Modern Living

Collecting anG kiukok

There is very little that I can say that would add to the already legendary legacy that National Artist Ang Kiukok is destined to leave to Filipino culture. He’s an artist who has always painted from his heart in spite of many years of his art’s non-acceptance; his work was truly ahead of its time as paintings that were unsold in the Seventies and Eighties are some of the most sought after works today.

Fondly referred to as "Mr. Ang," he refers to his myriad of old works hanging on his home’s walls as "paintings which nobody wanted to buy," and considers himself lucky that he still possesses many of his early works. His favorite painting – a 1980 Pieta – is one such painting. He relates that this painting was brought home by a client only to return it the following day because his wife found it too depressing. It now proudly hangs in Ang’s living room and is the first painting you see upon entering his home.

Because Kiukok’s body of work is already well documented in the many articles that have been written about him and from his book Deconstructing Despair, I sought to discover his work from the eyes of his most ardent and passionate collectors. Simply asked "What is your favorite Kiukok and why?" these individuals — from the owner of Ang’s only gallery, Finale Art Gallery’s Vita Sarenas, to high-end framer and Arte Casa owner Ton Chua to Ang’s most prolific collectors – provided a fascinating insight and a rare peek into the psyche, not of the artist, but of the collectors who have seen Ang’s art develop over the years. Although some have extensive collections and others a more modest one, the things these people have in common are that they have seen many, many works by Ang; they share a limitless passion for his work and that they all have the deepest respect for a very gifted and talented man.

Since Ang Kiukok is widely recognized for painting recurring subject matters, most collectors find themselves attracted to a particular subject. In conducting these interviews, what was most surprising to me was that almost no two individuals chose the same subjects for their favorite paintings except for Vita Sarenas and Dr. Jaime Laya.

A blessing in disguise, this diversity in selections fortunately provides an improbable cross section of most of Ang’s subjects. And not only is it a diverse representation, but it is quite arguably a rare illustration of the very best of the best of his works in each genre.

Comprising works from the Fifties to the Nineties, from Lovers and Cats to Screaming Figures and images of Christ. Some are sad and some are painful. Some are peaceful while others are frightening. What they do have in common is that they are all vintage Ang Kiukok: Emotional, expressive, powerful and beautiful. This is the honor, joy and most of all, the privilege shared by all owners of an Ang Kiukok.
* * *
Ang Kiukok’s annual show "New Works" runs at Finale Art Gallery, 4th Floor, Lao Center, Makati Ave. corner Pasay Road from December 16, 2003 to January 4, 2004. Call 813-2310.

Arte Casa Frames is located at the 4th floor, Lao Center. Call 893-5415.

Deconstructing Despair, which features over 800 color plates, documents the works and chronicles the life of Ang Kiukok. It is available at Finale Art Gallery.

For comments, e-mail me at [email protected].










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