Art/Style/Travel Diaries

Hans Brumann resurrects his gallery—on his own terms

The jeweler and artist inaugurates the space with works by two old friends, Jörg Stähli and Impy Pilapil

'Melting Glacier' by Jörg Stähli

In the midst of the bustling Makati Central Business District, Galerie Hans Brumann is an oasis. Away from the street noise, you are soothed by the strains of Vivaldi and Bach. Where else in the Philippines can you find an art gallery with such refinement?

Watch artist Impy Pilapil at the gallery:

The owner, Swiss-Filipino jeweler Hans Brumann, has no plans of retiring. When he saw the 288-sqm basement of Legazpi Park View Condominium, he just had to take it. Not only could he reboot Galerie Hans Brumann, which lasted 10 years at Greenbelt 5 under the care of the late gallerist Desiree Dee,  it also offered a lot of storage for his art collection.

“We have many things in our attic. If we needed something, we need to get up on a ladder. I have so much art, some are kept under the bed,” says the 82-year-old.

The exhibit space itself is some 150 sqm, while the other rooms will be used for storage. With an artist’s gallery, Brumann decides, on his terms, the artists and works that deserve to be exhibited. It also provides an opportunity to unload his collection. Then there is a space for his sculptures and reliefs. Yet, it is also a commercial gallery earning from the sale of art.

‘Bird’ by Hans Brumann


‘Broken Circle’ by Hans Brumann

To inaugurate his gallery, Brumann invited close friends as his co-exhibitors.

Swiss jeweler/painter Jörg Stähli was his classmate in goldsmithing school. His works at the gallery are impressions of Jungfrau, one of the summits in the Swiss Alps. Images of ice capped-mountains, valleys, autumn trees, and mountain rivers are rendered in cool and warm colors. Instead of making an initial sketch on the canvas, Stähli immediately lets his brush strokes loose. This freedom and ease of strokes often disguise a disciplined composition. The broken strokes, as revealed by noticeable marks either from the knife palette or brush, convey hazy forms and pure colors, and emphasize the effect of natural light.

Where else in the Philippines can you find an art gallery with such refinement?

Brumann’s longtime friend sculptor, Impy Pilapil, produced The Atlantic Series, five table sculptures made from rocks from Romblon. These were complemented by five reliefs in steel express germinating sprouts as the start of life.

The Atlantis Series is based on the myth about a great civilization which rose and sank into the ocean. If history would repeat itself, that civilization would emerge yet again.

Pilapil is attracted to limestones that have been naturally dislodged from caves in Romblon. Sculpting from intuition, she feels the rock and looks at its design potential. The rock’s contours and crevices dictate the final art form. Each work is a play of shiny and smooth textures playing against craggy surfaces. Some sculptural details resemble marine spines and rays sprouting out of the stones. One sees the skill of polishing and carving one side of the piece down to perfection, while leaving the raw and rugged beauty of the rest of the stone.

‘Emergence’ by Impy Pilapil

‘Mystery Series’ (four pieces) by Impy Pilapil

Intricately carved in natural marble, Atlantis Rising is an abstraction of that great civilization. While the other sculptures look like abstract marine forms, Nimbus resembles a grayish rain cloud with its vesicles and series of  humps.

Brumann frequently collaborates with her, as he admires her unique style. “She has a distinct line –all hers. It’s not easy for other artists to come up with her designs,” he says.

Brumann’s permanent collection is his series of reliefs and montages of exotic hardwoods highlighted by mother of pearl. The themes vary from abstract to architectural detail and landscape.

Like Pilapil’s sculptures, his artworks explore materials. Some of the old woods such as narra and molave are salvaged architectural pieces, while the mother-of-pearl surfaces are provided by suppliers. The reliefs follow the same discipline of jewelry design in terms of proportion and aesthetics.

Brumann’s goldsmith works with Cavite artisans who mount the jeweler’s detailed plans for the reliefs and montages.

Always trying to find something new, Brumann plans to make sculpture using found driftwood in Romblon, where Pilapil sources her stones and marble.

In January, Brumann has scheduled the exhibit of Lito Carating, whom he greatly admires.  He reveals plans to unload works of Fernando Modesto. When he was an endorser in a Dove commercial four decades ago, he was given a watercolor by Modesto as a token. After several decades, Brumann now wants to edit his collection.

As for the 2024 lineup, the coming shows would be dictated by the owner’s gut feel and exacting standards.

‘Nimbus’ by Impy Pilapil

‘The Window’ by Hans Brumann

The inaugural exhibit will end Dec. 30. The gallery is located  at Legaspi Parkview Condominium, 134 Legaspi St. cor. C. Palanca, Legaspi Village, Makati.

About author


She is a veteran journalist who’s covered the gamut of lifestyle subjects. Since this pandemic she has been giving free raja yoga meditation online.

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