16 rare Ossorio masterworks unveiled at León Gallery

A Makati exhibit brings a new generation of art lovers and students face-to-face with the legendary work of Alfonso Ossorio

by Mio Borromeo

An exhibit in Makati brings a new generation of art lovers and students face-to-face with the legendary work of Jackson Pollock’s Filipino contemporary

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Ossorio (center), with the help of fellow artists Athos Zacharias (left) and Sal Sirugo (right), hangs one of his paintings for a gallery show, New York, New York, February 19, 1961. Photo by Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images.

Several mixed media pieces and assemblages by the Negros sugar baron who became Long Island’s real-life Gatsby will go on exhibit today, February 5, at Makati’s León Gallery (G/F Corinthian Plaza, 121 Paseo De Roxas cor. Gamboa St, San Lorenzo, Makati; 856 2781), the country’s premier auction house for historically important and museum-quality art.

The exhibit Alfonso Ossorio (1916-1990): Afflictions of Glory includes details of many of Ossorio’s significant works, such as a watercolor-and-ink painting featured in a monograph by Ossorio’s close friend and founder of Art Brut, Jean Dubuffet, and a model sketch for the sanctuary mural at the St. Joseph the Worker Chapel in Victorias, Negros Occidental.


Detail of ‘The Last Judgment (Angry Christ)’. Photo via ‘Art After War: 1948-1969’ by Patrick D. Flores.

Liliane Rejante Manahan, who has overseen the restoration of the mural of “The Angry Christ” in Victorias since last year, is one of the exhibit curators, alongside art consultant Lisa Guerrero Nakpil and gallery owner Jaime Ponce de Leon.

“Ossorio consciously pulls out from his own life events and transforms them into a visual language all his own,” Manahan writes in a catalogue accompanying the exhibit, “ilustrating a lost and repressed childhood, religious and racial conflict, sexual tension, deep-seated parental angst, a sense of non-belonging, in the refined and meticulous rendering he is a master of, crowded with symbols and equally complicated as his life as he viewed it.” The catalogue considers the various stages of artist’s life through several essays by the curators and art writer Cid Reyes.

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# 8: ’59. 1959, Sand, pebbles and resin on wood 48 inches x 5 inches framed Signed and dated on the reverse. Provenance: Gift from the Artist probably in the early 1960s. Private Collection, Europe.

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Unknown Woman. 1951, Grease-pencil, wax, and watercolour on paper 30-1/3 inches x 22-1/3 inches.

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Number 14. 58. 1958 Mixed media on wood 26-1/2 inches x 98-1/2 inches framed Signed and dated, 2 August 1958, on the reverse Provenance: Gift from the Artist c. 1959 Private Collection.

Afflictions of Glory will run until February 22, after which some of the works on display will be privately sold while the others will be returned to private collections from which they were loaned.

“It is high time that the art of Alfonso Ossorio were known and hailed,” writes Reyes. “More significantly now, with this timely centennial exhibition, and in the country of his birth.”

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Alfonso Ossorio at work on possibly one of his oil, white lead and impasto works. Betty Parsons papers, Artist File: Ossorio, Alfonso, Announcements and Catalogues. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian.