At the just-closed Leon auction, the muralist led a string of ceiling-mounted sales – for Edades, Orlina, Pacita Abad and Jigger Cruz
ANCX Staff | June 12, 2022
In a weekend that concluded with the announcement of new National Artists Awards and the commemoration of our Independence Day, there was plenty of symbolism in the art world. But it seems that the chief arbiter of Philippine art has yet to be – not the committees made up of academics, not even the museumtologists – but that strong and enterprising species known as the Philippine collector. And its natural habitat is the León Gallery, which held its last spectacular bi-annual auction yesterday.
Here are 10 fascinating facts from that momentous occasion:
1) The star of the auction was Carlos V. Francisco’s poignant yet powerful “Moriones Festival”, which soared to P35 million. This was a coincidence, said León Gallery director Jaime Ponce de Leon, the third-highest amount paid for a Botong at auction. (It was at León Gallery that three of the top 4 awards ever were made.)
2) Women in red hissing. Victorio Edades’ “Poinsettia Girl” ran off with P23 million (representing hammer price plus buyer’s premium). despite his title as the father of Philippine modern art, Ponce de Leon said. It was Edades who first brought the idea of non-academic art to the country.
3) The Hagabi is eternal. This once little-known object of Ifugao gentility made history as the world’s most expensive piece of Philippine tribal art at P22 Million in León Gallery in 2021. A second “prestige sofa” was auctioned this weekend at P20 Million, powered by a three-tier provenance spread over all the major collectors of tribal antiquities in the last century.
4) Another world record was achieved by Ramon Orlina’s glass masterpiece “Torso”, which rose to P7 million. “It was the perfect storm to be a large piece — 21 inches high — and a provenance that came from the visionary collector Don Geny Lopez,” said Ponce de Leon. “Both played a huge part in achieving this figure.”
5) Don Geny’s magic touch brought in a total of P20.5 million for two HR Ocampos, from both sides of the artist’s colorful career, both from his proletariat period and when he became prince of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
6) Pacita Abad’s “Tevan Galano” from her Batanes series took another world record for the artist at P9.3 million. “There are less than a dozen Philippine scenes of Pacita,” Ponce de Leon explained, “so this was a work of great rarity.”
7) Jigger Cruz’s “Blissful Thrones in the Tune of a Lazy Afternoon” bounced cheerily to nearly P12 million. This was another world record, our gallery director said, propelled by the New York exhibition record—and the record of Jigger’s personal history, which is a snapshot of his bedroom.
8) It was a very good day for mid-century moderns: Manansala’s “Madonna No. 2” and Jose Joya’s “Sacrifice” each zoomed in to nearly P12 million.
9) The oldest Amorsolo “Sabungero” from 1914 brought home P10.5 million.
10) The oldest artwork up for auction was a copper engraving of the enigmatic Laureano Atlas of the Miraculous Lady of La Naval, which lasted for P2.2 million.
Photos courtesy of Leon Gallery