An art col­lec­tion with a lib­eral dose of wit and hu­mor

A dis­tinctly eclec­tic art col­lec­tion in the time of post-ma­te­ri­al­ism


A wide flat arch­way splits the town­house ground floor into a tri­par­tite space: the foyer be­yond, and the liv­ing and din­ing rooms within. Even at the thresh­old, one can feel the foun­da­tions of a happy home. Here is a haven in which art and dé­cor are mem­o­ries made tan­gi­ble. Bal­ance is struck be­tween the walls and its inan­i­mate oc­cu­pants, bound by the sound­less con­ver­sa­tion the pieces are hav­ing with each other.

A rhythm res­onates through­out the house. A 20th cen­tury Ja­panese tansu next to the din­ing table echoes the hard­ware and pro­por­tions of an 18th cen­tury Ilo­cano sakang table in the sala, which like­wise re­lates to the legs of a ’50s narra table. The spon­tane­ity of post-war ab­stract ex­pres­sion­ism is coun­tered by the sculp­tural qual­ity of bu­l­uls from north­ern tribes.

Ev­ery piece comes with a story or a strik­ing mem­ory; ev­ery piece means some­thing. Their place­ment says more than the home­owner’s cul­ti­vated un­der­stand­ing of the syn­tax of mod­ern de­sign—it’s an al­most play­ful in­ter­pre­ta­tion of lines, pro­por­tion, and sym­me­try. Much of the fur­ni­ture was done by close friends: the white sculp­turesque dis­play table by Ken­neth Cobon­pue, a lu­song- in­spired rat­tan din­ing table by Obra Ce­buana, and vin­tage din­ing chairs by pi­o­neer­ing ex­porters Me­hita­bel. A mir­ror in the foyer is framed by art­works from the home­owner’s dear friend An­nie Cabigt­ing and etches rem­i­nis­cent of sheet mu­sic and cityscapes by mu­si­cian and new artist Datu Arel­lano. There’s a tinge of hu­mor to the place­ment of a Seletti mon­key lamp, as if the sculpted pri­mate were both ex­am­in­ing and il­lu­mi­nat­ing the paint­ing hang­ing be­side it: a rare piece from Ar­turo Luz’s bot­tle series. Ron­ald Ven­tura’s con­tem­po­rary ren­di­tion of the pre-colo­nial bu­lul makes the sign of the horns and raises its hands. Upon the Ja­panese tansu is a vis­ual pun: carved hands taken from an­tique stat­ues of saints are dis­played next to a vase shaped like paint­brushes.

There’s an el­e­ment of fun and, in some ways, ir­rev­er­ence to the com­bi­na­tion of pe­ri­ods, move­ments, and medi­ums all in a sin­gle space. Per­haps it’s to de­vi­ate from two extremes that of­ten linger in many Filipino homes: on one end, a suf­fo­cat­ing hor­ror vacui, and on the other, stark empty spa­ces.

Neg­a­tive space be­comes a foil or a frame for pow­er­ful pieces. A strik­ing black and white

pho­to­graph of coiled snakes, taken by Jed Es­cueta, hangs in the liv­ing room. Di­rectly op­po­site this, a lay­er­ing of art­works on the din­ing room wall re­volves around an ex­pres­sive Floren­cio Con­cep­cion paint­ing from the ’60s. Bal­ance, rather than cre­at­ing per­fect mir­ror im­ages on both sides, cre­ates equi­lib­rium among the vis­ual weight. While there’s room left for breath­ing, there is also room for con­ver­gence.

In a space de­signed in a man­ner that is both de­lib­er­ate and or­ganic, the pieces do not merely fit to­gether. They be­long. •

Post-war ab­strac­tions re­in­force the curves and tex­tures of north­ern ri­tual fig­ures, a French chrome and frosted crys­tal lamp, Art Deco bronzes, and an acid-etched Daum bowl.

Top: A cen­ter­piece that once be­longed in the liv­ing room of Yves Saint Lau­rent’s Chateau Gabriel. Left: Upon the solid narra foyer table, a rare Rocha sculp­ture, a 1920s di­naderie dish by Claudius Li­noissier, and within, works by Francesco Vez­zoli and...

Top: Ron­ald Ven­tura’s sub­ver­sion of the bu­lul stands watch over a group­ing of trin­kets, in­clud­ing opera glasses and art deco boxes. Bot­tom: The din­ing room, crowned by a 1960s Ital­ian chan­de­lier, is a space to eat and drink with great art.

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