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Senator Loren Legarda has filed a resolution calling for the creation of a National Registry for Fine Art to help preserve and promote Philippine art, as well as to protect Filipino artists from forgeries.
The resolution was filed after a painting - mistakenly identified as the work of a National Artist - was found being offered for sale in the international market.
"The National Registry for Fine Art will register all cultural properties deemed important to the country's cultural heritage, especially works by artists with the titles Manlilikha ng Bayan and Alagad ng Sining. It will go a long way in ensuring the quick identification and destruction of forgeries committed against Filipino artists," she stressed.
The Senator filed the resolution after a group of art lovers and collectors asked Christie's in Hong Kong to remove a painting from its auction catalog.
The Friends of Manansala - an organization of art lovers and collectors of paintings of National Artist Vicente Manansala - asked Christie's to remove "The Bird Seller" from its auction catalog.
The said artwork was mistakenly attributed to Manansala; it is similar to the artist’s original painting, "The Birdman," which is already part of a prominent Manansala collection.
“The whereabouts of ‘The Bird Seller’ is now unknown and this raises the possibility it might again be passed off as genuine work, becoming available once again in the art market once the controversy dies down. Moreover, artworks of questionable provenance and authenticity but are attributed to Filipino artists both deceased and living have surfaced over the years,” Legarda pointed out.
Legarda also encouraged living artists to register their artworks in the proposed National Registry for Fine Arts through the current Philippine Registry of Cultural Property to provide information and reference on the provenance of important works. By supporting the creation of private organizations composed of art collectors of known integrity and probity, the issue of provenance or origin of artworks created by now deceased artists may easily be established.
Legarda noted that Republic Act 9105, otherwise known as the Art Forgery Act of 2001, penalizes art forgery, such as affixing or causing to appear a usurped or forged signature or sign on any artwork of fine art imitating or reproducing any work of fine art with intent to deceive the public or the buyer as to the authenticity of the work.
“We must review the implementation of this law and step up our efforts in ensuring artistic integrity and guarding the cultural legacy of Filipino artists and their artworks to our country,” Legarda said.