January Auction for Abot Tala

Abot Tala’s partnership with the country’s premiere auction house, Leon Gallery pushes strong with an online auction this coming January 23 and 24, 2021. Following are pieces that will go under the hammer and part of the proceeds will go to support Abot Tala’s mission of re-envisioning school for teenagers.

The lovely lady depicted in the artwork has a mysterious and enchanting gaze as if contemplating what is happening in today’s confusing world. The artist, Rellie Liwag, painted this a few years ago, a prophetic painting indeed. 

The person seems to be looking beyond the bird like how it’s a challenge for us to look past what is in front of us, to find hope.  The bird could represent the burdens we carry on our shoulders which eventually will fly away and dissipate. The bird looks up as if to say, let us not lose faith.  We shall prevail — a message we need to hear more now.

Artist, Fred Agustin is always inspired by the energy and passion of people in the field of arts (visual artists, musicians, dancers, actors, writers, poets) — how they work and spend hours and years doing what they love to  express, and pursue their creative muse, whatever it may be urging them to do so.  The fire and spontaneity can be seen and felt.  It is something that resides deep in all of us waiting to be unlocked and released.

Fred says, “I try to paint what my eyes cannot see. . . . I’d like to think that when I paint – I paint with my soul.”

Seventeen year old Alexa Yap always felt that art is a conduit of human experiences.  Life may be messy but art has to the ability to contain the dichotomies and contradictions.  What words can’t adequately express such as grief, sorrow and pain, art can.

When she was 15 years old, Alexa painted this work called “Lamentation” during a time in her life when she couldn’t explain why she felt such immense melancholy and apathy.  Despite what some people say disparagingly about choosing art as a career, Alexa is set on pursuing her dream of creating concept art in the entertainment and gaming industry.

Regarding Abot Tala, Alexa says, “Alternative schools are always intimidating to some as there is a stigma of whether it is considered to be a ‘proper’ way of teaching and learning. But learning is at the core of the human condition and it is at that supple and tender age that we should be exploring the world around us.  As a person who adores art, I wish that I had something like Abot Tala.”

When Monica Castillo delivered her speech as the Grand Prix winner in an international art competition in Seoul, South Korea two years ago, she shared what is most important to her as a person in the creative industry: “To see the world through the eyes of a child.”  “The harsh realities of life can easily get any adult to see the world as nothing more than troublesome or uninteresting,” but Monica hopes we never forget to let our inner child take control every now and then.

Her painting of a train suspended in haze shows both forward movement and stasis. Engulfed by nature, sharp edges and clean lines give way to chaotic shapes.  Progress is relentless but nature endures.

A recent graduate of the Tokyo University of the Arts, Monica also taught the teens of Abot Tala last year.  She saw for herself how teens are encouraged to love learning in an environment of curiosity, wonder and acceptance. 

This piece also by Monica Castillo entitled, “Lupang Hinirang at ang Yaman Ng Dagat” was inspired by several elements of the Philippine heritage: the biodiversity of our waters, the depth of our native language known as baybayin and the beauty of the simple ancient art of Pintados.  Monica observes how Filipinos tend to take for granted the richness of our cultural and natural heritage.  She hopes that our love for the treasures that we have been given will be renewed and cherished.

For Monica, unlocking limitless possibilities starts with a point, following it to where it leads with painstaking commitment and love.

Interior Designer, Tessa Alindogan does not plan her paintings.  When she sits in front of the canvas, it is only then that she decides what to do.  “Art is an expression of one’s soul and on that day, my soul decides and my brush just takes the cue.  My brush dances to the dictates of my soul.”  This almost spiritual process can’t be put in words – that feeling of being on a different plane, of enjoying solitude much like when you savor music and unchoreographed dance. 

Tessa’s aesthetic sensibilities infuses her interiors, her art and her life.  She has passionately pursued her interests and that is why Abot Tala’s mission resonates with her since teens have the freedom and flexibility to follow their interests and passions. 

Let’s also celebrate the Filipino artists: Ibarra dela Rosa and Jose D. Castro from Nueva Ecija, Jerry Morada from Paete, Laguna and Japat Guevarra from Taytay, Rizal.

Ibarra’s productive life as an art professor and celebrated artist was cut short at 55 years old in 1998. His Impressionist style, sense of color, and subjects have an enduring appeal.  He had a distinct brush stroke similar to the pointillists though slightly larger and like a comma which he called “wipings”.

Morada’s interest in history expressed itself in nostalgic paintings of a bygone era. His early fascination with old photographs empowered him with a vision that was to be his guiding style. His depiction of the Filipina is true to the classic image of Maria Clara, imbued with character, strength and femininity.

Both Jovito Andres and J.D. Castro depict the beauty of Filipino family ties, the parent-child bond which is a theme that touches everyone.  Both artists capture these fleeting moments of togetherness and care, giving it permanence in our minds.

Through his paintings, Japat transforms machines into powerful storytellers through fantastic automotive hybrids from past centuries. Mechanical and organic at the same time, the imagery sparks realizations about the clockwork universe and transience.

Celebrated nomadic painter and activist from Batanes, Pacita Abad is known for her boldly colorful, vibrant artworks inspired by her extensive travels and continuous exploration of materials.  In 2004, she passed away at the age of 54 leaving behind a legacy of art that not only nourishes the spirit but drew attention to issues that were close to Pacita’s heart: displaced people, refugees, women’s issues and social justice.  While still being treated for cancer, she completed her painting of Singapore’s Alkaff bridge, filling it with her signature circles that continues to bring smiles and joy to pedestrians.

This prized collector’s item, Pablo Neruda’s book of love poems and a song of despair signed by the renowned poet himself will be auctioned on January 24, a day after the art pieces go under the hammer.  The proceeds from this sale will not only partly go to Abot Tala but mostly to sustaining a beautiful library on an islet in Lake Caliraya and other community libraries as part of the Library Renewal Partnership started by Quintin Pastrana. 

While he was studying at Georgetown University, Quintin acquired this opus from a Washington-based Chilean diplomat in the winter of 2007.  Enamored with the Neruda treasure, Quintin had to sublease his apartment for a month to absorb the cost of acquisition.  As part of his diplomatic mission, the Chilean diplomat traveled with Neruda and his entourage. The diplomat eventually retired in Chile during the post-Pinochet era while Quintin eventually returned to Manila and among many other things, launched his continuing love affair with building and stocking community libraries all over the Philippines. 

Check out the auction catalog at the Leon Gallery website.

Check out also the Abot Tala website and Abot Tala YouTube Channel.

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