18" x 40",
pen and ink on paper,
"So, how long have you been buying art?" I asked Kerwin while walking to his office at the end of the hall.
"I've been buying these since I was in college," he replied as he ushered me through the door. "I'd save up my allowance and go through the galleries and check out the paintings. There's one particular artist whose work I really saved up for. His painting was the very first one I got. The orange one we passed."
"You mean the one hanging at your office lobby? THAT'S your first artwork? Man, his works cost an arm and a leg now, and you SAVED UP for it when you were in college? "
"Yup, and I worked hard for it, getting some odd jobs here and there. Besides, his works were still dirt cheap back then. Instead of hanging out, drinking beer and watching movies, I saved a bit and now I have THAT on my wall... and a host of other things too."
"You sure have a fortune here."
(Kerwin's a good friend who's built from scratch his own factory and business and is its C.E.O. An avid collector of modern art, he's also built a sizable and rather expensive collection that I would sometimes oggle during those few times I've hung around his office. Aside from his business, he's shrewdly made a good investment in these works of art.)
Don’t stash cash under the bed, buy art
WHEN the market is down, buy. This is the maxim of those who have lots of cash. And if the late Yves Saint Laurent’s art collection auction is any indication, the record-high prices set by the designer and his partner Pierre Berge’s 733-piece art collection is really the sign of the times. On the first night alone of the three-day sale of what Christie’s dubbed as “Sale Of The Century,” it brought already $262 million, as if recession never existed. Piet Mondrian’s canvass composition dubbed avec blue, rouge and jaune et noir, which inspired YSL to create his iconic Mondrian dress, fetched $27,191,525, and on top of it, his art collection also included a Degas, Matisse, Cezanne, Manet, Gauguin and Picasso, among others. If people collected YSL’s designs, the designer collected arts in a very shopaholic way.
Once, I received a P20,000 cash gift from a former employer, and I did not know what I ate that day, but when I headed to the mall, I did not buy shoes nor bags. Instead, I bought two pieces of Juvenal Sanso from Gallerie Joaquin. I am sure those Sanso of mine do not cost P20,000 now, since art appreciates. And given a choice between an Hermes Birkin in crocodile-skin or an H.R. Ocampo canvass painting, I would choose the latter without batting an eyelash. Artworks are investment pieces just like designer bags, but unlike designer bags that you tend to use and abuse, you care for your art collections, even getting insurance just in case it gets stolen or, heaven forbid, a fire hits your place of dwelling.
For the past three years, Trickie Lopa, Liza Periquet and Yael Buencamino have been organizing Art In The Park, a bi-annual event where one can buy artworks starting at P20,000 or below. And as its tagline says, it brings affordable art out of the galleries and under the sun since Art In The Park is being held in Jaime Velasquez-Salcedo Park, next door to Salcedo Weekend Market. It was first held to coincide with the second-year anniversary of the weekend community market. The weekend market has become popular, and so has the Art In The Park. Last year, the group introduced Art After Dark, an evening exhibit under the stars. This year, art enthusiasts trooped again to shop for art pieces. The options were varied and prices were affordable; even art students from FEATI and FEU sold their artworks for a song. I was impressed with Jomike Tejido’s artworks, he used banig (native mats) instead of canvass for his paintings, which is very Filipino. Another young artist, Mia Herbosa, caught my attention. She is the great grand daughter of painters Alfonso Ongpin and national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Her still lifes are quite realistic and mute, with vivid colors of orchids rising from dark backgrounds.
Printmakers’ Association of the Philippines did a seminar on printmaking. Made mostly from metal or acrylic plates passing through a presser, prints sometime sell as much as actual paintings. Five signed prints were raffled off among the attendees. Art In The Park ended by two p.m. and everyone took this as their siesta break for Art After Dark, which started by five p.m. Bea Camacho’s ice carving, “Remember,” was the focal point and was very popular among kids who couldn’t help but touch the letter. White sphere lamps made by Bespoke gave the trees dotting the park a much-needed oomph, and the art connoisseurs snapped pieces with prices higher than P20,000 from Avellana Art Gallery and other galleries.
In this time of recession, art is a safe way to bet and speculate. Rather than hide one’s cash under the mattress, invest in excellent artworks.