati on Facebook and Instagram.


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Spectacular auction results for Rizal sculpture, ‘Botong,’ Saguil, Ang Kiukok, Barrioquinto


By:  | @inquirerdotnet

ARGUABLY the most important auction of León Gallery, “Spectacular Mid-Year Auction 2016” saw for the first time in history an artwork by National Hero José Rizal put on the auction block.

After fierce bidding, Rizal’s “Jabali,” a small sculpture of a wild boar made of plaster, was sold for a staggering P16.35 million.

Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera’s 1998 acrylic-on-canvas “Isadora in Motion” fetched P37.38 million.

Also an important piece was Carlos “Botong” Francisco’s 1960 oil-on-canvas “Pista ng Angono,” which was sold for P30.37 million.

CARLOS “Botong” Francisco’s “Pista ng Angono” (1960); sold for P30.37 million.

Anita Magsaysay-Ho’s near-surreal “Cocktail,” set against expressionist brushstrokes, was sold for P3.50 million. The artist’s other painting, “The Good Life,” fetched P3.97 million.

Nena Saguil’s 1953 oil-on-wood “Barrio Mother and Child,” a rare representational work from the abstractionist master, was sold for a whopping P14.02 million.

NENA Saguil’s “Barrio Mother and Child” on the cover of auction catalogue; sold for P14.02 million.

Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo’s oil-on-canvas “Chateau d’If” was bought for P12.85 million.

Also a noteworthy piece was Ang Kiukok’s 2004 oil-on-canvas “Harvest,” created just a year before the artist’s death in 2005. It was sold for P17.52 million.

ANG KIUKOK’S “Harvest” (2004); sold for P17.52 million.

Cesar Legaspi’s 1979 oil-on-wood “Three Nudes,” an abstraction of the human figure, fetched P3.74 million.

Moreover, Fernando Amorsolo’s 1956 oil-on-canvas “Winnowing Rice” fetched P5.37 million. His other painting done the same year, “Musicos Nativos,” was sold for P3.04 million.

Ang Kiukok’s 1997 oil-on-canvas “Cockfight,” which showcases the artist’s depiction of gladiatorial roosters, fetched P16.35 million.

Contemporary works

Andres Barrioquinto’s 2016 oil-on-canvas “The Kiss,” which explores the mind’s garden at the instance of a kiss, was bought for P9.11 million.

ANDRES Barrioquinto’s “The Kiss”; sold for P9.11 million

Ronald Ventura’s 2001 oil-on-canvas “Void,” considered one of the most important works of the artist, fetched P8.18 million. In the painting, the male nude is in motion, seemingly running away into a darkness where his head disappears.

Onib Olmedo’s 1992 “Concert in the Alley (Concert dans L’lmpasse),” ink wash on paper mounted on board, was sold for P3.74 million.

Mauro Malang Santos’ 1992 oil-on-canvas “Tres Marias,” which uses colors to indicate form rather than recognizable forms themselves, was sold for P6.42 million.


The Hizon Aparador, from the second quarter of the 19th century, was sold for P1.05 million.

Social historian Martin Imperial Tinio Jr. says the Hizon Aparador is one of the major pieces of furniture in the Antonio Bantug Collection. It was acquired by him after the Liberation of Manila in 1945.

The Bantug Vitrines, which stands on four tapering square legs ending in spade feet, fetched P2.57 million.

Nazareno in Virina, from the first half of the 19th century, was sold for P3.27 million. This particular piece has ivory face, hands and feet attached to a wooden mannequin clothed in gold-embroidered velvet.



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Fabulous works by Luna and 19th-century masters ‘repatriated’



By:  | @inquirerdotnet

PIÈCE de résistance: 19th-century painting by unknown artist of controversial 1887 Philippine Expo in Madrid

WHEN it was mounted last February by León Gallery, “Alfonso Ossorio: Afflictions of Glory” was already seen as the biggest art event of 2016. But León may have outdone that with “Filipinos in the Gilded Age,” its new exhibit of late-19th-century paintings, sacred sculptures and furniture, including heretofore locally unviewed works by Luna and Hidalgo, displaying Philippine achievements in fine arts and design before the American invasion.

Also on display are magnificent paintings by Felix Martinez, Rafael Enriquez, Miguel Zaragoza and Manuel Espiritu.

So formidable are the artworks that curating is shared by the formidable troika of Ramon Villegas, Lizza Guerrero Nakpil and Liliane “Tats” Manahan.


Manahan additionally tackles the interior requirements of the important exhibit by recreating Juan Luna’s atelier in Paris. “León Gallery has taken this thrust of converting the exhibition space into an immersive environment to enhance the ‘feel’ for the paintings,” she explained.

However, perhaps the most fascinating item in the exhibit is by an unidentified painter—“Habitantes Indigenos ante de la Reina Regente en la Exposicion General de las Yslas Filipinas de Madrid, 1887”—showing non-Christian indigenous Filipinos being presented to the Queen Regent during the controversial Philippine international expo in Madrid in 1887.

But that’s getting ahead of the story.


PABELLON de Cristal, where the 1887 Philippine Exposition in Madrid was held. José Rizal and Antonio Luna condemned the display of indigenous non-Christian Filipinos in the fair, but Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo exhibited works that were highly acclaimed by Europeans.


The paintings that dominate the exhibit are mainly “repatriated” art, as Nakpil put it.

Gallery owner Jaime Ponce de León explained that the “paintings and ivory were owned by Europeans, not Filipinos. The furniture came from old Filipino families.”

“The paintings and ivory came from the private collections of gentlemen in Spain and France,” he added.

Repatriation owes to volatile market forces that have unsettled the so-called Old World, resulting for example in the 2008 meltdown whose effects continue to bedevil the globe, as shown by the British vote to exit from the European Union over the weekend.

“As a result of what can be called a ‘reversal of fortunes,’ call it happy economic happenstance,” said Ponce de León. “Filipinos are now in the position to bring home the many treasures that were originally commissioned by Europeans.”

“There is no better reason than that,” the León Gallery owner stressed to explain the new trend of “repatriated art.”

Still, it takes expert research to determine which art to be repatriated.

“The discovery or uncovering of all these various pieces have been the product of several years’ travel, detective work, even casual, unintended conversations that have led to these treasures,” explained Ponce de León.

In his essay for the exhibit “The Last Word,” Ponce de León cites “The Butterfly Effect” (the theory that “the gentle flap of a butterfly wing can change the air around it and cause a tornado halfway around the world”) as having aided him in his “voyage of discovery.”

For example, marooned in Europe for several days because an “obscure volcano” in Iceland had erupted and released particles in the atmosphere so as to ground flights of 10 million people in 2010, the León proprietor writes he was led to a “stunning” Filipino painting of an interior scene.

In Brussels later on, casual conversations with shopkeepers around the ancient Sablon district led him to a chic address that locals said belonged “to a certain Fabian de la Rosa.” He found the address and immediately spotted a beautiful painting there by the Filipino master belonging to the descendant of a Belgian diplomat assigned to Manila before the war.

“HARANA,” by Manuel Espiritu

Tribute to collectors

For the work of recovery, Villegas credited the León owner’s intrepidity—as well as the Internet.

“The Internet enabled us to learn so much about the 19th century so quickly,” said Villegas. “It was a matter of knowing which thread to pick up and follow. It’s the same with modern travel which has permitted certain people, Jaime just being the youngest and most intrepid, to access and reacquire Philippine art from our former colonizers.”

Ponce de León said his dogged discovery and recovery of Philippine art was inspired by other, more senior collectors.

“Gilded Age,” in fact, is “my personal tribute to the great Filipino collectors, from Don Alfonso Ongpin, Dr. José Bantug, Teyet Pascual, Arturo de Santos, Luis Araneta, to Jaime Laya and Paulino and Hetty Que.”

“These collectors paved the way for our appreciation and understanding today of Philippine history and art,” Ponce de León added.

EXHIBIT evokes the studio of Luna in Paris. ELOISA LOPEZ

1887 Madrid Expo

Visitors to “Filipinos in the Gilded Age” will be greeted by the fascinating unsigned painting “Indigenous Inhabitants Before the Queen Regent at the General Exposition of the Philippines Islands, Madrid, 1887.”

In his essay on the painting, Villegas writes that the painting is “perhaps a study for a larger work.” He adds that the “unidentified painter had surely been there, for he captures the moment,” even depicting “the young lowland Christian girls in trajes de mestizas, dressed with sheer embroidered fabric on the upper half of their bodies, and voluminous bright-red skirts.”

The girls seem to be gaping at their fellow but non-Christian Filipinos from what we now call as cultural communities or indigenous people as the latter pay obeisance to the Queen Regent Maria Cristina. The elders are shown wearing G-strings but over their short pants, apparently so as not to scandalize polite Madrid society.

But curiously at the back of the group are two young Ifugao warriors who seem to stand defiantly in their loincloths sans shorts. According to Villegas “they remain erect”—proudly standing and “not really into bowing down” to the Spanish royal.

The Madrid Expo was largely a defensive move on the part of Spain to ward off other European powers from grabbing her possessions amid the sudden rush for colonies in the 19th century (e.g. the “Scramble for Africa”).

The exposition was designed to show the Philippines as an example of enlightened colonization by Spain, the better for other colonial wannabes to stop making excuses of “manifest destiny” and “bringing liberty to the captives” to mask their naked imperial ambitions.

Made to exhibit their works in the fine arts section of the expo were Luna and Hidalgo, who had won first-class gold and silver medals in the 1883 National Fine Arts Exposition.

Just two years before the Madrid exposition, Spain had nearly lost the Carolines and Palau island in the Pacific to Germany and was able to maintain them only through papal arbitration.

“FILIPINOS in the Gilded Age” exhibit seeks to show a balanced, more objective view of the Hispanic, European heritage of the Philippines, as shown in Hidalgo’s magnum opus, “Seascape”

Juan Luna y Novicio

These were the same islands that Governor-General Primo de Rivera put under Philippine dependency in 1881 and, having fostered relative stability and progress for the Philippines, resigned his position in 1883, but not after approving the scholarship of the young Filipino artist named Juan Luna y Novicio for his studies in Rome.

The scholarship carried with it an annual emolument of P1,000, Luna’s only obligation being he had to finish two paintings for the Manila ayuntamiento.

As it turned out, the ayuntamiento provided scholarships of P600 to promising students to study in Europe but with the obligation of finishing four paintings for the government. This should show that the fine arts was much prized in the colony.

Contrary to ultranationalist histories, the Philippines toward the end of the 19th century was a progressive country amid a backward Asia being overrun by colonists.

Manila was considered a center of culture and progress in the continent. It was linked to Europe by a direct monthly maritime service and by four indirect lines through Hong Kong. There were weekly vessels between Manila and Hong Kong. Volume of exports and imports was some P50 million annually.

Manila had a European-style higher education institution, the University of Santo Tomas, which enjoyed all the rights and privileges of similar universities in Spain and Europe. The Philippines likewise had three secondary schools; five professional schools; five conciliar seminaries; four schools of superior studies; 30 public schools in Manila alone.

There were also an academy of painting and drawing, a navy school, several training schools for soldiers and social workers.

There were 10 normal schools for girls (including the still-existing Santa Isabel, Concordia, La Consolacion, Santa Catalina, Santa Rosa) and a school for midwives (under UST’s medicine faculty).

The hospital and social welfare system was vastly superior to North America’s, as later discovered by the American invaders themselves.

19th-century furniture. ELOISA LOPEZ

‘Barbarians at the gate’

In the exhibit notes, it is pointed out it would be “an insult to our ancestors” that Philippine civilizational achievements “occurred only upon the instigation and imposition of colonial masters.”

After all, Filipinos were likewise “fired by the Habsburg imagination” and “admired the beauty of the Baroque and the Rococo.” They likewise “made tangible the persons of Jesus and Mary” through their churches and shrines and “comprehended the ideas of the Greco-Roman world.”

Filipinos might have been able to grasp the same cosmological notions and achieve the same civilizational successes, but Spain refused to grant them the political rights enjoyed by Europeans and continued to treat them as a colony. Radical nationalists have since hit back and written off Hispano-Catholic and European heritage and, along with that, the achievements of Luna, Hidalgo and the hijos de pais.

León Gallery’s new exhibit rues how modern Filipinos have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. It laments that because of their rabid nationalism, Filipino identity and heritage have been jettisoned. Result is the loss of the Filipino soul.

That is why “Filipinos in the Gilded Age” is specifically addressed to the millennials. “Because taste is not automatically passed on at birth,” said Villegas. “The next generation has to be taught how to be couth and cultured.”

But: “The fact that the task now falls on our shoulders does not mean we are better or more learned. My dears, we are simply older!”

Villegas laughed: “Is it too much to say, ‘Man the gates! The barbarians are upon us!’”

POTRAITS of European personages like Queen Regent Maria Cristina painted by Luna and other local masters.

To be concluded

“Filipinos in the Gilded Age” is running at León Gallery, G/F, Corinthian Plaza, 120 Paseo de Roxas, Legaspi Village, Makati, till July 20, Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Visitors are advised to arrange for an appointment so that a curator can be present by calling 8562781.

Follow the author on Twitter @litozulueta

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A booming art market


By:  | @inquirerdotnet

THERE’S A booming art market that’s defying political and economic downturns for the past 10 years in the Philippines. A renaissance of sorts is happening in the local art scene.

A growing number of art collectors are fueling the boom. Their ranks include businesspersons, corporate executives, doctors, lawyers, actors, sportspersons, and politicians.

Galleries that cater to the rising demand for art have sprouted in increased numbers in Metro Manila and in several provincial cities. And it is common to encounter sold-out art exhibitions even of very young artists.

When P46 million was paid by the Government Service Insurance System for a painting it purchased at a 2002 auction in Hong Kong, a collective gasp arose from those shocked and awed at the fortune spent for a single painting. But the price was for a 110-year-old artwork painted by the highly acclaimed Filipino hero Juan Luna. Since then, a number of artworks painted by other Filipino artists, some of whom are still alive, have been sold for tens of millions of pesos.

Last year, paintings by National Artist Benedicto “Bencab” Cabrera and by Anita Magsaysay Ho were sold for P46.7 million and P52 million, respectively, both at a local auction house, Leon Auctions.

Also last year, another painting by Luna was sold for P46.72 million and one by National Artist H. R. Ocampo was purchased for P36 million, both at another local auction house, Salcedo Auctions.

Just last June 11, Leon Auctions sold for P30 million a relatively small work (20 by 30 inches) of National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco, while a small sculpture (six inches in height) of a wild boar that was made by National Hero Jose Rizal was sold for P16 million.

A relatively young Filipino artist, Ronald Ventura, is making waves in international art auctions. In 2011, when he was only 38 years old, his painting titled “Grayground” fetched P47 million at an auction in Hong Kong. From 2011 to early 2016, at least eight Ventura paintings were sold at Sotheby’s and Christie’s international auctions at prices ranging from P33 million to P47 million each.

Several other Filipino artists who are only in their 30s and 40s have had their works sold at local and international auctions at prices ranging from P5 million to P10 million—prices that rival those of some national artists.

The soaring prices of the works of Filipino artists are the result of the entry into the scene of art buyers with varying intentions: 1) those who can finance a hobby of competing to collect market-popular artworks; 2) those who consider artworks as investments that can be sold for higher prices in the future; 3) those who want to hang on their walls sought-after paintings as visual evidence of financial success; and 4) those who are motivated by a combination of two or more of the earlier mentioned intentions. Then there is the growing interest of foreign collectors in Philippine art.

Critics ridicule this money-driven direction of Philippine art where auction results are given highlighted importance. They disdain the view that sales success validates artistic excellence instead of the other way around. They lament the fact that artists they consider with more talent—and who do not compromise their artistic outputs to cater to the commercial taste of the moneyed audience—are not receiving the attention and patronage they deserve.

On the other hand, it is argued that the market-oriented direction of Philippine art is the result of the shortage of publications that impartially discuss the artistic merits and demerits of the body of works of artists. And the few scholarly writings that are available use highfalutin’ words and concepts that give the ordinary reader a migraine.

There is indeed an insufficiency of publications that present no-holds-barred commentaries on yearly exhibitions of Filipino artists. Government institutions like the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, as well as private art foundations, should support scholarly publications and give awards to deserving art writers. Critics must be given support and incentives to encourage publication of excellent writings that will exert influence and play pivotal roles in wresting back control of the direction of art in this country.

Longtime art collectors warn new collectors against falling into the habit of collecting with their ears and not with their eyes—a reference to the predilection of new collectors to buy paintings on the strength of gossip as to which artists are market-hot. Veteran collectors cite artists who had boom runs of a few years but who subsequently went bust.

New collectors should also beware that if they quickly resell artworks, they will be branded as “speculators” by the close-knit band of artists and galleries, and they will have a hard time buying an artwork again. Sotheby’s art specialist Shea Lam observes that this is an amusing peculiarity of the Philippine art market.

While the Philippine art market is booming, the bigger art markets of China and Indonesia, as well as of the European countries, are experiencing downturns following dips in their economies and market correction on speculative art prices. With the coming change in administration in the Philippines and the uncertainties in the local and international economies, it remains to be seen if the Philippine art market will be as resilient as it has been for the past 10 years.

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