THE TWO centerpieces to Salcedo Auctions’ seventh edition of its grand September auction, The Well-Appointed Life, are National Artist Vicente Manansala’s Quiapo, and National Artist Cesar Legaspi’s Descent.

The auction, slated to run from Sept. 26 to 27, includes the Connoisseur Collection (furniture, clothing, and objets d’art) in the morning of the 26th, Important Philippine Art that afternoon, and fine jewelry and rare automobiles on the 27th. The auction runs live and online, with a small number of people allowed in for the live auction, bidding against absentee bidders.

“This one is different in the sense that it’s a representative of a genre of his work, where colors are celebrated very significantly,” said Mr. Legaspi’s son, Dennis, of Descent at an online preview of the auction last week. He noted the colors green and red in the palette. “The significance of that is that my dad, as many know now, was colorblind. He doesn’t see greens and reds except in shades of gray and brown. He actually sees that only in his mind. What he sees are grays and browns. He has a very systematic way of looking at the colors.”

Descent is a 1980 oil on canvas work measuring 53 x 39 inches, which the auction house estimated was worth between P11 million to P15 million. “The National Artist depicts figures whose taut bodies twist in the midst of powerful exertion, their expressions following in similar vein. A recurring motif in the oeuvre of the artist, Legaspi perfects projecting the tension of physicality through the stretched musculature of the human anatomy,” said the catalog’s notes.

“The work is one of liberation as the central figure carries a luminous cloak above the others, spreading soft rays that glaze over and penetrate their extended bodies. The light subsumes a tangible weight, cascading onto the people below as its bearer accepts the limpid cloth-like form with humble acceptance. Its flowing sheets are placid in contrast to the rigid forms below it. A juxtaposition of dark and light, tension and ease, Legaspi presents here his treatise that in as much as there is struggle, stronger still is the opposing presence of hope.”

A portion of the proceeds of the sale of the works by Cesar Legaspi at the auction will be going to fund the community programs of Hands On Manila, Inc.

Manansala’s Quiapo (estimate P4.8 million to P6 million) was created in 1953, just a few years after his iconic Jeepneys. The work is oil painted on board, measuring 19.5” x 24” and depicts a scene familiar to many: the Quiapo Traslacion of the Black Nazarene.

“If you can come, view the gallery, because when you see this painting in person, it really looks like it’s glowing. It’s the way the painting is composed, how the huge doorway allows light to shine on the Black Nazarene during the Traslacion,” said Monica Fernandez, Senior Marketing and Communications Officer for Salcedo Auctions. The catalog notes, “In this powerful depiction of the procession of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manansala captures the phenomenon for what it is — a moment of cosmic intensity brought by a communal religious experience.”

Several more works by National Artists are also up for auction: Jose Joya’s Kundiman has an estimate of P2.8 – P2.95 million, while Ang Kiukok’s Rosary Queen has an estimate of P5.8 – P6.5 million. Another Ang Kiukok, Harvest, is expected to create some buzz, with an estimate of P12.8 – P14 million. Other big names in the catalog include National Artists H.R Ocampo, Napoleon Abueva, and Arturo Luz, along with Mauro “Malang” Santos, Romulo Olazo, Juvenal Sanso, Ronald Ventura, and Ramon Orlina.

In the weekend’s Connoisseur Collection segment, up for auction are a wooden Ferragamo bag, excavated gold artifacts, ancient Chinese porcelain, and two Mariposa sofas. Among the jewelry are a diamond and ruby cocktail ring, a pair of star sapphire earrings, two Patek Philippe watches, and several emeralds of excellent quality.

Salcedo Auctions director Richie Lerma said during the webinar cum launch, “Under these circumstances, we are all apart, in one way or the other, but somehow, it’s art that keeps us together.

“It really gives us joy in the midst of everything that’s going on. I think that’s why there remains that strong interest in art, particularly in the works of the greats.”

Visit to register for the auction on Sept. 26-27, as well as view the catalog. The live auction will be held at the galleries in NEX Tower, 6786 Ayala Avenue, Makati City. —  J.L. Garcia