Philippine Daily Inquirer

November 21, 2005

Cheers for Sansó
By Jack Teotico

On Oct. 9, SANSÓ’s 29” x 38” work “Felicidad” (Happiness) was bidded out during the 20th anniversary auction of Southeast Asian art of Sotheby’s in Singapore. There was inspired bidding and the work settled at double the original estimate.

To celebrate the sale and pay tribute to the artist, Galerie Joaquin will hold a show of Sansó’s works, “Felicitations,” on Nov. 26 at the Main Activity Center, 2/F The Podium.

Modesty has always been one of Sansó’s most endearing qualities. An artist who grew up in the Philippines, he has become an internationally renowned artist whose works are in the top museums in the world.

He also holds the distinction of being adjudged first-prize winner in the 1964 Cleveland Museum of Art competition for his “Leuers.” Previous winners were Salvador Dali and Henri Matisse.

His works are represented in the collections of Philadelphia Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Cleveland Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum, Smithsonian Institute, Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of New York, Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris, Rosenwald National Gallery of Washington, art collection of the City of Paris, Royal Academy of Madrid, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

His collectors include the Rothschild family, Nelson Rockefeller, Vincent Price, Elsa Schiaperelli, Jean Cocteau, Prince Michel of Greece, Princess Chubhot of Thailand, Joseph Pulitzer Jr. and the Soeharto family of Indonesia.

Awards and distinctions came early to Sansó, whose family moved to Manila from Catalunia, Spain, in 1933. He studied at the UP School of Fine Arts and the University of Santo Tomas.

In 1951, he won the grand prizes for both oil and watercolor in the Art Association of the Philippines contest.

Recently he was chosen among the 11 artists from the Philippines whose works were featured in the 20th-anniversary auction of Southeast Asian art by Sotheby’s. The other artists were National Artists Fernando Amorsolo, H.R. Ocampo, Ang Kiukok and Arturo Luz, Romeo Tabuena, and the Old Master, Felix Resurrecion Hidalgo.

Despite the achievements, Sansó remains self-deprecating.

“Laurels are good only for adobo but not on one’s brow if taken seriously,” he said, in jocular reference to the spice leaf usually added to the famous Filipino dish.

Although he has now decided to come home permanently to the Philippines, Sansó says his stay in Paris helped him put things in the proper perspective.

“It has helped keep you very modest. Some of the best museums in the world are just a metro or bus ride away. You can see a Cezanne, a Vermeer, a Velasquez, a Goya—and seeing all these great masters can really cut you down to size.”
In Paris, Sansó would start working at 7 a.m.

“When I work, I work like a brute,” he said, working punishing 10- to 12-hour workdays in Paris.

He usually worked long hours during summer, when there was longer available light, or until his arms felt like falling apart and his eyes ached from the strain.

During winter, it would become difficult to work by mid-afternoon as there was less light, so he would usually concentrate on drawing.

As a tribute to this hardworking and highly talented artist, his collectors and friends have decided to put together a show of their favorite Sansó works.

“Felicitations” will feature 40 works of the artist, who turns 76 this Nov. 26. Twenty-four works will come from collectors while the rest will come from Galerie Joaquin’s collection.

There will be a preview of the works on Nov. 24. Call 7239253, 7239418 or 6347954. Visit