Jose Joya, John Santos, BenCab topbill auction-fundraiser at Salcedo Auctions
(The Philippine Star) - February 24, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - “Our March 8 auction is close to becoming a museum exhibit on Philippine art history,” says Karen Kua-Lerma about Salcedo Auctions’ much-anticipated twice-yearly sale offering old and modern Philippine masters and leading contemporary artists. 

Started only two years ago, the â€œImportant Philippine Art” sale at Salcedo Auctions, with lead partner Citigold, is widely considered today by art insiders to be the barometer of the Philippine art market, attracting a highly select group of serious collectors and resulting in bids that have set world and local auction records. 

The selection for the March 8 sale certainly lives up to expectation. The works range from a “Golden Period” 1941 Fernando Amorsolo, very rare early BenCab acrylic and inks from his 1968-69 “Scavengers” series, to iconic pieces by Vicente Manansala, Ang Kiukok, and Fernando Zóbel, among others. Significant paintings by leading contemporary artists are also represented, including Santiago Bose, Rodel Tapaya, Alfredo Esquillo, Mark Justiniani, Jigger Cruz, and Ronald Ventura, featuring the second of only four self-portraits that the artist ever made.

Lerma adds: “Works by National Artist Botong Francisco rarely come to the market. He passed away quite early, and so he did not have a large body of work, making Botongs rare and highly collectible. Here at Salcedo, we have two.” She is referring to idyllic watercolors of Angono being offered by collectors who knew the artist personally. These pieces also have the ultimate stamp of approval: Salvador Juban, the assistant and apprentice of the master, has identified details in the painting that make them truly by Botong.

Among the 85 lots on offer, several artworks are being sold to help raise funds for the visiting fellowships program of the Asian Cultural Council Philippines Foundation (ACCPF).

The ACCPF Fellowships allow selected Filipino arts practitioners to deepen their knowledge through international exposure, and to build professional networks. Over 300 artists and scholars have benefitted from this program, including the likes of National Artist Jose Joya who is, quite serendipitously, represented in this auction by a work from almost every period in his career: a 1958 oil from the collection of a distinguished lady collector who frequented the legendary Philippine Art Gallery (PAG), the first commercial gallery to champion modernism; a 1974 interaction mural with Solomon Saprid, et al; a 1980 oil on board; a 1983 acrylic collage; and a 1991 painting featured in the monograph published by the artist’s family.

BenCab, Elmer Borlongan, Jose John Santos III, and 2012 ACC grantee and Ateneo Art Awards winner Riel Hilario are some of the artists who have donated artworks to this year’s fundraiser. 

The Asian Cultural Council, based in New York, was launched in 1980 with the sole mission of supporting cultural exchange between the United States and Asia and within the countries of Asia, carrying forward the mission of its predecessor, the Asian Cultural Program, which was established 50 years ago by John D. Rockefeller III.

“Salcedo Auctions is the Philippines’ auction house, and so we take great pride in working together with the Asian Cultural Council on its 50th anniversary to benefit Filipino artists.”

The “Important Philippine Art” auction is scheduled on March 8, Saturday, 2 p.m. at Three Salcedo Place, 121 Tordesillas Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City. Preview is ongoing until March 7, Friday. The online catalogue is available at To inquire: or phone 659.4094 / 823.0956.

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