Contemporary Philippine art to be sold in London auction
MANILA, Philippines – When organizing my social calendar, I always make room for the growing invitations to art exhibitions, opening cocktails, and private viewings. For the past few years, the Philippines has been experiencing an art boom – the longest surge in years. While masters and established artists have always been sought-after favorites, all eyes are on emerging artists, gauging their talent and longevity while, of course, quietly observing the future value of their works.
At the recent Manila viewing of Andres Barrioquinto’s “Pleasure of Flowers” for the upcoming "Coming of Age: Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art" auction in London, I spoke to Daniel Komala, founder and CEO of Larasati Auctioneers and chairman of One East Asia.
In the early 2000s, Komala was a regular of Christie’s and Sotheby’s in Singapore. Realizing the exponential growth of the Asian art market, he started the company, hoping to create a credible institution to promote Asian art and artists. It was a huge undertaking back then – his friends and industry peers thought that it was crazy for him to establish an auction house in the middle of the Asian Financial Crisis. Surprisingly, he had a great first year since most of his buyers were professionals who kept their money in US dollars – which gave the clients more than 3 or 4 times the normal purchasing power.
On November 9, 2017, Barrioquinto’s work, as well as the works of other Asian artists, will be put on auction at The Westbury Hotel in London. I had a chat with Komala and Veronica Howe, director of One East Asia, to ask how they intend to bring Asian art and artists to the global scene.
What is the challenge for Asian art and artists in the international setting?
Komala: The challenge for us is, “Do you wanna be champion in your own village, or go to the West and see how you stack up against the rest in the field?” As long as the West doesn’t take your art seriously, you’re stuck. That’s why we’re going there, because we have nothing to prove [over at] this side of the world. Barrioquinto is the champ here. We’ve been showing his work and other Filipinos abroad to basically show to the West that this is for real.
What is your approach to the Western market?
Komala: This time around, instead of an exhibition, we have an auction. We want people to see the process. When you have an exhibition, you buy something like you buy a piece of steak, and that’s it; you don’t see the chef, you don’t see anything else. With auction, you see the action...how to get the piece.
How many pieces will be at the upcoming auction?
Komala: Only 20 pieces, but this is basically a well-curated exhibition that we are selling by way of auction.
Why the particular attention to Barrioquinto?
Komala: I’ve seen him grow from just a talent to a maturing talent. I think it’s a privilege to see how the artist grows. My love story with Filipino art goes way back from when I started promoting Filipino art in 2007, from Ventura to Tapaya. Our intention was to show people that Filipino art is more than Amorsolo that has been selling in Christie’s and Sotheby’s. A big attention will only come if the domestic market is also supporting the local art market. And, it finally happened 4 or 5 years ago in Manila and it continues until now.
Can you say that Philippine art stands out in the Western art world?
Howe: I think Philippine art is very distinctive, especially in the figurative aspect of it. They paint and they draw beautiful anatomy. Whether it’s blissful or tragic, they do it outstandingly. I think, in that way, they are very distinctive. – Rappler.com
“Coming of Age: Modern & Contemporary Southeast Asian Art" will happen on November 9, 2017, 2 pm London time, at The Westbury Hotel in London. For more information, visit Larasati Auctioneers' website at www.larasati.com.