Leon Gallery is holding what it calls a “Magnificent September Auction” tomorrow, September 28. as of today, its catalogue for tomorrow carries a work entitled “Heart Assemblage” that it has wrongfully attributed to Santiago Bose.
Leon Gallery has been contacted about this major faux pax (i am being kind) by the family of Bose. a letter received by the gallery on September 16 from Bose’s wife Peggy asked that Leon Gallery “kindly and immediately remove the name of Santiago Bose as the creator of ‘Heart Assemblage.”
11 days since, as of 1:09 PM today, Bose’s name is still appended to this work that isn’t his. the artist of this untitled and unsigned work has since claimed it: Rene Aquitania, also a Baguio artist.
Leon Gallery insists this is a Bose work though, yet they have NO PROOF that it is. the write-up on the catalogue obviously celebrates the icon that is Santiago Bose, where attributing this work (or any work for that matter) to him is equal to the monetary value of the work, too.
the mere fact that this painting has been put into question though, warrants that it be removed completely from that Leon Gallery catalogue. unless of course they have the sense to attribute it to its real artist Aquitania, and put it up for auction as such.
prove it ain’t about the money Ponce de Leon. or you know, prove you got balls to admit your mistake. the art scene will be the better for it.
below are excerpts from Lille Bose’s blog entry “Is it Art, or is it Fart?”.
click here for the rest of it.
<…> my family, with the help of the folks who run Tin-Aw Gallery (they represents my dad’s work), investigated. Right before my father died in 2002, he commissioned a catalog of all the works he’d ever created; numerous drawings, prints, paintings, sculpture, book cover illustrations, written work, installations, and videos, were documented and cataloged by his assistant in 2001-2002. No mention or documentation of a work called “Heart Assemblage,” with a similar description or dimensions, existed.
My mother visited Leon Gallery to look at the painting, where gallery owner Jaime Ponce de Leon claimed that the painting was acquired directly from the artist himself. Ponce de Leon said that the signature was probably hidden in the alibata; a claim that sounded ludicrous as my father would never hide his signature.
Through phone calls and emails to friends, my mother learned that in fact, the painting was acquired from Wahoo Guerrerro, an acquaintance from the 1970s. Wahoo’s daughter Katya told my mom that the painting must have come with the sale of the building owned by Briccio Santos, who also owned Brix Gallery that was in the building itself. Briccio, and his wife Peachy, owned Cafe Amapola in Baguio. The space contained a gallery, and it was a hub for Baguio artists in the 1980s. It was where many young and aspiring Baguio artists exhibited their works. The work was produced around the time that my dad worked with several apprentices in Baguio; artists such as Perry Mamaril, Jordan Mang-o-san, and others. It was a time when his growing influence was seen in the works of many Baguio artists. My mother figured that the painting was exhibited at Cafe Amapola prior to the sale of the building and mistakenly attributed to Santiago Bose because the buyer thought it had some similarity to his work. Unfortunately, this wrong notion was never corrected.
There was conjecture about the possibility of a Santiago Bose signature in the back of the painting, but Leon Gallery had replaced the backing because it was old and worn-out.
At around this time, my mother explained the matter, in an email and a hard copy of a letter (received by Leon Gallery on Sept. 16) sent to Ponce de Leon. She also asked him to “kindly and immediately remove the name of Santiago Bose as the creator of ‘Heart Assemblage.’” Leon Gallery never removed it — and in fact it is still in their Issuu catalogue today. My mother never heard back from Ponce de Leon, or anyone from Leon Gallery.
The question here <…> is how did this happen? Why won’t a gallery do due diligence on the provenance of a painting that they are auctioning? How can they stand by a work knowing that it is being questioned by the family of the artist? That is a question for Leon Gallery, and we do not know the answer to that yet, as they never replied to our correspondence.
My mother believes this was a case of a mistaken notion that was perpetuated without malice. But for a gallery with a huge responsibility to its clients, there has to be a systemic check of provenance.
Apparently, Jaime Ponce de Leon told Tin-aw and my mom that the title “Heart Assemblage” was just a title invented by the current owner. That’s not a practice that I’ve ever heard any gallery do before; in the absence of a title, it would just be acknowledged as “Title Unknown.” So what does that say about the integrity that Leon Gallery gives to the work they sell?