Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael—three titanic names in the history of Western art that are indelibly etched in the minds of every Humanities student. All three names have one thing in common: They comprised what is now known as the High Renaissance, which flourished in the entire Italian region in the 15th century.
To be sure, the word renaissance, which means “rebirth,” could not be bettered as the name of an art gallery. In an instant, the word, rich with historical meaning and emotion, signifies the highest aspiration of humanity and its search for artistic excellence.
Thus when the couple Noli and Agnes Romero decided to open an art gallery, it was christened, by mutual agreement, Renaissance. That was way back in 2003.
This year, Renaissance Art Gallery celebrates a decade of existence, a feat in itself in the highly competitive world of Philippine art marketing.
And what a journey it has been!
Love for art
For Noli Romero, life has been fueled by his love for art. Even as a young child, he was constantly drawing, and winning prizes, to boot.
He studied at Don Bosco from elementary to high school. At the chapel hung the Stations of the Cross paintings by the country’s great muralist, Carlos “Botong” Francisco, which held him spellbound.
Like many young men who aspired to take up art studies, Noli was dissuaded by his father, who insisted that his son pursue a more practical course. Noli then studied political science at Far Eastern University.
Noli subscribes to the belief that every stage of life that leads to another eventually culminates in one’s true calling, where events seem to align and fall in the right place.
Thus, through years of work in the stock market, commodities trading, the think-tank of Makati Mayor Nemeso Yabut, co-incorporation with other galleries, and the jewelry business conjugally managed for a stretch of 16 years, the Romero couple found themselves at a turning point in their life.
Indeed, while engaged in these various endeavors, Noli has at the same time been dealing with artworks. Precious is the memory of his first purchase—a Manansala bought in 1989; and later a serendipitous discovery of a collector’s trove of works that risked moldering while in storage.
Thus the establishment of Renaissance Gallery was an unexpected blessing. The space had been offered to another dealer who, for some reason, had to decline and then suggested to Noli to take over.
The rest, as we say, is history.
Looking back, with justifiable pride, Noli and Agnes have exhibited an exceptionally varied assembly of artworks, from the masters down to the young “unknowns” fresh from art schools.
To their credit, they have helped launched, indeed, “birthed,” the careers of artists who have become major award-winners, among whom are Max Balatbat, Sio Montera, Aner Sebastian, Ronaldo Ruiz, Orley Ypon, Felix Catarata, Jojo Austria, Benjie Bisaya, Josef Laureano, Fitz Herrera.
Promoting the artist’s works abroad, mainly in New York, Renaissance Gallery mounted works, in partnership with Toots Tolentino Communications Group.
(Recall that it was the indomitable Tolentino who, against all odds, managed to bring over from New York the artworks of the late lamented Beatle John Lennon, meeting Yoko Ono herself.)
Renaisance Gallery has also collaborated with some of the country’s top interior designers, supplying choice artworks to such projects as Crown Regency Hotels (Makati and Cebu), Traders Hotel Manila, Hotel Dominique Tagaytay, Eton and Shangri-la Properties.
After 10 years, Noli and Agnes Romero still regard their love affair with art as a lifetime commitment, with each show a continuing search for the masters of tomorrow.
Cid Reyes is the author of coffee-table books on National Artists Arturo Luz, Bencab, J. Elizalde Navarro and Napoleon Abueva. He received a Best in Art Criticism Award from the Art Association of the Philippines.