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We’re halfway there


As the country slowly reopens, perhaps some art is all you need to make the transition a little bit more bearable. 

This is why Leon Gallery, in partnership with, will be having its mid-year auction for 2020 on June 20. 

Here’s a quick preview of what to expect. 

Juvenal Sansó (SN 10) 


Juvenal Sansó’s detailed renditions of nature have a captivating, poetic appeal noted by critics. One also encounters his distinct approach to surrealism through his flower paintings. His art style is noted by art historians as straddling expressionism and surrealism. 

Justin Nuyda (SN13) 


To call the works of the acclaimed visual artist and master Justin Nuyda a product of Abstraction or Abstract Impressionism would be doing a general disservice to the hidden genius and potential tucked away within the artist’s meticulous and alluring swatches of color and light. While one can argue that Justin’s works fall under the aforementioned umbrella term with its impressionistic and gestural visual cues that are undoubtedly hallmarks of the age-old artistic movement, a closer look reveals that his works seem to occupy an unusual and otherworldly divide between the purely abstract and sensuous and the distinctly representational and realistic.

Betsy Westendorp (SN 14 and SN 31) 


Known for the atmospheric stillness she brings to her works, Betsy Westendorp manages to capture the fleeting moment of beauty that exists in nature. A still life of contemplative calm, the painting is a celebration of nature’s quiet but extravagant gestures. Betsy’s love of flora and landscapes comes through in her paintings, a notable, palpable vivacity and excitement.

In SN 31, she brings the inherent lyricism of everyday life as she paints the mundane with utmost regard. Her subjects seemingly inhabit a nostalgic aura that can tap into the viewers psyche, revealing the spirited yet fleeting aria of their youth. Her work is a bittersweet love song that acts both as an ode to her younger and more unassuming days and a lullaby, reminding us of the inherent beauty of the ethereal moment.

Jason Montinola (SN 26) 


Tradition meets present-day familiarities in Manila-born visual artist Jason Montinola’s works. His paintings tap into the subconscious and have surreal features as he renders classic art historical subjects. In Montinola’s paintings, the presence of a void is one of his most recurring themes. Darkness is also often used as a tool in illuminating subjects. He renders figures with obstructed faces, un-conceived facial features, masks, headdresses, and caps in dark background, inducing a sense of hollowness to the viewers. One also gets to sense an absence of identity, instances of disappearance, and invisibility upon encountering these figures. 

Antonio Garcia Llamas (SN 30) 


Antonio Garcia Llamas, fondly called Tony, is one of the most celebrated Filipino artists and portraitists of his time. He produced portraits of prominent individuals from the elite circles of the Philippines, Indonesia, and Spain. 

Jigger Cruz (SN 41) 


The work is expectedly mind-boggling: a menagerie of colors heaved onto the canvas until the paint becomes dimensional and palpable, much like creatures unnervingly stalking their prey in the dead of night, creeping out of the surface and into the realm of the real. It aches for you to empathize: Webbed and jagged paint desperately latch onto the frame until a predominantly cerulean landscape lures the viewer in. Drippings of a vivid color cry over a blank surface as the textures jump out of the painting as shapes, ready to take on whole forms. But there is peace amid the destruction, found in its horizontal patterns where a sense of unity is born out of utter chaos. 

Anita Magsaysay-Ho (SN 33) 


The only female member of the Thirteen Moderns, the outstanding group of Filipino modernists, social realist, and post-cubists, Anita Magsaysay-Ho is widely considered one of the greatest Filipina artists best known for her paintings of Philippine themes and Filipino women. More than observing rural life, she went fishing with her mother, pulled fishing nets with her brother, and played with fellow children on the farm. She also watched peasant women and their gestures and tried mending fishing nets and pounding rice. 

Lao Lianben (SN 35) 


Abstractionist Lao Lianben is often inspired by poetry and words, visually interpreting concepts out of it and translating its meaning onto the canvas. His exhibit and artwork titles are also noted by viewers upon approaching his art to grasp its conveyed meanings. 

This painting is named after his original 1976 Art Association of the Philippines Art Competition award-winning piece Tryst. The word tryst means “an agreement to meet” or “an appointed meeting”; Tryst 7 is one of his captivating works with a sense of inner settling, a product of painting from within. Meditative and philosophical, it leads the viewer to embrace stillness in the course of arriving at one’s self. Depth of feeling is achieved through his mindful, sophisticated brushstrokes, muted color, and spare details. 

Marina Cruz (SN 42) 


The works of Marina Cruz are often rife with a palpable aura of historicity. Her technique seemingly mirrors the meticulous craftsmanship involved in the art of sewing and needlework. The dress as subject matter is intertwined with the brilliant subjectivity of the artist herself. Marina’s art is meticulously contemporary, concerned with the conflicting nature of the strong fabric design and the actual aging process of the fabric—the visibility and invisibility of its subject, the simultaneously physical and yet ethereal nature of the painted image.

Mark Justiniani (SN 45) 


A man wearing a crown is a recurring figure in artist-activist Mark Justiniani’s works. Upon encountering this figure in many forms, even without visual details of an audience, one can interpret them performing in front of viewers. This particular painting has a figure of a man in front of an audience of famous personalities—from Picasso and Freddie Mercury to iconic movie characters like Star Wars’ Princess Leia, Star Trek’s Spock, Charlie Chaplin, and Edward Scissorhands, among others—who is about to wear a crown that seems to float above his head. 

Mark leaves the interpretation to the viewer, whether the man is seen as merely performing or showing its power and position to the people. One gets to figure out who the featured personalities are, which is part of the mystery and fun. This painting also shows Mark’s distinct art style that reminds one of children’s book illustrations and his notable works that serve as socio-political commentaries. 

Pacita Abad (SN 99) 


As arguably one of the most well-known and influential Filipino artists on the world stage, visual artist and painter Pacita Abad’s oeuvres have proved themselves, time and time again, as not only mere paintings or works of art, but sweeping odes and hymns to the vitality, mystery, and diversity of human life and experience. This piece is emblematic of Pacita’s early career as a painter. Still rife with rage and fury over the crimes of the Marcos family and his regime, Pacita’s paintings are primarily done in a proto-primitivist style that used the aesthetic elements of pre-colonial Filipino tribes, but imbued with a sense of nationalism that seeks to free itself from imperialistic strife.

Malang-Kiukok-Yonzon (SN 124) 


Events recorded in Genesis have long inspired Filipino artists both of the past and present in their art making. In this iconic 1974 three-panel masterpiece produced by Mauro Malang Santos’ collaboration with Ang Kiukok and Hugo Yonzon Jr., the Filipino-ness of this theme can immediately be observed. Even Adam and Eve have Filipino features, from the Oriental built to the skin color. The Creation and Adam and Eve, considered universal themes and subjects, are playfully interpreted with each celebrated master artists’ genius cubist art styles and depictions of elements with a twist. The overall coherence makes their streaks of brilliance all the more evident. 

The Spectacular Mid-Year Auction 2020 will be held at Leon Gallery on June 20. | (028) 856 2781

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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