Leon Gallery welcomes the 125th anniversary of the country's declaration of independence by unveiling and offering the finest in Philippine art in The Spectacular Mid-Year Auction, happening this June 17, 2023, Saturday, at 2 PM.
"Milestones are always a cause for celebration—and none more so than the 125th year of our nation's birth as we mark a momentous, glorious 12th of June this 2023," says Leon Gallery Director Jaime Ponce de Leon. “In this year's Spectacular Mid-Year Auction, we have sought to gather the very best of Filipino art to commemorate this watershed moment."
The highlight of this sale is master Vicente Manansala's Pounding Rice (1973), a consummate exemplar of his "Transparent Cubism." The work is from the collection of Doña Hideliza "Delly" Tambunting-Ongsiako, a philanthropist who supported various religious organizations and a passionate collector of the arts. She and her connoisseur group of friends—Judy Araneta-Roxas, Bessie Bautista-Legarda, and Aurora Silayan Go—became good friends with Manansala whom they met in the 1970s. They started collecting his paintings from then on. It was also Manansala who advised them to collect works by other equally renowned artists, such as Ang Kiukok, Anita Magsaysay-Ho, H.R. Ocampo, and Cesar Legaspi. Doña Delly was among the first founders of the "Friends of Manansala."
Doña Delly was the fourth child of Don Antonio Tambunting, who inherited the Casa Agencia de Tambunting, and Doña Aurora "Nena" Paraiso, also a philanthropist who funded the construction of a number of churches.
Part of the proceeds from the sale of this work will benefit Doña Delly's supported organizations: Leaven of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Oblate Apostle of the Two Hearts, and Alliance of the Holy Family International.
Another equally stunning highlight of the coming auction is Anita Magsaysay Ho's Women with Flowers (1993), made during her prolific Hong Kong years. It is from the collection of Zita Feliciano, a dear friend of the artist. The said commissioned piece is said to be Mrs. Feliciano's "birthday gift" to herself.
Mrs. Feliciano's son, Ito, writes that Women with Flowers was his "mom's piece de resistance” in the family living room, “which had an Amorsolo, a Sanso, Manansala, and Ocampo, all surrounding visitors to the heart of our home."
'Works deeply connected to our country's struggle for self-determination are among the most coveted lots in this sale. "June is also always made memorable thanks to the birth anniversary of our national hero Jose Rizal,” says Ponce de Leon. And two works by Emmanuel "Manny" Garibay in this sale capture Rizal’s heroism. So does a rare copy of Rizal's Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas by Antonio de Morga, one of his three books that spurred and defined our country's identity. Maximo Viola, the man famous for rescuing Rizal's “Noli Me Tangere” from oblivion by lending him the money to publish it, is represented through his collection of extraordinary ivory tableaux.
Also worth mentioning is a monograph by the Spanish official Jose M. del Castillo y Jimenez titled El Katipunan o el Filibusterismo en Filipinas [The Katipunan or the Subversives in the Philippines], a compelling account narrating and detailing the origins and beginnings of the revolutionary society that led the armed struggle for independence.
Not to be ignored is a stunning Letras y Figuras by the 19th-century artist Marcos y Ortega del Rosario, a rarity of its kind as it is among the few that bear the signature of its painter.
Filipino global artists likewise take center stage in the June 17 auction. This exceptional batch includes Jose Joya who is represented by his Talim Island (1966), which is from that golden period where he was the country’s representative to the Venice Biennale; Fernando Zobel who is behind Marina (1974), an exemplary work showing the artist's sublime transition into his now iconic and coveted Serie Blanca; Federico Aguilar-Alcuaz is represented by his coveted opuses from his "Golden Period," the "Barcelona Series.” There’s also Benedicto Cabrera's entry to the 1969 Paris Biennale, Imaginary Portrait of Sabel II (1969); and Ronald Ventura's Profile (2010), Home Screen (2010), Into the Woods 3 (2012), Cross Turismo (2014), and Hunter (2015), all of which have graced international publications.
Of course, passionate art collectors who are key to ensuring the continued flourishing of Filipino art are also protagonists in this auction: Dr. Victor Reyes, pioneering Filipino neurosurgeon and friend to Filipino modernists, including H.R. Ocampo and Vicente Manansala; statesman and diplomat Carlos P. Romulo; legal luminary J. Antonio Araneta; revolutionary hero Gen. Benito Natividad; and the Father of Philippine healthcare, Dr. Roberto Macasaet, Sr., and his wife, Teresita Montinola.
A rare Amorsolo moonlit scene, A Firelit Night with Musicians, from the collection of former Rizal Province Governor Dr. Wenceslao Pascual, as well as one of the earliest documented works by the maestro that he made during his first year of studies at the UP School of Fine Arts—a piece showing one of the earliest depictions of his favorite muse, the dalagang bukid—from Carlos P. Romulo's collection, are not to be missed.
For this auction, Leon Gallery partners with the MovEd (Molding Optimism and Values Thru Education) Group in raising funds for the organization's mission of "providing free holistic and accessible early childhood education to underprivileged communities around the Philippines." The late Justin "Tiny" Nuyda's Painting the Sky (1985) will be sold to benefit the various charitable projects and initiatives of MovEd.
"This auction is really an invitation to once again revel in the imagination of the Philippines' greatest artists, tirelessly gathered by some of the country's most seasoned collectors," says Ponce de Leon. "We assure everyone of a wonderful journey through our country's art, and on behalf of Team León Gallery, I wish you all the best on this 125th year of the formation of our identity as a people."
[To browse the rest of the offerings in this Spectacular Midyear Auction, which is co-presented by ANCX, visit the Leon Gallery website.]
Images courtesy of Leon Gallery