Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Great Evening at the Ateneo Art Auctions

What a wonderful afternoon and evening at the Ateneo Alumni Art Auctions today, at Finale Art Gallery in Makati, organized by Dr. Leo Garcia and Dr. Jimmy Laya. It's always relaxing to spend time in the midst of beautiful art, and how nice to be indulging in such a pleasurable past time for a good cause.

Auction and travel partners in crime

I attended the auctions today with Jojo and Fides, my auction buddies and fellow art enthusiasts (As well as fellow travelers in crime! We'd traveled to Paris twice in the space of four months and had such a great time checking out Paris' best restaurants and exploring the city about some of our exploits in past entries in the Travelife blog), and with Beliz, my good friend who some of you might remember from the cockroach dinner episode earlier this week.

We sat right up at the front to have a good view of the paintings all around and also of the action around the room. All of us had bidding paddles although none of us had really made up our minds to bid on a specific painting -- which is quite unusual for four very focused people. Nevertheless we ended up bidding on a couple of paintings, and some of us went home with some lovely artworks.

In the beginning, the auction went a little too slowly. Obviously, the very in-demand paintings were placed in the second half of the event.

"I think everyone should be encouraged to have another glass of wine, to encourage them to bid more," my friend Jojo whispered. Fortunately, the auction heated up and the finale left everyone with a very good feeling about art, philanthropy and the Ateneo.

Taking a chance on young artists

I myself arrived at the auction venue without any particular painting in mind, but thinking that I would anyway bid on something as this was for a very good cause. I oftentimes go to auctions in this frame of mind and anyway end up bidding on several things. At this year's Ateneo art auctions, I was particularly excited to see the works of Norman Dreo and Rodel Tapaya, two young and very talented painters with an international following, who I was lucky enough to get paintings of a couple of years back. I purchased a large portrait on burlap by Rodel Tapaya at the very first Ateneo auction, and then last year I bought a very large and realistic painting called Ukay-ukay by Norman Dreo. Both had been purchased at what I would call very reasonable prices.

Well, perhaps the art market is in a frenzy mirroring the fantastic rise of our local stockmarket, but the prices of Dreo and Tapaya at the auction tonight were just amazingly high. Of course, that made me happy as the owner of works by these artists.

"Why have the prices risen so much?" I asked someone well-connected in the art world tonight. Well, it seems that Tapaya has been selling very well at Sotheby's Auctions in Hong Kong -- and so local interest and prices have risen as well -- while Dreo is being avidly collected by Singapore art lovers.

Happy with my own paintings

What do you think I did the moment I went home from this event where both Dreo and Tapaya fetched record prices (at least at the Ateneo auction)? I put on all the lights in my living room and sat in the middle, appreciating all the artworks I have picked up at auctions. I've gotten quite a few by now and it's been a mix of famous artists and young painters; but I must say that the Dreo and Tapaya are my favorites. I'm so happy to have purchased these at previous auctions.

The very in-demand Geraldine Javier

This year, I began bidding on a lovely painting of a home by Geraldine Javier, an artist so hot that it's almost impossible to get a painting of hers on the open market. I usually don't buy very hot artists as I don't like the frenzy accompanying them and find that their prices are already so high -- it's so nice to buy an up and coming artists at the early stage and then to see their career develop and the prices of the artworks appreciate, of course -- but I found this particular Geraldine Javier painting so attractive in composition and colors. I knew there would be a mad dash for her work and had already set a price ceiling for myself, knowing that it would almost be impossible to get the painting at my desired price. Well, the painting went for a sum much, much more than I had imagined.

The surprise of the evening!

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was the sale of the beautiful Ang Kiu Kok oil painting called "Pieta" at the very end of the show. The starting bid was around 1.8Million PhP, which already I thought was pricey for the painting. However the market estimate was around PhP 2.5 Million. Well, it turns out that so many people had their eye on it and even past the PhP 3 Million mark, there were a handful of bidders still prepared to pay big bucks to bring home this painting that was once owned by a former senator and also a writer.

The painting eventually went for PhP 4 Million, and to a nice and unassuming looking young couple. The husband in particular smiled a lot and looked very shy at all the attention whenever he raised his paddle for the most expensive painting in the show.

When the hammer went down, there was a huge applause all around. It had been an exciting bidding war, the guy was pleased to now be the owner of this highly-coveted painting, and everyone else was so happy to have raised an additional PhP4 million for the scholarship funds managed by the Ateneo Alumni Association, just from this painting alone. Throughout the evening, I marveled at the camaraderie of the Ateneo alumni as funds were raised -- it truly felt like one big family, and one that I am immensely proud to be part of.


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