THE FAMILY of the late National Artist for Visual Arts Ang Kiukok is demanding a public apology from UST after the Beato Angelico Gallery displayed “fake” paintings of the Thomasian which the new gallery administration billed as its first major exhibition since its inception in 1993.

Vita Sarenas, the owner of an art gallery that has been selling Ang’s original works since 1983, told the Varsitarian that Ang’s family feels aggrieved by the incident, especially Mary Ang, the National Artist’s widow who was guest of honor in the exhibit’s opening night last Jan. 31.

“The presence of Mrs. Ang in the exhibit might make an impression that she validated the authenticity of the fake paintings when in fact she never knew about it until that night,” Sarenas said.

Sarenas owns Finale Art File in Makati City. In 1990, the gallery started to authenticate Ang Kiukok’s works with the help of the artist, who died last May.

Sarenas said Ang’s widow doubted the paintings’ authenticity and immediately informed exhibit curator and researcher Mary Ann Bulanadi.

“She told Bulanadi ‘these are fakes, I have the originals,’” Sarenas said.

Bulanadi allegedly promised to pull down the paintings immediately but did not do so.

Bulanadi has refused to comment on the issue but in an interview with “TV Patrol” on ABS-CBN, she said that the matter had been referred to the National Museum.

Further aggrieving the Ang family, according to Sarenas, was the slow reaction of the exhibit officials regarding the incident. It was only when the organizers removed the controversial paintings after they were directed to on Feb. 3 by Father Rector Tamerlane Lana, O.P., who had received the letter of complaint from the Ang family.

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“The students, who are studying the paintings, may have been misinformed about the style and technique of Mr. Ang because they did not remove them immediately,” Sarenas said.

In international auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s, Sarenas said, organizers pull out items in the auction table even on the last second whenever there are allegations against a painting’s authenticity.

Asked why the incident was serious, Sarenas said art cheats could use the UST exhibit as leverage against the original paintings.

“People selling the fake Ang paintings could tell buyers that their items are authentic because UST displayed them in an exhibit,” Sarenas said.

Aside from Ang’s works, the exhibit, “Kuatro,” also displayed works of National Artists for the Visual Arts J. Elizalde Navarro and Victorio Edades, and professor emeritus Cenon Rivera from Jan. 31 to Feb 18. Navarro and Rivera were Varsitarian artists in the late 1940s, while Edades was a dean of the former College of Architecture and Fine Arts.

Sarenas said that three of the nine displayed Ang paintings—”Fish On Table,” “Nuestra,” and “Dog”—do not exist while the other six black-and-white paintings that were displayed are owned by painter Malang, who did not loan the works to the exhibit.

Painted in a vivid, cubistic manner, Ang’s works depict harsh realities which represent the unstable political and social state of the country.

Loan from family, Finale

College of Fine Arts and Design Dean Jaime de los Santos said Bulanadi tried to borrow some of Ang’s paintings from the family and other known collectors.

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“She sent request letters to the family and Ang collectors,” De los Santos said. “But neither the family nor the other collectors responded so we decided to borrow from some UST people who collect Ang paintings.”

Both the family and Sarenas denied receiving any request to loan Ang paintings for the exhibit. The family told Sarenas, as she called them up during the interview, that the only request they received from Bulanadi was for Mrs. Ang to grace the exhibit.

“I myself did not know about the exhibit until I read the announcement in a newspaper,” Sarenas said. Miko L. Morelos

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