National Artist Jose T. Joya’s ‘Space Transfiguration,’ oil on canvas, 1959. (MB File Photo)
National Artist Jose T. Joya’s abstract painting Space Transfiguration just fetched P112 million (hammer price was at P96 million) from a starting bid of P22 million at the Leon Gallery Auction in Makati last Saturday.
The sale, which took all of 20 minutes, broke all records. It is the highest price ever paid for art in the Philippines at auction and it is also the most money ever paid at auction anywhere in the world for Philippine modern art. Moreover, Joya’s 60” x 70” oil on canvas, said to be inspired by NASA’s first attempt to reach the moon, now replaces Ang Kiukok’s The Fisherman, which sold for P65,408,000 in June 2017, also at Leon Gallery, as the most expensive painting ever sold at auction in the Philippines.
The identity of the winning bidder, whose bids were placed by phone, remains unknown.
Jose T. Joya was a painter, printmaker, mixed-media artist, and ceramicist. He was credited for spearheading “the birth, growth, and flowering of abstract expressionism” in the Philippines. He was dean of the UP College of Fine Arts from 1970 to 1978 and chair of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts from 1987 until he died of a stroke in 1995. In 2003, eight years after he died, he was elevated to National Artist in honor of his efforts that pioneered and developed Filipino abstract art. / The Manila Bulletin / Updated By AA Patawaran
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