Extraordinary Experiences of the Prevailing Zeitgeist

On top of prized art pieces from two of the country’s most prolific artists, León Gallery’s Spectacular Mid-Year Auction 2019 features a multifarious collection of Filipino contemporary art

All Blue No. 3 by Lee Aguinaldo, signed and dated 1992; acrylic on marine plywood; 32” x 19” (81 cm x 48 cm) and Man – Mono III by Benedicto Cabrera, signed and dated 2005; woodcut, collagraph, and etching on STPI handmade shaped paper, printed from 4 woodblocks and 2 copper plates; 65” x 50” (165 cm x 127 cm).

“Contemporary art is the art of today. And if you follow basically living artists, pieces done by living artists constitute contemporary art,” León Gallery’s Director, Jaime Ponce de Leon starts. “Modern art is different from contemporary art. So modern art would be if you look at it at an international point of view, the beginning of Cézanne or Impressionism forward, and in the Philippine context, it begins with Edades and the modernist movement onwards. Contemporary is now.”

León Gallery, known as a leading gallery that specializes in historically important and museum quality Philippine art, is once again holding its Spectacular Mid-Year Auction. And with this extensive set of pieces is a collection of various contemporary artists. “We have an Andres Barrioquinto over here who is one of the big guys in the contemporary scene, the work of Jigger Cruz, and pieces from Buen Calubayan, Kawayan de Guia, Wire Tuazon, and so on,” Jaime enumerates. “People are really watching very closely the Jigger Cruz and Andres Barrioquinto as well as the Buen Calubayan and Geraldine Javier in this sale. They are major works of the artists.”

Loneliness Remembers What Happiness Forgets by Andres Barrioquinto, signed and dated 2019; oil on canvas board; 84” x 60” (213 cm x 152 cm) and Baguios Kultur Repprochment 1 by Kawayan de Guia, signed and dated 2010; mixed media; 47” x 39” (119 cm x 99 cm).
Angelita’s First Communion by Marina Cruz, signed and dated 2011; oil on canvas; 48” x 36” (122 cm x 91 cm).

With dynamic combinations of concepts, technique, materials, and subjects, each canvas reflects certain messages and issues concerning contemporary society and cultural identity. And with the multitude of artists featured in this year’s auction, each painting invites critics and enthusiasts alike to an internal dialogue which could be deep, mundane or even both. Jaime explains, “Well, there’s really nothing to understand about it—if you like it, then that’s it. I don’t want to be too deep. I think this could be echoed by even the greatest collectors. To be very cerebral on things I think is out of it.”

Highly Coveted Pieces

Aside from these contemporary pieces, other highlights include three important works of respected Filipino artists and a Tabacalera collection of Amorsolos. “One coming from the 1920s, another from the 30s, and another from the 50s. These are very coveted periods of Amorsolo, and the provenance is what you would call, impeccable,” Jaime says.

LEFT: The Bathers by Fernando Amorsolo, signed and dated 1953; oil on canvas; 37” x 29 1/2” (95 cm x 75 cm). TOP-RIGHT: Crossing the River by Fernando Amorsolo, signed and dated 1924; oil on canvas board; 12 1/2” x 16” (32 cm x 41 cm). BOTTOM-RIGHT: Tobacco Maiden by Fernando Amorsolo, Ca. 1938, signed; oil on canvas; 24” x 32” (61 cm x 81 cm).

The largest Lorenzo Guerrero is also offered in the auction. “In this sale, we have a Lorenzo Guerrero, the teacher of Juan Luna, from the 19th century. And this comes formerly from the collection of Pedro Roxas,” says Jaime. The painting is named after the town (now city) of which he has become familiar with in the course of romantic pursuit.

Mariquina by Lorenzo Guerrero, signed and undated; oil on canvas board; 13 1/2” x 18 1/2” (34 cm x 47 cm).

Monumental pieces from acclaimed artists Fernando Zobel and Carlos “Botong” Francisco are also part of this historic sale. Jaime shares, “These are backed up by documentation, we have the letter of Fernando Zobel stating to his friend that indeed, it was the first painting he ever did—a copy of a Van Gogh painting (Wheat Field with Cypresses, 1889). And we are very fortunate to present them to the auction public.” Also inspired by Van Gogh is the last painting of Francisco, the unfinished Camote Diggers, in which the ‘poet of Angono’ captures the Filipinos’ struggle with poverty and at the same time, the resilient spirit that lives within. “There are certain messages deep behind every painting. Hence, we are eliciting entries for art criticism for this particular Francisco which we feel is one of the most important and the deepest paintings that the artist ever did.”

Homage to Vincent Van Gogh ‘Wheat Field with Cypresses’ by Fernando Zobel, Ca. 1946-1948; oil on canvas board; 12” x 16” (30 cm x 41 cm).
Camote Diggers by Carlos “Botong” Francisco, 1969; oil on canvas; 34 1/2” x 58 1/2” (88 cm x 149 cm).

León Gallery’s Spectacular Mid-Year Auction 2019 invites art collectors and enthusiasts for a preview of the pieces for auction from June 15 to 21, from 9 am to 7 pm at the ground floor of Eurovilla 1 located at Rufino corner Legazpi Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City. This will be culminated by the auction on June 22, that starts at 2 pm. For inquiries, you can visit their website at www.leon-gallery.com, email at [email protected], or call +632 856 27 81

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