Ang Kiukok’s “Fishermen,” signed and dated 1981, and easily one of the biggest oil-on-canvas works by the National Artist, will be auctioned off on June 10 by Léon Gallery.
Léon owner Jaime Ponce de Léon says that, at 40 by 80 inches, the work is “impressively sized” and notably belongs to the period that art critics agree was Ang’s most productive and most creative—the ’80s.
The painting shows three fishermen hauling a netful of fishes in a display of brawn and dynamism. Overall, the image represented what Ponce de Léon called as “the bounty of life.”
The artist signed his first name, “Kiukok,” on the upper left, but his Chinese surname seems missing, until one realizes, with some shock, that the three fishermen have been so composed as to spell out “ANG.”
Bidding starts at P12 million.
Ang’s mentor at the University of Santo Tomas—National Artist Vicente Manansala—is represented in the auction with a very striking work, “Pila sa Bigas” (1979).
“Manansala was the most successful artist of his generation,” Ponce de Léon notes. “This work was among the most major pieces the artist created during that period—and is a masterpiece of the highest level.”
Bidding starts also at P12 million.
Exciting bidding is also expected for the work of an older master, Fabian de la Rosa’s “Hat Weavers,” which shows an idyllic scene of women in their Filipiniana making hats. The scene is atypical since De la Rosa was known mainly for his landscapes, but the window scene showing the sky betrays the work to be that of the master.
“This important work was acquired by the [American] actor George O’Brien when he visited the Philippines after the war,” Ponce de Leon notes.
O’Brien started in the silent-movie era and became a successful cowboy-movie star, doing westerns with John Ford.
“In the ’40s, he reunited with Ford to do films on Asian countries, including Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines,” the Léon owner said.
It was around this time O’Brien acquired the Fabian de la Rosa.
Ponce de Léon declares: “No one knew that such a masterpiece … existed in the midst of Hollywood!”