Private historical art collection on public view this weekend

Salcedo Auctions launches a new exhibition series called “Private Art, Public Lives.”

Through its gallery and exhibition arm Salcedo Private View, the auction house takes us to the private art collections of some of the country’s premier collectors and purveyors of Philippine art and artifacts.

Gold masks, rare maps, ecclesiastical arts, and even an assortment of anting-anting (amulets or charms)—Salcedo Private View’s latest exhibition, A Passion for Connections and Their Narratives, looks like it came straight out of a historical museum. In reality, it’s just a portion of the extensive and eclectic private art collection of top banker Edwin Riego Bautista and his wife, Professor Aileen Beltrano Bautista.

The exhibition, which opens to the public for only this weekend, is the inaugural edition of ‘Private Art, Public Lives,’ a series of shows featuring collections in private hands.

Aileen Bautista’s gold artifacts collection. Photos from Salcedo Auctions.

“‘Private Art, Public Lives’ is a realization of a dream to support the educative work of our museums, a sector that I worked in for over a decade and where I got the inspiration for the new program,” shares Richie Lerma, Salcedo Auctions’ chairman and chief specialist.

“Building on the trust that we enjoy and the collective expertise of Salcedo’s specialists, we felt that it was our duty to begin sharing—indeed, opening up—important collections that have remained in private hands all these years.”

Curated by acclaimed playwright Floy Quintos, A Passion for Connections and Their Narratives is sectioned thematically, guided by how the objects link to one another in an unfolding narrative of the ongoing search for nationhood.

Islands, Partners and Colonizers, examines trade partnerships with various Southeast Asian polities, as well as the gradual identification of our island kingdoms as one colony of Spain,” Quintos states in the exhibition notes.

Aileen Bautista fondly talks about this painting which depicts trade relations between China and pre-colonial Philippines.

“Visualizing the Faith includes santos in wood, ivory and silver, with a sub-section titled A Faith Proclaimed Through Splendor to showcase colonial jewelry and adornment from Aileen Beltrano Bautista’s own collection. A Secret Spirituality is devoted to ‘anting-antings as a language of resistance.’ Its sub-section, Re-Imagining the Divine features mamarrachos, or folk santos—unique in their unorthodox portrayals of holy personages— carved by local artisans.”

A grand altar filled with ecclesiastical artifacts.
Edwin Bautista’s anting-anting collection elevates what’s just often considered as “lucky charms” to objects symbolizing nativist resistance.

“The last section, Building, Defending Nations, is a poignant visioning of our journey to nationhood, narrated through battle-captured Philippine flags as well as indigenous and Katipunan-related armament,” Quintos concludes.

The exhibition also features several Moro weapons and flags.

Lerma notes that with Quinto’s insights, A Passion for Connections and Their Narratives invites viewers to craft deeper understandings and critical assessments of the depictions of our history.

“For example, it is a common notion that we got the intricate craft of filigree from [Spain], but in reality our artisans were already practitioners of this fascinatingly fastidious form of embellishment before they arrived, as you can see from some of the excavated gold jewelry,” the chief specialist explains. “These are insights that Filipinos can truly be proud of, achievements outside of the ‘international recognition’ tropes that have been sadly misused and distorted by the Barnum and Bailey characters in our midst.”

“When these objects of varied types are shown “in conversation” with one another, narratives and continuums are formed. In the end, more than the objects themselves, it is the narratives they offer that fascinate both Edwin and Aileen,” Quintos explains. “These narratives explore moments of our history and facets of our battered yet evolving psyches.  It is in the stories these objects tell, that the range of Edwin and Aileen’s interests are best explored.”

Private Art, Public Lives : A Passion for Connections and Their Narratives from the Collections of Edwin and Aileen Bautista will be open to the public on September 2 and 3, 2023,  9 am-6 pm at Salcedo Auctions, NEX Tower, 6786 Ayala Avenue, Makati City. Follow @salcedoauctions on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

Features Associate

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