|FLOY QUINTOS AMONG FRIENDS AT GALLERY DEUS.|
Photo by Romy Homillada.
yOriginally published in the Artwatch section of OPINION Weekend (OW) Magazine.
How did a playwright, writer and director turned his passion into a fulfilling profession?
With the blessings of his ‘children.’
Does Floy Quintos tell if a particular bulol or santo, a prime piece of tribal or colonial art, is a good one? “Very Buddhist,” he says in all sincerity.”It’s in the eyes. They should be looking at you, but at the same time,seem like they’re looking beyond you or something deep inside you.”
The award-winning playwright , writer and director is a firm believer in the life force that lives within such cultural antiquities, a force that influences the decisions of this brand new entrepreneur. “It’s this little spirit, a spark of life. It’s the spirituality of the carver and a reflection of how ingrained such spirituality in their lifestyle. You can own a fake, but it doesn’t look at you in the right way.”
Such a primal sensitivity and a collector’s instinct has helped Quintos amass a formidable trove of tribal and colonial sculpture, textiles and adornments—“small and big things, all authentic”—which he began putting together at the age of 12 when he purchased his first P5.00 santo from a shop in Mabini. “I don’t know why I like them." It was probably just a response to something in his soul.
Those were the years when there was still really great stuff in Manila, when walking into an antique shop was an adventure.” Quintos remembers “making connections with mountain people’ on treks to Sagada, Baguio and Banawe—“something I can’t quite do anymore at 41.” He laughs. “Me? Walk in the fields with a camote stick?”
Today, the same folks still look him up in Manila when there’s merchandise for sale, and after having learned his slessos buying the ocassional “mega-dud” and reading up on the subject, Quintos has become a discriminating collector who knows what he wants. Friends have long bugged him to open his own shop. Then, serendipitously, Willie Versoza, owner of the pioneering antique shop Likha and a friend of Quintos, announced he was closing shop after the death of his partner, Jean Louis Levi.
Quintos had been doing some thinking. “I realized I had also amassed so much, and I was wondering, am I hoping to be collecting forever?” The rent was good, the building was owned by a friend, and Quintos, while working constantly in the commercial circuit , was looking for something to revive his weary soul. “I figured this was the career break I’ve been looking for.”
Thus, one month ago, the orange façade and the olive green interiors of Gallery Deus welcomed the public. It was named after the Latin word for “God” which Quintos has always liked for the reference to “the spirit in all of us”.
He was between projects, fresh from directing Ai-Ai del las Alas’ West Coast concerts and on the way to Phuket to direct a TV show, with just one Sunday to spare.He fixed the shop and made the leap from collector to dealer in one day—a move that was a lot tougher than it seems. “I learned to be not so acquisitive.” Quintos laughs.”I painted the shops, put in the shelves, but I kept procrastinating about the actual move and choosing which ones of my children to put on sale. I’ve kept exactly 6 bulols and 5 santos.”
Quintos is at his shop from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. when he isn’t doing a show. He is having a field day treating his windows like production numbers. “This week, it’s called the beheading of John the Baptist; next week will be “Horsey-Horsey, Tigidig-tigidig!”
Seriously,Quintos adds,”I never thought I could do business. Now I’m able to compute, and I guess, like most dealers who love their stuff and don’t look at it as just merchandise, I love to make chika the customers.”
Consistent with his attitude, he doesn’t hard-sell the items. If a sale doesn’t push though though, Quintos assumes that the piece simply “doesn’t want to go just yet.” As a collector, Quintos is glad that Filipinos are becoming more educated buyers of tribal art, even as the levels of scholarships and appreciation are iconically still higher abroad. “It’s the foreigners who know what’s good and what’s special.”
On the personal front. Quintos has beenmore discriminating in choosing projects and is making more time to sit back, gain perspective—and write.”I’ve got about 5 plays inside me that need to see the light, and this kind of work is giving me the time and the inspiration..” With a little help from his friends, of course.