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.