Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ming Dynasty pottery and art for a home

It's so nice to be back in Manila. My first day back in town was full of work and all kinds of fun. After a general meeting for Travelife Magazine, off I went to a very enjoyable lunch.


In the afternoon, I drove over to a building in Fort where the artist/ collector/ interior designer Ivan Acuna has a ground-floor studio and penthouse gallery. I was supposed to pick up two paintings I'd purchased, but I ended up staying longer than expected because we'd gotten into a very animated conversation about Ming pottery. Ivan is a collector of precious pottery ware from the Ming Dynasty, and he truly has an amazing range of rare items which he usually either sells privately to collectors or at auction at Sotheby's in Hong Kong. He'd successfully auctioned off a couple of items in Hong Kong recently, and he's planning to consign another beautiful piece at the next Sotheby's auction in the fall.

"One of these pieces paid for this apartment," he told me, gesturing to a beautiful blue-and-white piece. "They're really rare and are highly sought after by very rich Chinese collectors who appreciate the fact that many Ming dynasty ware are created by artisans. Some of the pieces from older dynasties are cruder in terms of painting technique and were oftentimes made by slaves rather than artisans. Chinese collectors realize this and this is why Ming dynasty pieces are so popular."

Apparently he'd collected most of his Ming wares in Mindanao a long time ago, from Muslim families uninterested in old heirloom pieces, and who preferred things that were new. Over the years he'd amassed a wonderful collection, many of which had similar items in international auction and museum catalogues. I leafed through these catalogues and some of the prices easily ran into at least six figures in dollars.

Ivan's dream is to set up his own museum/ foundation in the future in which he can exhibit some of his prized possessions. Then he showed me the two paintings he'd made for me, and they were both lovely and full of red and gold. I was planning to place these side-by-side in my dining room and to change a few artworks around, but earlier this evening, I realized that these might be better off displayed by themselves. I'll probably wait to get a friend's second opinion over the weekend.


Today, it was from one art venue to another. After leaving Ivan Acuna's studio, I headed across Makati to Pasong Tamo to attend the opening party of an exhibit by the young artist Risa Recio at The Pietro Collection, which has just relocated to the La Fuerza compound. The Rodrigo sisters, Winnie and Rachelle, had the brilliant idea of displaying Risa's works amidst beautiful furniture pieces and interior items so that it's possible to imagine the works in a home setting arranged by famous interior designers -- and this certainly makes it easier as well to imagine the paintings in your own home.

"These exhibits make me feel like redecorating my own home," I told Rachelle and Winnie, as we walked around the different exhibits. I bumped into lots of friends and acquaintances, including a couple of Travelife Magazine contributors and Stephanie Reese, who'd sang at the Gawad Kalinga Hope Ball I'd helped organize last year. Stephanie, who has an amazingly powerful voice, is flying to Las Vegas next week to perform at the GK Hope Ball- United States at the end of April. Yes, the GK Hope Ball we founded last year was so successful that GK America was inspired to recreate an American version.

I also met several people who say they love Travelife Magazine and also avidly follow this Travelife blog. In fact, not a few knew by heart details of our travels and our experiences. "I only read about you in the newspapers and follow you in the blog, so I know you've just been in Sri Lanka," one guy I hadn't seen in years said. While a girl wanted to know: "I'm so intrigued. Who's J? And why hasn't he been appearing recently?"

To her question, I answered: "I can't tell you. But he's around."

Meanwhile, the art exhibit at the Pietro Collection is really an exhibit within a store, and a great party as well, full of interesting people and serving great food care of Gaita Fores' Cibo. I had a really nice bowl of pasta here and would have even gone for seconds, except that I had one other party to head to and then a dinner, before finally calling it a night.

The evening ended almost as pleasantly as it had started, with an al fresco Filipino dinner on tables strewn with banana leaves in a magically-lit garden.

Just another day in our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful, Travelife.

Interested in the Travelife Turkey Tours
for May 2011?
Click here to watch an interview on ANC
with Christine Cunanan,
Travelife Magazine Publisher

Travelife's Special Summer Issue
with Angel Aquino in Boracay
Angel Aquino in Bora
for Travelife Magazine's April-May 2011 issue


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