As expected, works by Anita Magsaysay-Ho, Fernando Amorsolo, Ang Kiukok, Vicente Manasala and Romulo Olazo performed strongly in León Gallery’s first auction for the year.
Done in partnership with Asian Cultural Council (ACC) Philippines Foundation, the annual auction aimed raise funds for ACC’s fellowship program for exceptional Filipino artists.
Magsaysay-Ho’s “Sineguelas Gatherers” sold for P23,360,000, including buyer’s premium. It is a 1976 work showing her trademark iconography of female farm workers harvesting the native fruit. According to the catalogue, the artist endowed her favorite “rustic” figures with innate grandeur.
Sold for the exact same price is Amorsolo’s “Cooking Under the Mango Tree.” A 1946 work, it has found its way back in the Philippines after having been under the ownership of Tabacalera in Spain. The painting touchingly evokes the enchanted mood that Amorsolo saw in the prewar countryside, suggesting a rural arcadia.
Amorsolo made a variation of the painting a year later, “Under the Mango Tree,” a commissioned work; and this sold for P11,680,000. Amorsolo’s “Lady with Banga,” signed and dated 1933, went for P12,848,000 while another Magsaysay-Ho painting, “Two Women” (1992), fetched for P8.1M.
Lorenzo Guerrero’s “Vendors” (1868), which sold for P22,192,000, is an extremely rare oil-on-wood painting showing Juan V. Luna’s first mentor’s ability to paint 19th century Filipino life. Carefully placing all nine of his subjects with equal importance in a vertical orientation, Guerrero offers a brilliantly drawn slice of life, painting the happy pursuits of its cast of Manileños.
In a first, two watercolor-on-paper works signed by Damian Domingo went up for bidding. “Un Indio Noble de Manila” and “Una India de Manila” went for P3,737,600 and P1,985,600, respectively.
Vicente Manansala’s “Ang Pulubi” (1979), a commentary on the world he lived in at the time—and certainly very relevant to this day—is a defining representation of the artist’s recurring “women in Church Entrances” theme. The work sold for P11,680,000.
Ang Kiukok’s “Twelfth Station: Jesus Died on the Cross” (1997), is one of four paintings from the late expressionist and national artist that sold in the auction. This particular work shows the duality of Christ as a tortured victim and an alienated public figure. Sold for P14,016,000, the work exudes emotional power.
Romulo Olazo’s “Diaphanous-B” (1987) belongs to a series in which the artist created translucent, gem-like manifestations of chromatic brilliance. This work, which was displayed at the Cultural Center of the Philippines as part of the “Olazo Large Scale” exhibit, sold for P11,680,000.
Two works by another master abstractionist, H.R. Ocampo, fetched high prices during the auction. “Clytaemnestra” (1970) presents a figure of a woman, barely discernable through the biomorphic shapes of his trademark shades, sold for P9,928,000 while a pair of untitled oil paintings sold for P1,284,800, four times as much as its starting bid.
Also sold for a considerable amount at P5,840,000 is the two-page handwritten defense statement of the first Philippine president Emilio Aguinaldo, in response to speculations that he had a hand in the death of Katipunan founder Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procopio. Aguinaldo claimed that he commuted the death sentence to exile but that the order did not reach his men.
The late 19th Century narra and rattan four-poster bed by foremost furniture maker Ah Tay sold for an astounding P10,512,000.
Writer and historian Martin “Sonny” Tinio Jr. described the bed, aka as Calabasa, as perhaps the best-selling item Ah Tay made.
The umbrella stand and hat rack that was designed by Maximo Viola, childhood friend of Jose Rizal, fetched P443, 840. “The entire piece, of kamagong carved to resemble bamboo, must have been a conversation piece then as it is now,” said Tinio.
Impressive for its scale alone at 96” x 48”, Dino Gabito’s “Shroud #6” went for P1,752,000 from a starting bid of P240,000. Annie Cabigting, meanwhile, was able to command P7,008,000 for her work “Kuntsmuseum.”
Three paintings by Ronald Ventura, “Untitled,” “Funny Songs” and “Confluence” each sold for P8,176,000, P7,008,000, and P6,424,000, respectively. –CONTRIBUTED