Arts and Culture

Pinoy artist breaks records at Christie's auction despite pandemic

Kathleen A. Llemit - Philstar.com
Pinoy artist breaks records at Christie's auction despite pandemic
Ronald Ventura (right) and his painting 'Party Animal'
Ronald Ventura via Instagram, Christie's website, screenshots

MANILA, Philippines — A Filipino artist's work fetched a whopping HKD19, 450,000 (about $2.5 million or P119.8 million) at Christie's live auction last Monday, May 24.

Ronald Ventura's "Party Animal" is potentially record-breaking as it is believed to have the highest price paid for an artwork done by a living Filipino artist.

The 2017 acrylic on canvas painting was estimated to fetch at around HKD 800,000 to HKD1,200,000 at the "20th and 21st Century Art Evening Sale." The piece from a private collection in Asia was exhibited in Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York, from October 2017 to January 2018.

Ventura was born in Manila in 1973. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from the University of Santo Tomas where he also worked as an instructor after his graduation.

According to his ArtNet page, Ventura held his first solo exhibitions in 2000. "All Souls Day" was held in Drawing Room in Makati City while "Innerscapes" was held in West Gallery Megamall in Mandaluyong City.

His first exhibition in the United States was at Tyler Rollins Fine Art Gallery in New York in 2009. The same gallery hosted his "A Thousand Islands" show in 2011. That same year, Ventura’s "Greyhound" sold for $1.1 million at Sotheby’s Contemporary Southeast Asian Painting auction in Hong Kong. The website described Ventura's style as "multi-layered paintings, which utilize a broad range of imagery and tend to focus around the human form."

The artist also makes sculptures that feature the same themes and aesthetics as his paintings.

Prior to this, Ventura's 13-foot hyper-realistic graphite, oil and acrylic “Grayground” piece went under the hammer as among Asia's priciest paintings at that time when it was sold at HKD8,420,000 or approximately P47 million at a 2011 Sotheby’s auction.

Before Ventura, Frida Kahlo-inspired Geraldine Javier was believed to be the living artist with the most expensive painting sold. Her “Ella amo' apasionadamente y fue correspondida” (For she loved fiercely, and she is well-loved) oil painting with embroidery and preserved butterflies fetched HKD 1,460,000 or approximately P8.8 million at 2010's Christie’s auction in Hong Kong.


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