World record for Philippine Modern Art
With the interest in fine art bursting at the seams, Leon Gallery, in partnership with the Asian Cultural Council Philippines, featured an unparalleled selection of 150 lots ranging from furniture, religious paraphernalia, paintings, and recently expanded to include historical memorabilia. The chronicled archives were the letters of Andres Bonifacio to Emilio Jacinto, which were significant reflections and introspections on the final days of the Philippine revolutionary society, the Katipunan. At the cocktail reception, ACC members spotted were Dr. Joven Cuanang, Ching Cruz, Josie Natori, Ernest Escaler, Maribel Ongpin, along with curators Lisa Nakpil and Martin Tinio.
Beautifully presented, the gallery collection provided fresh perspectives to the culturally curious. The star of the evening was the never before shown to the public Jose Joya’s “Space Transfiguration”. At the preview cocktails held at the posh residence of ACC Phil member, beauteous hostess Ching Cruz, I had the chance to talk to Joya’s sister, Josie Baldovino. She narrated how this was the first time Joya’s art had left the family. The artist refused to part with it; and due to its humongous size of 60” x 70”, it was unfortunate that the painting was not exhibited at the 1962 Venice Biennale since it could not be transported. Other notable paintings exhibited at the preview were: Anita Magsaysay Ho’s “Tahip”, with a starting bid of 18M; Ang Kiukok‘s “Fish” with a starting bid of 8M; and Mauro Malang Santos ‘ “Flower Vendor” with a starting bid of 3M.
Jaime Ponce de Leon, director of Leon Gallery, has maintained the supremacy of his gallery as a lucrative site for displaying artworks. Other significant works sold for over P1 million, but the Joya was the top selling masterpiece, the highest ever sold in the Philippines and a world record for Philippine Modern Art at 112M. Such success reflects the strength of the current art market and the presence of new young collectors. Jaime said that the partnership with the ACC is “to raise funds in support of giving grants to Filipino artists in the pursuit of excellence through exposure and study abroad”. Leon Gallery is located at Eurovilla 1, Rufino corner Legazpi Sts Legazpi Village, Makati.