Art Luxury: 5 Valuable Pieces Exhibited at Art Fair Philippines 2023

Pieces by Fernando Zóbel, José Joya, and Yunizar were among some of the coveted works of art in Art Fair Philippines 2023.

Art Fair Philippines 2023 officially opened its doors to the public on February 17 and crowds of both foreign and local art appreciators took part in the event’s first day. Most pieces on exhibit were available for purchase, with some fetching millions of pesos or thousands of U.S. dollars. Among them were the works of acclaimed Filipino artists Fernando Zóbel and José Joya, who are recognized for their abstract expressionist styles. Foreign artists like Yunizar—who hails from Indonesia—also had a number of valuable pieces for sale. 

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A wide range of factors can affect the price of a piece of art. Usually, an artist’s fame and prestige takes precedence, but other qualities can also shift market prices. These include a piece’s scarcity, authenticity, subject matter, size, style, condition, provenance, and technique. All these factors work in tandem to determine a piece’s monetary value. 

For those curious, below is a list of some of the fair’s most sought-after works:

La Piedra Del Caballo II (1975) by Fernando Zóbel

Fernando Zóbel was both a businessman and painter, who’s known for his abstract expressionist work. He hosted his first solo show at the Sala Nebli in Spain, and would continue to participate in a number of prestigious awards and exhibitions throughout his life—including the 31st Venice Biennale. León Gallery exhibited a selection of his works at the fair, the most valuable one being La Piedra Del Caballo II, a signed oil on canvas piece that measures 122 x 152 centimeters. 

Art Fair PH 2023 La Piedra Del Caballo II 1975 by Fernando Zóbel
La Piedra Del Caballo II (right-most painting). Photo via Pilar Gonzalez, courtesy of León Gallery.

Blue Harbor (1966) by José Joya

León Gallery also exhibited works by José Joya, who like Zóbel, was a Filipino artist who often employed the abstract expressionist style and had a strong influence in the local art scene. Joya also participated in the Venice Biennale, having been the first Philippine representative in its 32nd year. His piece Blue Harbor was one of the most coveted among those showcased from his oeuvre. The oil on wood piece measures 81 x 122 centimeters, and features the artist’s signature on its lower-right side.  This is another thing to watch our for the art fair.

Art Fair PH 2023 Blue Harbor 1966 by José Joya
Joya’s Blue Harbor. Photo via Pilar Gonzalez, courtesy of León Gallery.

Rooster (2019) by Yunizar 

Gajah Gallery exhibited works by Indonesian artist Yunizar in the “Projects” section of the fair’s roofdeck. The artist is a co-founder of Kelompok Seni Rupa Jendela, which is one of Indonesia’s best-known contemporary art collectives. The childlike naïveté present in his visual style is easily recognizable and garnered him international recognition, cementing his place within Indonesia’s art scene. The most valuable piece in his collection, entitled “Rooster,” is a cast-bronze sculpture that is 216 x 162 x 60 centimeters in dimension.

Art Fair PH 2023 Rooster 2019 by Yunizar
Yunizar’s Rooster. Photo via Pilar Gonzalez, courtesy of Gajah Gallery.

Below is a description on this particular piece, courtesy of the Gajah Gallery:

Roosters hold a specific significance in Southeast Asia, especially in the Indonesian social context as a pet and prized possession. Its crowing punctuates time in villages. The act of championing, caring, and breeding has become an integral part of many of our local traditions. Its image is ubiquitous, adorning everyday objects, from bowls, food brands, textiles to coin-banks. 

Yunizar’s Rooster sculpture is rendered in the same naivete and iconic way as the ones in his painting. The size does not follow its realistic proportion so it blew up monumentally to occupy the space. In line with Yunizar’s unpretentious paintings that evoke the sense of locality and vernacularism, the Rooster transports the audience’s mind into Yunizar’s everyday reality.

Night Walker (2002) by Yoshitomo Nara 

Gallery Scena, which is based in Tokyo, featured a piece by renowned Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara in the fair. Nara is a pioneer in contemporary art, with his unique drawings of children displaying a wide range of nuanced emotions. Nara graduated at the Aichi University of the Arts after which pursuing further studies at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and put down roots in Cologne, Germany. The coveted exhibition piece, entitled Night Walker, is a 29.5 x 22.5 centimeter signed print created with etching, aquatint, and colored drypoint on wove paper. 

Art Fair PH 2023 Night Walker 2002 by Yoshitomo Nara
Nara’s Night Walker. Photo via Pilar Gonzalez, courtesy of Gallery Scena.

Silhouette No.15 (1974) by Alfredo Liongoren

Liongoren Gallery featured works that the late founder Norma Liongoren’s husband, Alfredo Liongoren (who has also passed) did. Their daughter, Hannah Liongoren, was gracious enough to give me some background on her late father and his influence on the local art scene. 

As it happens, Alfredo was a direct mentee of José Joya, making him one of the country’s early abstractionists. It’s no wonder that among the fair’s valuable pieces is a seminal work of his entitled Silhouette No.15. The mixed media piece measures 81.4 x 60.5 centimeters, and was featured (alongside Joya’s work) in The Struggle for Philippine Art, a prominent art history book that mixed media piece measures 81.4 x 60.5 centimeters, and was featured (alongside Joya’s work) in The Struggle for Philippine Art, a prominent art history book that written by Purita Kalaw-Ledesma and Amadis Ma. Guerrero wrote.

Art Fair PH 2023 Silhouette No 15 1974 by Alfredo Liongoren
Liongoren’s Silhouette No.15. Photo via Pilar Gonzalez, courtesy of Liongoren Gallery.

The monetary value of a piece doesn’t determine its inherent value. While they do often go hand in hand, the old adage holds true: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That being said, one can understand why the works featured are prized so highly, as the care and technique put into them do shine through. 

Art Fair Philippines 2023 will be open from February 17 to 19, from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm. Ayala’s The Link in Makati became the venue for the event. For tickets and more information, you may visit the fair’s official website.  

Banner via Pilar Gonzalez, courtesy of Gajah Gallery.

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