MANILA – Gigo Alampay, founder and executive director of the non-profit Center for Art, New Ventures, and Sustainable Development (CANVAS), conducted a social experiment during the recently concluded Art in the Park in Makati.
Alampay and his group sold an unsigned painting by National Artist Ben “BenCab” Cabrera, testing the public if they would consider buying something from an unknown artist.
“We sold this artwork at Art in the Park today. It was unsigned and we told people who asked that we didn’t know who the artist was because it was consigned to us and we didn’t realize we didn’t know by whom. So we told those interested that we would inform them later once we found out the name,” he said.
“One person liked it enough to buy it even if he didn’t know who did the piece. Just before leaving, he said with a smile that he hoped our mystery artist would grow up to be someone important.”
Alampay then informed the buyer that the “mystery artist” is none other than Cabrera. “Well, nagdilang-anghel ka, sir! Your artist is all grown up and now goes by the name of BenCab!”
It was certainly a lucky day for the unnamed buyer as he was able to score a Cabrera painting at less than P50,000 – the maximum price for any artwork sold at Art in the Park.
Cabrera has often been hailed as one of the most important figures in the Philippine contemporary art scene.
He has his own museum in Baguio and is among the city’s popular tourist attractions.
Meanwhile, Alampay said they also tried selling an unsigned painting by another prominent artist, Manny Garibay, during last weekend’s Art in the Park.
“Alas, not all treasures are meant to be found, and not all hunts come to a satisfying close. This unsigned Manny Garibay piece was on display for a full seven hours. And while some hunters came really, really close, no one was able to close the deal by 5 p.m., our self-imposed deadline,” he said.
“But no worries. Their loss is the children’s gain. This work will now be sold at full price, with all proceeds going to our One Million Books for One Million Children campaign.”