2. Solomon Saprid, Sculptor par excellence
The first time I met Solomon Saprid was when my wife Cecilia ask him to go to our house, to commission a sculpture. She wanted him to make two pieces on the same theme: The Fisherman. She wanted him to make it exclusively for her, making him promise to sell her any other sculpture he makes on the same Fisherman theme. She paid, I believe P10,000 for each. That was during Martial Law.
We became good friends. He dropped around one day to tell me that he is doing painting also, and won’t I please pose for him. He painted a portrait of me that made me look like I was a 20-years old. He also gave me a paperweight about the size of a fist and portraying a man and woman making love.
One day, when he was in the house, I mentioned that I wanted to buy a Botong Francisco painting, even just a small one, and told him to look one for me. For which I am willing to pay P50,000.
He smiled and said, “What a coincidence! I think I have one in my car.”
We went to his car, and he showed me a pencil sketch of two people fighting with arnis, a preliminary study by Botong Francisco for one of his murals. “My God,” I said, “that is exactly what I wanted. How much is it worth?” Oh, Solomon said, “about P80,000.” I whipped out my checkbook, and said, “To whom do I make it out to?”
Solomon smiled and said, “Kung pera ang pinag-uusapan, hindi bali na. This painting is not for sale. It is yours for free.” I could not believe my ears. “Free? As you crazy?” Solomon put the painting back in the car, saying, “Kung ayaw mo, di huwag!”
No, no, I said, “I accept.” The painting of Botong is still in my possession. My friend Anding Roces later told me, “My God, Sol came from my house where I gave him that same painting!” Anding is here, we have come to a full circle.
Later, my classmate AurelioMontinola Jr. fell in love with Cecilia’s two statues of The Fisherman, and offered to buy one of them. Politely we refused. So he went to Solomon Saprid to commission another Fisherman. Solomon Saprid told him that Cecilia gave him the original idea, and that he promised to sell her all other Fisherman statues he made.
Aureling and Solomon came to the house to beg Cecilia to allow Aureling to buy one, arguing that a Fisherman in the Montinola Collection which was open to the public would enhance all the other Fisherman statues in our possession. Cecilia being an astute art collector and businesswoman, readily agreed. That is how Aureling got his Fisherman.
Cecilia died in Paris in 1993. Solomon the painter gave me a painting of a nude, and I bought a second one.
Then one day he came to the house and presented me a sculpture of a scorpion, a conversation piece in brass, with a head that looks like a penis and somewhere a depiction of a vagina.
For me? I exclaimed. No, Solomon replied, “I made it for Cecilia, because she was born on November 22 under the sign of Scorpio. But it was so bastos, I did not have the nerve to give it to her. Well, Larry, knowing your penchant for sex, now that Cecilia has passed away, I give it to you in her memory.”
Solomon is no more, and I am sure he is with my wife Cecilia sculpting for her. But for us he is not dead. He lives in the things of beauty he has left behind.
EDSA Art Plaza, November 20, 2003, Dec. 18-19 2003, DWBR-fm