Art pieces with fascinating histories, early works from first solo exhibitions, objet d’art, and cutting-edge contemporary works highlight this much-awaited “Magnificent September Auction 2015” of Leon Gallery happening today from 2 p.m. onward.
Sure to delight discriminating collectors are two artworks from the respective early shows of Anita Magsaysay-Ho—“Boti! Garapa!” circa 1946—and National Artist Benedicto Cabrera—“Scavenger” from 1966—each with fascinating histories and back stories.
As part of the post-war rehabilitation efforts of the Commonwealth government of President Sergio Osmena, with the aim to reconstruct our damaged cultural institutions and the “renascent vigor of Philippine culture,” an exhibition of paintings of Magsaysay-Ho’s 47 artworks in all, including the oil on wood work “Boti! Garapa!”—was held at the United States Information Library in Intramuros on February 23 to March 10, 1946 with First Lady Esperanza Osmeña as Guest of Honor during the opening reception.
Galo Ocampo, who at that time was the chief of the Art Section, Office of the President, and incidentally, her classmate at UP, described the choice of Anita thus: “In the paintings of Miss Magsaysay, one sees an exceptionally gifted artist who will go on hurdling the obstacles that stand on the way.”
Meanwhile in 1966, all of 24 years old, Benedicto Cabrera, or Bencab as the artist is more popularly known, together with his brother Salvador and friends Bibsy Carballo and Francisco Navarro, opened the Indigo Gallery in Mabini with his first solo show of some sixteen artworks, including this piece “Scavenger.” Debuting as well at this juncture was Sabel —the most recognized subject to appear in Bencab’s canvas, a real life vagabond who used to roam around Bambang district in Sampaloc where the artist grew up.
It is fascinating to note that Magsaysay-Ho’s “Boti! Garapa!” was retrieved from a garage sale for the trifling sum of $20 and Bencab’s “Scavenger” was found at a Salvation Army sale for $4.99.
Besides the two interesting pieces, another “must have” is an untitled work by Juan Luna. Signed and dated 1884, the oil on canvas painting features a comely European lady depicted in full figure in the formal dress of the time, bares importance. It was acquired by National Artist Carlos Quirino, then the aid-de-camp of President Elpidio Quirino, during the latter’s State Visit to Spain in 1951.
Two pieces by Romulo Olazo, preeminent modernist master, from his Diaphanous series, whose recent passing surprised the art word, stand as testaments to his indomitable commitment and devotion to his craft.
“Sin Titulo,” Fernando Zobel’s stunning oil on canvas work from 1963 is one of the largest and more complex art pieces by Zobel to come out of this period. The resulting work presents a totally different approach to canvas, all the more ethereal and sophisticated.
A pair of silver Paliteras (Palilleras) from the Suarez-Joven family of Bacolor Pampanga, harkens to bygone, halcyon era—the 1850’s—of refined and elegant living.
Capping our survey is a powerful round-up of contemporary art pieces led by Ronald Ventura with his untitled work from 2010 and a series in mixed media from 2005 and 2006. Jigger Cruz’s “Wandering Carnival” signed and dated 2015 bares his trademark agitated, viscous style of deliberate defacement. Rodel Tapaya with his “The Fairy’s Flower Garden” is a powerful narrative where his vivid renditions give to form what we ourselves imagine.
Truly, regardless of appreciation, inclination, and persuasion, there are artworks and pieces certain to delight various collectors in our Magnificent September Auction 2015.