M GALLERY Pays Tribute to 8 Masters of Mabini Art School


“Still Life-Gong” by Gabriel Custodio, 1956

M Gallery opens the new year with the retrospective art show “Pagdakila sa Sining Mabini: Honoring the Masters of Mabini” Art Sale on February 9, Tuesday, 3 PM.

The exhibit sale pays tribute to eight masters of the Mabini Art School: Cesar Buenaventura, Salvador Cabrera, Jose D Castro, Gabriel Custodio, Miguel Galvez, Paco Gorospe, Crispin Lopez, and Simon Saulog.

"We want to revive appreciation for the Mabini artists," asserted M Gallery owner, Mrs Jeane Enriquez Monteverde, "so we are unveiling previously hidden masterpieces from Mabini to show that all art is beautiful, no matter where they come from."

More importantly, Mrs Monteverde added, "Since some of these are 50 even 70 years old, we are not only selling works by Mabini geniuses, but also prized antiques!"

Reintroducing Mabini Art in the 21st Century

"Now, we're taking the opportunity to reintroduce 31 outstanding works by Mabini artists to Manila's new art audiences: the new and much younger art collectors and aficionados," she revealed.

Headlining the show are two big museum-worthy impressionist pieces by Gabriel Custodio (1912-1993), "Still Life - The Gong" (43" x51.5", oil on canvas, 1956) and "Ruin" (33"x 47", oil on canvas, 1954).

Hailing from Tanza, Cavite, the UP School of Fine Arts graduate of 1939 gained global prominence by having his mural "Fishing Village" displayed at the lobby of the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

“Suman & Mango” by J.D. Castro, 1978
“Vegetable & Pot” by  J.D. Castro, 1979
“Still Life” by Crispin V. Lopez, 1966

Paco Gorospe (1939-2002), from Binondo, Manila, and known as "The Picasso of the Philippines, has three modernist works on sale including the colorful piece called "Musician (47.5" x 35.25', acrylic on canvas, undated).

On sale, too, are the famous still life paintings by J.D. Castro (1908-1994) from Carmen, Nueva Eija, which became famous and much sought-after for their uncanny realism.

There are also portraits from the older brother of National Artist Benedicto Cabrera, Salvador Cabrera (1930-1986), who is known in art circles as "The Quick Draw Artist' for finishing as many as 10 paintings a day.

There is a 72-year-old seascape done in 1948 by Miguel Galvez (1912-1989) from Paombong, Bulacan. He is the first Filipino to win in the South East Asia Art Festival.

Also included is a painting of a beautiful maiden by Simeon Saulog (1916-1995), whose works have made the rounds of the auction circuits, realizing prizes as high as $7,266.

“Scenery” (1980) and “Landscape” (1972) 
by Cesar Buenaventura

For sale, too, is the historical oeuvre "Katipunan" (43.4"x 35.5", oil on canvas, 1976) by Crispin V Lopez (1903-1985). The piece won first prize in the Historical category of the Arts Association of the Philippines painting competition.

The show also features 15 alluring landscapes, one of which is a diptych, by Cesar Buenaventura (1922-1983) from Manila. The son of painter Teodoro Buenaventura, he studied under Maestro Fermando Amorsolo. His peasant life and landscape works have often been compared to those of Vincent van Gogh.

Interestingly, Mrs Moteverde's decision to launch this Mabini show, seen to be the first of many, fimed up when she realized how Cesar Buenaventuras are raking big money in the auction circuit.

"What makes these Mabini artists great is their masterful brushstrokes," she explained "coupled with depth, balance, and colors that bring out feelings that speak to everyone.

Thus, for Mrs Monteverde, this retrospective is aimed at "pure appreciation of beauty and to honoring the goodness of the masters for the people's appreciation."

"I want to magnify only the beauty of visual arts because to let real beauty and truth shine through!" she concluded.

Pioneering Art Supplies in the Philippines

M Gallery started only 7 years ago, with Madame Imelda R Marcos herself cutting the ribbon, but its roots are deeply grounded in the owner's very auspicious family history.

Abstract” by Paco Gorospe

The gallery has been mounting group exhibits by both veteran and young artists since 2014.

Mrs Monteverde is the granddaughter of the Philippines' pioneer art supplies store patriarch Mariano Enriquez, who opened the first and only pre-War art supplies store along Recto in the 1940s and 1950s.

M Enriquez Art Supply started as the only importer, dealer, distributor, and seller of quality art materials becoming a household name among students and artists.

I was a teenager then and I would meet all sorts of artists and students visiting our store to buy their art supplies," Mrs Monteverde recalled. "We catered to architecture and engineering, too."

"Painting then was more of a hobby than a profession," she explained, "artists would sometimes give us their paintings in exchange for art suppliesor simply because they're happy."

This accounted for how the family started to accumulate so many paintings over the period of 50 years. They supplied leading bookstores with imported but affordable top-quality art materials like Grumbacher, Talens, Holbein, and Sakura.

We would have the likes of BenCab, Vicente Manansala, HR Ocampo, Ibarra dela Rosa, Oscar Zalameda, Federico Aguilar Alcuaz, Lopez, Custodio, and Buenaventura dropping in to buy paints and supplies," she mused.

"Many of these works were the artists' own gifts to our grandfather. Others were bought from galleries. Many were procured in bulk from galleries that closed," and, thus, the  Monteverde art collection grew through the years and are now being sold for the first time.

Getting Inspiration from 1930s Architecture

"The architecture was exquisite!" she delighted. Thus, the inspiration to come up with a gallery came from the purchase of the beautiful pre-War Rufino ancestral mansion along Taft Avenue.

Hence, the artworks found a new home. "When I bought the mansion, I knew it would have to be more than just our office," Mrs Monteverde waxed. She now handles the family's importing business.

Traditional Chinese women aren't allowed to inherit and run the family business," she confessed. "So, I concentrated on something else I knew would make a great livelihood, too."

I have always been fond of old things-furniture, lamps, and, yes, paintings-and we used to import shiploads of antique from around the globe," she shared.

"So, we came up with M Gallery or Gallery M, which could mean Masters, Museum, or even Mabini," she teasingly quipped, "depending on how you want to look at it."

M Gallery is open Mondays through Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 AM to 5 PM. For appointments, viewing schedules, and price inquiries, call 8-834-8143 or email mgallery00@gmail.com. Visit mgallery.ph for photographs of their painting collection.

JL Santiago Aquino

A millennial lifestyle blogger from Caloocan City who adores trying new things. ✨ Email: blog.ph7@gmail.com. Follow @JayL_Aquino on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok & Facebook.

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