Friday, September 05, 2014

Leon Gallery is pleased to present the Magnificent September Auction for 2014. Don’t round up the usual big names! This September reveals a surprisingly broad range of artworks and antiques for a broad spectrum of sensibilities. So where does one begin when trying to explore something so diverse and intricate, so downright grand?

After what the record setting June 2014 sales proved, it is all forward momentum, and the market will surely look beyond the current paintings to the earlier works of Ben Cabrera. Spotlight is on Bencab’s “Sabel in San Andres Bukid” from his very first one man show in 1966 at Gallery Indigo. A work that evokes nostalgia to the artist it is also important because in it we see the beginnings of Sabel — the iconic muse of Bencab.

Expect Leon Gallery to offer a deft mix from important Filipiniana — including a six volume folio (1880) Manila Edition of the Flora de Filipinas by Fray Manuel Blanco; to works of homegrown visual opulence: including an important festive Manansala, “Vendors” from 1972 with it’s luminous geometries and rich colors; and an equally important work by Anita Magsaysay Ho, the blithe “Women with Baskets and Mangoes.” The work endears in that it even bears a dedication that is a celebration of friendship. “This is yours, I’m very happy with the work,” Magsaysay Ho writes.

The stock in trade sale of 164 lots will also include family treasures featuring properties from various fine and private collections including stately artworks from the estates of Don Alfonso Ongpin, Don Luis Ma. Araneta, Don Anselmo Trinidad, Angel and Carmen Guerrero Nakpil, Alejandro and Irene Roces and Tony and Cez Gutierrez.

A highlight is “Claire de Lune,” an important reclining portrait of Maria Yrittia by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, which could stop a crowd.

Acquired from the venerable Rizalist and art dealer Don Alfonso Ongpin, this lyrical portrait of the artist’s muse and long time companion led the discerning collector Anselmo Trinidad to exclaim: “This is it, there is nothing more I’d like to acquire.” So it was the most important and beloved piece in a collection that adorned his Forbes park home for a generation.

For the sharp eyed collector, much overlooked gems are another highlight including rare block sculpture by Carlos Botong Francisco, which accompanies the sculpture by Manansala which was auctioned off last June, both from the storied residence of Don Alejandro Roces.

Not only are the traditional discerning buyers tough and focused these days; bidding is brisk and decisive among the young collectors too, and buyers know exactly how far they are prepared to go, and Ronald Ventura’s large and magisterial “A Crack in the Hull” from 2001 will be an obvious target of seasoned and new collectors.

Also, collectors are ready to cast a wider net: it pays to look beyond the traditionally popular names. The domain of young contemporary artists remains wide open.

A far reaching change in aesthetic orientations is under way what with today’s young generation of artists blazing the international auction scene, from Manuel Ocampo — with his raw and powerful style oeuvre is anything but decorative — and Geraldine Javier to Rodel Tapaya and Jose John Santos III.

Riding high amid ever growing collector interest what with the records set last June, the period splendor of pre-20th century and prewar furniture is more attractive than ever: the Paras Lazatin cabinet, a balayong and narra masterpiece that is perhaps the only one of its kind in the country; a Kamagong chest of drawers and bookcase from the 2nd quarter of the 19th century radiates with a surprisingly urban, contemporary mood.

For those who indulge in a passionate interest in rarities the September auction offers one of the few very rare works of 1920s Filipino Irish painter Gaston O’Farrell and a beautifully carved all ivory San Francisco de Asis even made more unusual by its slate base enriched with fanciful details from the late 18th century is any connoisseur’s dream.

Leon Gallery is located at Ground Level, Eurovilla 1, Rufino St. Corner Legaspi Sts., Legaspi Village, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines

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