Dr. Jaime Laya’s picks from Leon auction all under 500K 2
Dr. Jaime Laya and Oscar Zalameda's “Portrait of Baby Santiago.” Dr. Laya's photo by Berwin Coroza, artwork courtesy of Leon Gallery

Dr. Jaime Laya’s picks from upcoming Leon auction are kingly treasures each under P500K

The esteemed collector seems to be saying one can find beauty, style and meaning in the most unexpected artworks
ANCX Staff | Nov 22 2021

Dr. Jaime Laya is known for his great eye for art and antiques. The newspaper columnist, banker, educator (he was ex-dean of the UP College of Business Administration) and former Budget Minister was once appointed to acquire art for the Intramuros Administration, the National Museum, and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas—whose art collection was known to have greatly improved during his time as governor. 

For his personal collection, Dr. Laya primarily collects books and paintings, and a sprinkling of other things, he once told ANCX, “some valuable, many are not.” What draws him to pieces of art and antiques are the stories behind them, and the memories. “What I collect are basically objects that represent aspects of our history, not necessarily paintings alone,” he said. 

Dr. Laya joins our circle of esteemed tastemakers for the upcoming Leon Gallery Kingly Treasures Auction this December. Without us dictating, he set his own rule for his choices. “The picks so far made from the Leon Gallery December Kingly Treasures Auction were by great collectors with bottomless pockets,” he said. “Not being in the select company, I dare not look at anything tagged at more than the mid six figures.” Which means he shunned the big names. “Amorsolo, BenCab, and Anita Magsaysay-Ho are disqualified,” he added. Nevertheless, he’s picked treasures he’d “love to live with.” 

One can find beauty, style and meaning in the most unexpected artworks, he seems to be saying, if you know how to look. Dr. Laya is known to have one of the most enviable collections of art and antiques in the country, so it’s best you take note of his choices, and his reasons for choosing them— which give us a glimpse on how the man engages with an artwork. 

Here they are:

Steve Santos'
Steve Santos' "Billboard." Signed and dated 1982 (lower right), acrylic on canvas, 27" x 39" (69 cm x 99 cm)

29 Steve Santos, Billboard 

“Looking at the painting is like gazing out the window of an LRT train, passing what looks like empty buildings but knowing that people are inside, working, living, loving, perhaps quarreling.  The silence, the mystery and loneliness appeals to me.  It reminds me of Edward Hopper’s vignettes of daily life.” (Starting price: P100,000) 

Iyan De Jesus'
Iyan De Jesus' "Origins In". Signed and dated 2021 (upper left), oil on canvas, 48" x 54" (122 cm x 137 cm)

116 Iyan de Jesus, Origins In 

“There are so many things to observe in this painting. It’s not one where a few seconds’ look is enough. One has to look closely, to scrutinize the work square inch by square inch to understand his message and appreciate his skill.” (Starting price: 100,000) 

Oscar Zalameda's
Oscar Zalameda's "Portrait of Baby Santiago." Signed (lower right), ca. 1970, oil on canvas, 38" x 33" (97 cm x 84 cm)

117 Oscar Zalameda, Portrait of Baby Santiago

“I like portraits and this work is simply marvelous, a work and subject of its time, a beautiful woman evocatively portrayed in the artist’s distinctive style.” (Starting price: P400,000) 

Jaime de Guzman's
Jaime de Guzman's "Mount Banahaw." Signed and dated 1984 (lower right), oil on canvas, 41 1/2" x 41" (105 cm x 104 cm)

126 Jaime de Guzman, Mount Banahaw

“Could this be a view of Mount Banahaw and Mount San Cristobal from a plane window, through a telescope or in the artist’s mind? What do the lines mean, two meeting precisely on the circle’s left edge and the other outside the painting itself? The green area outside the polygon, what could it be? The painting seems an aid to meditation.” (Starting price: P300,000).  

A Silver Candelero • Manila
A Silver Candelero, Manila, 1750-1850, Mexican silver 80%, of Filipino workmanship, 2kgs, 19" x 7" x 8" (48 cm x 18 cm x 20 cm), D: 7 1/2" (19 cm)

155 A Silver Candelero

“Said to have been one of a set of twelve altar candlesticks originally in the Franciscan church of Liliw, Laguna, this rare example of Philippine silversmithing recalls the devotion and artistry of our 18th century ancestors. It’s a true Kingly Treasure.” (Starting price: P260,000)

[The items in this story are open for viewing from November 27 to December 3, Saturday to Friday, from 9 AM to 7 PM, at León Gallery, G/F Eurovilla 1, Rufino corner Legazpi Streets, Legaspi Village, Makati City. The Kingly Treasures Auction 2021 is co-presented by ANCX.ph, the urban man’s guide to culture and style, and the lifestyle website of the ABS-CBN News Channel. 

For further inquiries, email info@leon-gallery.com or contact +632 8856-27-81. To browse the catalog, visit www.leon-gallery.com. For updates, follow León Gallery on their social media pages: Facebook - www.facebook.com/leongallerymakati and Instagram @leongallerymakati.]

Photos courtesy of Leon Gallery