Lot 90 | Auction XXXVII



LOT 90


B. Philippines, 1931 – 1995

Prelude to Violence, 1972

Signed and dated “Joya 1972” on lower right
Title, medium, date and size inscribed on the verso

Oil on board

120 x 79 cm

Provenance Private collection, Kuala Lumpur

RM 120,000 – RM 250,000


Born in Manila, Philippines, in 1931, Jose Joya was a multifaceted, pioneer, modern and abstract artist active in painting, printmaking, mixed-media and ceramics. He was regarded as the main artist who spearheaded the birth, growth and flowering of abstract expressionism in the Philippines. The artist’s mature abstract works have been said to be characterised by calligraphic gestures, linear forces, and a sense of color vibrancy emanating from an Oriental sensibility. The robust hues of the Filipino landscape inspired Joya’s sense of color and his use of rice paper in collages demonstrated an interest in transparency.

His innate talent flourished at the age of eleven. At a young age, he became passionate about studying architecture, but learned that he did not have the aptitude for math and science. While attending the University of the Philippines, he was introduced to the paintings of Fernando Amorsolo, and that marked his study of painting. He was initially schooled in the traditional standards had been set by Amorsolo and Tolentino, but he gradually leaned towards American abstraction and the emerging trends in Philippine modernism. He studies under the mentorship of Guillermo Tolentino, Ireneo Miranda, Domindaor Castaneda and Virginia Agbayani.

Joya graduated from the University of the Philippines (UP) in 1953 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art, earning the distinction of being the university’s first Magna cum Laude. In 1954, the Instituto de Cultura Hispanica of the Spanish government awarded him a one-year grant to study painting in Madrid. After returning from Spain, Joya pursued a Master’s Degree in Painting in 1956 at the Cranbrook School of Art in Michigan, USA with the assistance of a Fulbright Smith-Mundt grant.

When the artist returned in 1962, served as the President of the Art Association of the Philippines, together with Napolean Abueva, represented the Philippines in the prestigious Venice Biennale – the first time that the Philippines had participated. The late 60’s garnered grants from the John D. Rockefeller III Fund and the Ford Foundation, which allowed him to paint and study at the Pratt Institute in New York between 1967 and 1969.

Joya’s works utilized a variety of techniques, including controlled drips, impasto strokes, and transparent layering. “In creating an artwork, the artist is concretising his need for communication,” the artist has said of his practice. He has an irresistible urge to reach that level of spiritual satisfaction and to project what he is and what he thinks through his work. His artworks, often inspired by the tropical wildlife of his home country, were painted with bold, vibrant colors. In this 1972 Prelude to Violence work, he paints loose, gestural strokes using a harmonious earthy palate of beige, brown and orange – an abstract beauty that transcends foreign influences.