Actor and Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez‘s painting which fetched nearly P200,000 featuring a male sex organ prompted Filipinos to question what makes an artwork valuable in the first place.
Titled “OOOOHH,” the 48″x48″ painting was rendered using black and yellow acrylic paint on wood.
It is on display at this year’s ManilArt, a public art exhibit that runs until October 13 at SMX Convention Center in Taguig City.
Gomez’s painting was valued at P196,000.
It was also displayed at last year’s edition of Art Fair Philippines under the booth of contemporary art gallery Secret Fresh.
LOOK: Actor Richard Gomez's paintings are displayed at the Manila Art 2019.Last 2018, Gomez's painting of a male genital was also quite the talk in the art world and on social media. 📸: Jayvee Araneta
When a social media user shared a picture of the actor’s painting, the online community immediately went abuzz with reactions.
Some claimed that vandalisms of the same figure found in public bathrooms were rendered “much better” while others thought it was a “disgrace” to legitimate artists who are forced to sell their paintings for “very low and inequitable prices.”
Richard Gomez is not a visual artist. I repeat, Richard Gomez is not a visual artist. 196K for his yellow dick painting??? HS studes vandalizing their toilets do a much better job with their dick drawings.
— Melinda BA 🇵🇭 (@melindific) October 10, 2019
Watda?! Art un? Such a big disgrace to all the "legit" Filipino artists in our country who are forced to sell their paintings on the streets at very low and inequitable prices just because they are "nobody", unlike Richard Gomez. 😢 https://t.co/B4dgskv8sS
— Chikee Bolima (@chiky_kulit) October 10, 2019
Another Twitter user offered reasons why Gomez’s painting was costly despite its perceived simplicity.
: TITING DILAW: Why is Richard Gomez’s “OOOOHH” sold at Php196k, while penis sketches at bathroom walls worth nothing?
(a thread) pic.twitter.com/jLjPs3U8jc
— Hanzel (@HanzelEveryday) April 13, 2018
“The art world, or the economic aspect of art production and distribution, does not work in the same landscape as with common consumer products. Basically, the prices of art are largely dictated by the works’ cultural and aesthetic value,” user @HanzelEveryday said.
He pointed out that an artwork’s price depends on factors “such as the artist, the work itself in relation to other works of the artist, what others say about the work, and its collectible value.”
The Twitter user said that while Gomez is still considered a “neophyte” in the art world as he hasn’t created a body of works yet, his status as an actor and politician elevated the perceived value.
“However, in my opinion, what pushed his work’s price value at Php196k is his status as a public figure and the perceived collectible value of his work, as his ‘early work’. In the art world, an esteemed artist’s ‘early work’ is always pricier,” the user added.
Gomez, apart from being a city chief, is also a longtime actor who earned several awards and Gawad Urian nominations at the peak of his film career.
He previously shared that fellow actor Ian Veneracion was the one who influenced him to paint as a hobby.
The price of art
In the most basic economic terms, artworks are generally costly due to “high demand and a shortage of supply,” according to a global art market newswire.
“Art is inherently unique because there is a limited supply on the market at any given time,” Artnet News noted.
The newswire quoted a New York-based art curator who said that an artwork’s price is determined by “an artist’s exhibition history, sales history (if any), career level, and size of artwork.”
“Sometimes, production costs are factored in as a cost that needs to be recouped,” Augusto Arbizo of New York’s of 11R gallery said.
Artnet News added that such factors like an artist’s appeal, his significance in terms of art history and whether or not his artwork represents his known style are also considered.
“Fashionable artists who are being talked about, who are getting exhibitions with important galleries and museums and lots of coverage in the press, are more likely to sell for a high price,” the newswire said.
“In the current market, people are interested in what’s new and hot, artists who are going to be the next big thing, or established, recognized, brand-name artists,” it continued.
If an artist’s work is also included in an important or high-profile art gallery or a collection that features influential and respected collectors, it might drive its price higher.