Attention Collectors: Fernando Amorsolo's "Bathers" and Jose Joya's "Festival" Will Be Going Under the Hammer - Arts & Culture

Two of Pacita Abad’s works will also be up for auction.

Top collectors will have some tough decisions to make with Salcedo Auctions’ Important Philippine Art & Furniture catalogue already available for viewing. 

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The major highlight of the sale is National Artist Jose Joya’s “Festival” from 1985—a rare,  large oil on canvas—in an even rarer red palette, measuring 35 x 59 inches. 

“Festival,” (1985) by Jose Joya

Artist Maya Munoz likes the sensuality of Joya, which she senses in the artist’s canvases. Alluding to the movement and lines of  his figurative works, she sees these as well in his abstract expressionist masterpieces: “sensuous, swirly, energetic… plus the colors!”

While Joya’s defined style streams through his works, his fellow National Artist, Federico Aguilar Alcuaz is the exact opposite. As lushly displayed by four works offered in the auction dated from the 60s to the 80s, Alcuaz delights in straying from familiar ground, which appeals to artist Ged Merino. “He moves from abstraction to figurative and other genres seamlessly,” says Merino. 

“Untitled,” (1962) by Federico Aguilar Alcuaz

For interior designer Eric Paras, Alcuaz’s “ bravura strokes and color sense create an  overall effect that is so rich and full, in the visual sense.”  The observation is shared by Merino, who admits liking Alcuaz’s “sense of color”, and in addition, his ”compositional savvy.” 

Paras is equally appreciative of Fernando Amorsolo’s deft handling of light and his figurative draftsmanship. “Magaan, good vibes,” is how Paras sums up the overall mood conveyed by the artist’s works. “And I like his technique on how to use light, and his mastery of the human form,” Paras adds. 

From left: “Bathers” is displayed proudly at the late Myrna Almario Adriano’s dining room; Cynthia Almario and Adriano

At the auction, Amorsolo collectors will have a chance to acquire a piece from his golden period from 1915 to 1940. Dated 1930, the artist’s “Bathers” is finally available after years of taking pride of place at the late Myrna Almario Adriano’s well-appointed formal dining room. 

Adriano, who was a famous interior designer to Manila’s whos’ who, just like her nieces, Yvy and Cynthia Almario, took a special liking to the piece. “I super remember that painting,” was Cynthia’s answer when asked if she recalls “Bathers.” “Because it was prominently displayed in the dining room. And I was such a foodie, haha! I’m always in the dining room, and that Amorsolo was in front of the buffet line … hahaha!”

“Tita Myrna lived in a really beautiful glass house, which was ahead of its time,” says Cynthia. “We really enjoyed the staircase with a big picture window.” 

As Ivy recalls, her Tita Myrna’s exceptional gift was in crafting beautiful environments. “And also creating the indoor-outdoor lifestyle,” continues Ivy. ”Ang ganda ganda her lanai, where there’s this overgrown mango tree. The parties that she would have in that area are so memorable. And  we can see the Amorsolo from the lanai.”

Adriano shared with her nieces not just her love for interior design but also her deep appreciation for art.  According to Ivy: “When I was around 12 or 13, she was the one telling me about Amorsolo’s works. She had another one that time, yung may palayok, tsaka may fire. She told me, ‘tignan mo yang Amorsolo na yan. See how he treats illumination. Tignan mo ‘to (pointing to a detail in the painting), mafi-feel mo yung init kasi yung cheeks rosy.’”

Though there were other Amorsolos in the Adriano home at different points in time, “Bathers” was the only one that stayed with the family the longest. “Very much so,” was Cynthia’s quick answer when asked if it was a favorite of her aunt’s. “There was proper planning on where it would hang,” Cynthia recalls. “She put it in front of the mirror. On the sides, she just put botanical artwork. Feeling niya, that was the piece de resistance.

“Pop Art,” (2003) by Pacita Abad

Meanwhile, fans of Pacita Abad  will have the rare chance to acquire the artist’s works, two of which are up for bidding. This comes at an opportune time, ahead of the artist’s much awaited retrospective at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis opening in April 2023. 

“Pacita was very experimental,” says Merino, who met Abad through his mentor, Manuel “Boy” Rodriguez Jr.  Just like Merino, Abad used fabrics for her works. “For me, her trapunto works are documentations of her movements,” Merino shares. “ They are like quilts, but she was not afraid to use different materials and techniques. I believe that her incorporation of various elements is part of her being Pinay.”

For inquiries, email [email protected] or phone +63 917 591 2191. Those who wish to view the online catalogue or register as a bidder can log on to salcedoauctions.com. You can also follow @salcedoauctions on Instagram and Facebook.

Text by DEVI DE VEYRA

Banner Photo: “Bathers” (1930) by Fernando Amorsolo

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