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Pioneers of ;Philippine

Art LUNA AMORSOLO ZOBEL

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AYALA FOUNDATION . INC .

FILIPINAS HERITAGE LIBRARY j

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Pioneers of Phi Iippin e Art


Pioneers of Philippjnf' Art LUNA AMORSOLO ZOI3EL

Rod. Paras-Perez Santiago Albano Pilar Emmanuel Torres

AYAlA FOUNDATION. INC


Book Design: Francisco Dopy Doplon Photography: Joey de Veyra

Copynght Š 2004 Ayala Foundabon, Inc. 10lF Bank of the Philippine Islands Main Bldg, Ayala corner Paseo de Roxas Avenues, I 200 Makatl City, Philippines Tel. (632) 8945620 All nghts reserved, No part of thiS publication may be reproduced or used In any form or by any means whether graphic, electroniC or mechamcal-,nclud,ng phot OCOPYing, recording, taping or through other digitized Information storage and retrieval systems without wntten permiSSion of the publisher. ISBN 971-8551-39-5 Layout and production by ArtOne Design & Communications, Inc. Color Separation by Unrted Graphics Pte, Ltd. Pnnted by The House Pnnters, Inc.


CONTENTS

FOREWORD Jaime Zobel de Ayala ............................................................................. .. .........

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PREFACE Florina H. Capistr.ano-Baker.. JUA

LU A: The Blazinl\ Cornerstone

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antiago Albano Pilar ............. .. ........................................................................

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FER A DO AMOR OLO: The Gentl e Rebel Rod. Para -Perez ............................... .. .............................................................

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FER A DO ZOBEL: The Carroza andlhe Hole in the Call non Emmanuel Torres .......................... .. ......................................................... ......... CONTRIBUTORS .................................. .... ... .......................................................

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JUAN

LUNA ,

FERNANQO

AMORSOLO Ii 0 t

FERNANDO

ZOBEL

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FOREWORD

o PIONEEH i

to blaze a new trail , to lead the way to new art'as of

thought or development. It demands vi ion, courage, and integrity. To be a pioneer is to engage in the daring que t [or new directions that would ultimately enric h li ves. On our 170,h year, we at Ayala ontinu e to commit our e lves to pioneering the future. Thi book i pa rt o[ our commitment to remain apprec ia tive of our c ultural herita e. Art is more t an aesthetics. It i allou tthe very things that make us human: it is the expression of what i intangible. And of its many forms. painting i one o[ the mo t concrete manifes tations of what i impos ible to achi eve - to share with many what a solitary mind has envisioned - the expre ion of a unique view o[ the world. The Ayala Museum has gathered example of the work o[ Ju an Luna, Fernando Amorsolo, and Fe rna ndo Zobel a mani[e tation of th e pioneering spirit. Their works a re more than a rti fac ts o[ hi tory. Th ey a re creati ons of individu al who had vision and who c ha nged th e way Filipinos viewed the m elve and the world . Each painting-to paraphrase the late Nick Joaquin - i a portrai t of th e a rti st as Filipino. Even more, it i a lso a portrait of the Filipino as a c itize n of the world.

Jaime Zobel de Ayala Cha,rman Ayala Corporation

PionÂŤ,", or Philippln( An

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PREFACE

T HE YEAR 2000, the Ayala Mu e um ex hibited for the first time its e ntire co ll ec ti on of work by Fernando Amorsolo (1892-19 72) and Fe rna ndo Zobel (19241984). In the la t four years ince, we have expa nded our co ll ecti on in a consc ious effort to refi ne and fi ll gaps whe re they ex i t, uch a importa nt periods a nd significant turning poin t in their a rti ti c deve lopme nt. While \ e a re fa r from achi ev ing our longte nn goal of as embling the tronge t pu bli c coll ec tion of works by these two artists in the country, it i our pleasure to unve il new acquis iti ons in thi ina ugural ex hibition

Pioneers of Philippine Art: Luna, Amor 010, Zobel - each a rtist a trailbl azer in his own way. in his own time. The museum's Ferna ndo Amorso lo a nd Fern a ndo Zobe l coIl ecti ons are greatly e nhanced by an importan.) co ll ell ti on of painti ng by th e 19th centu ry artist, Ju a n Luna (1857-1899) on long- term loan from th

Ba nk of th e Phili ppin e Is lands . Luna's

impres ive artistic range i e ident in severa l unfi nished studies for a seri es of pa inting call ed People and Kings, and grand ouvres s uc h a

the two pectac ular paintings

(Untitled) donated by Mercede McMic king, one portray ing a n elegantly a ttired lady a t the racetrack, and the other depicting a lady outside the Museo del Prado in Madrid "ith her back towru路d the viewer, d isplay ing to best adva ntage a frin ged shawl dra ped grace full) over her shou lde rs .

We gratefu ll y acknow led ge three rece nt dona ti ons to th e mu seum ' Fe rna ndo Amor

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coll ec tion - name ly, two la ndsca pes (Fire/ree in Intramuros, 1941 and Trees

Around a Pond, 1947)) from Li sa a nd Rola nd Amm a nn - Irminger, a coupl e from Switzerland whose ti es to th e Philip pines go back to the ea rly 19 00s; a nd a pastoral S('ene depicting Victoria Zobe l de Aya la (1948) dona ted by J aime a nd Bea tri z Zobe l de I\)al a. In our endeavor to stre ngth en the Zobel co ll ection, the museum ha e nj oyed the enthusia ti c support of Ja ime Zobel de Aya la, who e donati ons in the la t four year inc lude pai nting from hi private coIl ection uch a Luz Palida If a nd seve ral Saetas from the 19505. In 2000, th e mu e um acquired its fir t Zobel painting from the 19705,

El Lago (197 1) a nd shortl y th e rea fte r, two major works from the same pe riod joined the

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coUection, namely Homenaje a Theodoro Boehm (1976) and Reflejo en un Espejo (1979) . Other notable acqui itions include Ship of Fools (1952), Flight to Gerona (1956), Paisaje

Sordo (1965) and Acodemia VII (1970). We introduce with great delight Aya la' la test acquisition, Quatro Lineas (1972), a begu iling work inscribed with a Span ish translation of verses from a Chinese poem by Wang Wei in Zobel's own ha nd. We are pleased to announce that the seeds for a Zobel tudy cente r have been own, beginning with a we bsi te on the artist developed and ma naged by th e Filipinas Heritage Library, whi ch may be accessed from both the library a nd th e mu eum's Zobel galleries. The collaboration between th e museum a nd the Libra ry exte nd s to the virtual book and interviews with vario s indi vidual who knew Zobel in

pain and in the Philippine,

some of which have been inoorporated in the exhibition. We thank. in palti cular. Maritoni Ortigas and the staff o[ the Filipinas Heritage Li rary for their generous assi tance and cooperation in this continui g collaboration. We are grateful to Paulino Que. the Ateneo Art Gal lery, the SGV Foundation. the Bank of the Philippine Island and the Ayala Corporation for making this exJ,ibition possible. On behalf o[the Ayala Museum, I tha nk Rod. Para -Perez. Santiago A. Pilar. and Emmanuel Torres for the illuminating essays in this book; Kenneth Esguen'a, Roland Cruz and B+C De ign for their mo t useful co llaborati on in refining and making the original design concept from De mond Freeman A oc iates a reali ty: Amold Torrecampo. Yes Pedraja and Ditas Samson for curatorial support; Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez a nd Manuel

L. Quezon III for vital editori al assistance; Karen Dinglasan and Wilma Zapata [or financial guidance; a nd Cri ty Comia, Tedd y a n Juan and Miriam O. Katigbak of Ayala Land for the expert compl e tion of our building and exhibitions galleries. La tly, our thanks to Leandro V. Lac in Pa rtner [or providing the mu eum a stunning home that embodies the trailblazing pirit of the artists whose works we celebrate.

Florina H. Capistrano-Baker. Ph.D. Director Ayala Museum

Pioneers of ~hilippinc An

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BY SANTIAGO ALBANO PILAR

the 19th century remain unsurpassed by any Filipino artis t until the present. The gold meqal he won at the Expos ici6n Nacional de Bellas Artes in Madri d in May 1884 for his pa i ting, El spoliarium catapulted him to fam e . The pi ece, bought for 20,000 pese tas by th e Pro vincial Committee of Barcelona for th e city's museum brought much-n eeded fund to th e truggling artist. Inspired by a novel, Rome in the Time of Augustus: The Adventures of a Gaul by Charles Dezobry, (a bes tseller at the tim e) the Spoliarium, a large work in oil on ca nvas measuring an ambitious foUl" and half mete! by eight meters, depi cts dead gladi a tors being dragged into a cavernous hall in th e baseme nt of th e Roman Colosse um, with mourn e rs wa itin g to cla im th e corp ses. Brillia ntl y executed, th e painting fulfilled all th e conte mporary requiremen ts for a masterpi ece: a scene set in the distant pa t, preferably th e Graeco-Roman peri od, as a

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mean, of displaying the artist' dilige nce in re earch through the a uthe nti c ity of th e ('o,t um .." paraphernalia, and architec ture in hi s pi ece; the rna te rful depic tion of the human ana tomy thro ugh the pertinent portrayal of feelings a nd poses; a nd th e expre"ion of pOllerful emotions calcu lated to move th e viewer toward conte mplation of the moral insights offe red by the ubjec t. Arter thi s achieve me nt , Luna went on to \\ In more alla rds in art competitions in pan is h c itie" as well a in Pari s and Munich, and, posthumously, in t. Loui , Mi ssouri , U.. A. Th~

allard ga rnered in the Madrid expos ition of 1884 aI

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led to con Lroversy. Three

gold met/a Is lIere gi\"e n in the contest, with Luna obtaini ng the First Cold Medal . II.路 \\aS not. hOlle\" e r, allarded the Gra nd Prize tha t many influ ential people and the general public believed he deserved. It wa claimed tha t the a rtis t wa deni ed the grand prize " e('a u e he \\a an indio, a a live of Malayan. a nd not Spanis h, blood. In l88S. King \lfonso XII of pai n rece ive~ Lun a in a n audience and expressed his "mpatille, to the a rti st over his fai lure to ,rin the Grand Prize. Ac ting upon thi p'pr6sion of royal sentiment, a nd the gene r I opin ion of th e public, the Spani s h .~enatp

decided to commi ss ion Luna to paint anothe r large canva . La batalla de

[",pnntu (The Battl e of Le panto). The s ubject dwe lled on one of the greates t battl es of all ::'panish hi.tory: the naval batLle between the ga ll eys of the Holy League ('ommanded b) Admiral Andrea Doria a nd pa in' Don Ju a n de Austri a. aga in t the Olloman navy that end ed Turki h domination of the Mediterranean . The pi ece wa tl) be hung be,ide La rendiei6n de Granada (The urrend erofGranada) by Franc isco Prad ill a IIho wa a pre vious Grand Prize winne r. The ge ture, Ih erefore, came to be interpreled as com pen at ion to Luna for the a ll eged injus ti ce he had uffered atlhe hands oflhe Royal Academy. Alfonso XII , however, died before La. batallade Lepalllo was linishpd . On 29

ovember 1887. La batal/a was unve iled by the king's widow,

Ihe Quepn Regent, Marfa Cri tina. Today. the painting s till hangs at the Pa lacio del enado in Madrid. hOltly aIter his triumph with the poliarium , Luna left Mad rid to Lry hi s luc k in Paris.>\gain. he s ucce sfull y establi hed hi s ta ndin g a a n a rtist of note there, cu lminating in hi accepta nce a an asoei!! (member) of the Soc ie te Nationale des Beaux Arts in J 891. Hi s s tanding as a n academician of sorts allowed him to exhibit up to 10 paintings a tlh e a nnual art competili on held al the Champs-de-Mars without Ih ese having to pass through the board of j urors.

rlonCCri or Philippine An

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Even the world-famous Pa blo Picasso adm ired Luna - at least from his works. While a s tudent frequenting the Mu eo Nacional de Barcelona doing studi es for his school plates, the formidable vanguard of modem a rt naturally aw the huge Spoliarium hanging prominently in the museu m. In 1946, when Macario Vitali. a Filipino Pos t-Impress ioni t painter who settl ed in the French province Brilla ny, met Pi casso at the th eater-re ta uran t of Cami ll e Re na ult in Puteau x, th e Cubi s t master complimented him for be inga "compatriot of Juan Luna, the great Filipino painter!'" Luna's victories happened during the so-ca ll ed Propaganda Movement. the period of struggle for reforms in the courts of pani h opinion aimed at achieving the welfare of the Philil?pines. Thus, as if preordained by destiny. his renown in the European art scene led him to playa key role in furth e ring Philippine cause th rough his powerful connection . Hi triumph - even his disappointment - were news- worthy enough to crve as impetu for nationa l solidarity: he became in particular an intimate fri

d of the emergi ng na lional hero of the Phil ippines. the cholarl y writer and

polymath. Jose Rizal. Riea l's execution for trumped-up charge of rebellion in 1896 would park tlie revolution that te rminated pa ni h rule. After the proclamation of the Philippine republic. Luna \ as appointed by President Emilio Aguinaldo as a diplomati c agent to help obtain the recogn iti on of Philippine sovereignty by other nations. On acco unt of his involve ment in Philippine cause. Luna has therefore also been honored as a patriot and hero - with good reason. Typecast a a nationalj t, Luna i thus frequently wrillen about as champion of the indios, an oppre ed colonial ubject whose achievements lay in his having \路anqui hed the pani h colonizer on the battleground of artistic excellence. He did. indeed. prol e that the Filipino could be as diligent, cultured. and cosmopolitan as any European artis t. But the full implications of hi virtuo ity as a painte r a nd. con equen tl)'. the impact of hi style on actual technical and tylistic development in Philippine arl. while enormou . has yet to be properly, and full y ex pla ined and anal yzed . Juan Luna was born in Badoc, 1I0cos Norte on 23 October 1857 of middle class parent. Through the paternal line. he inhe rited a prinkling of Aeta blood a nd from his mother, some pan ish blood. His fath er, Joaqufn Luna de an Pedro. an n ocano from Alus iis, Zamba le , was employed in the colonial admini tration a a revenue in pector. upervis ing the dis tribution and sa le of monopoly commodi ties such as

Pion芦n orJ1.hilippinl: An

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tobacco. liquor. a nd offic ial form in th e 1I 0co prov ince. His mothe r, Laureana Novicio)' Anc heta of Namacpaca n (now Luna) , La

nion, came from the babaknallg

or wealthy clas , rul ers in the region s ince pre -colon ia l times who pe rpe tu ated the ir authority asgobernadorcillos (local colonia l officials) during Spani h rule. The Luna family was dee ply inclined artis ti call y. There are a necdotes of the family performing "oll('ert, in their home. Laureana a nd the Luna c hildre n had good voices, were good piani,[" and guitarist., and were fond of singing pani hong and the kUlldiman (Filipino love ong of the period). Elder brothe r Andre . the ubjec t of one of Juan' fe" ,un il ing ea rl) paintings. El uioLinista, s tudie d th e vio lin under Professor Calahorra in Manila. then went to Madrid to refine hi playing under the virtuoso Je,us

~Ionasterio.

On the other hand, Juan's yo unge.t brother, Antonio, later a prolific

('"ntributor to La soLida ridad. th e Filip ino reform i t n w pape r publi hed in Bare~lona, began" riting poems and es ay whil e s till a high school s tudent. These

fael> ar~ important because Jua n Lun a ' fi e ry roman ti c te mpe rament may be allributl"d to hi" family's musi cal inclination. In 18.50. or Just seven years before Ju an wa born. the Manila a ity government opellf·d a schoo l of painting, the Acade mia de Dihujo y Pintura (Academy of Drawing antI Painting). Mani la had been without an art .chool for so many years. Previou Iy tlwr~

lI'a, tlw E cuela de Dibujo (School of Drawing) , establis hed on 8 October

182.3 by a ci,ic orga nization . the Royal Econom ic Society of Friends of th e Country. hut it had closed in 1834. 2 The origin a nd manageme nt of the two sc hoo ls differed (·onsitl,·rahly. The E('onom ic Soc iety ta rted the Escuela de Dibujo by taking ove r th~ privatI' "c hool conducted by Damia n Domingo whom it a lso appointed a director.

Tit,· school dl"pended upon donations or whateve r profit s it could ga in from its many pmj'·cts. Damian Domingo taught a hom egrown s tyle, milliaturismo. At the he ight of it. popu larit ). the de lica te techniqu e of miniaturi s mo emine ntly sa ti sfi ed the apsthHi(' rt'quirl"ments of the emerging edu ca ted middl e-class or iLustrado - made up "f Indios and mestizos - who want ed to have the ir newly acquired status captured for p,,,t(·rity down to thl" . ma ll est detai l. In contra t, the - Acade mia de Dibujo y Pintura was unde r th e direct s upervi ion of the co lon ia l govern ment. The fund s for ib operation were provided by th e Junta de Comerc io (Board of Trade) to whi ch was also de legated th e ac tua l ma nageme nt of t he c hoo l. In J857, afte r trying the sen ,ice of loca l talent as teat her . the Junta dec ided to hire a profes or born and bred in Spain so that the chool's new c urri culum , patterned a fter tha t taught in Madrid, could Iw impl eme nted. In 1858, Agus tin aez, a product of the Academia de Bell as

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Artes de Madrid (also called the Academia de San Fernando) arri ved in Ma nila. The new curri culu m was geared towa rd teaching the Classico-Roma ntic style - at the time perhaps totall y unheard of in the Philippines. By the 1880s, as Luna's s tar was blazing in Europe, th e minia turi s tic

tyle had already fall en from favor.

Understandably, the ilu trados had embraced the new s tyle being taught in the Academia, a l

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the style of the ir celebrated cou ntryma n, as the sensibi lity that best

expre ed their gains and achieve ments - connoting correctness and modernity along the tandards held dea r by the Western establi hmen t. At this time, however, the art scene in Europe had changed considerably. As earl y as the 1850s, a ne\\ social clas had ri en, composed of merchant families unprecedented ly enriched from trading with products from the colonies and the mass production of commoditie as the res ult of indus trialization. Art patronage widened as thi s new class, the bourgeoisie, came to enjoy economi c power, lead ing to the eme rgence of new styles and subjects. The Classico-Romantic s tyle, by then simpl y cal led academi m. had be orne identified wi th ev ryt hing that was reactionary vis-a-vis the avant-garde Imp ess ionis t movement. Impressioni m, with its radically new tec hniques and subjects derived from contemporary life, came to be recognized as the tyle that truly refl ected the new socio-economic order of Europe. To fully understand Luna's art. the terms "Classico-Romantici m" and "academy" warrant clarification; but first, a discussion of "academy." "Academy"' (French: acadtmie; Italian: accademia; Spanish: academia) comes [rom the Greek term. "akademeia" or the place where Plato taught philosophy. During the Renai ance, with relation to art. academy referred to the ateliers of the masters where aspiring arti Is went to apprentice themselves. Giorgio Vasali, for example, in tituted an Academy of Design in Florence in 1561 while the Carracci brothers founded their own accademia in Bologna in 1585. On the other hand , academy, in the context of Luna' art. began in 1648 when King Louis XfV of France. the Sun King. systematized education in the arts. as part of hi overall policy of increasingly centralized state administration. Along this line, the monarch organized pre-existing schools into academies and set up pertinent bureaucracies with the leading practitioners of the various arts as directors. Established were the Academy of Language and Literature, the Academy of Architecture. another of Music, and that of Painting and Sculpture. Henceforth, the academies became branches of the govenunent and the arts were placed under royal patronage. administered by the civil service.' Louis XIV's system was admired and became the standard among European nationstheir colonies included. Pionecn of P~ilippin( An

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The acade mi e a imed at implementing a ta ndard of arti s ti c excelle nce based on etiquette a nd the cu lti vati on of good ta te oOn this acco unt , with regard to the vis ual

81t,. the official s of the French Roya l Academy of Pa inting and culpture e tabli hed a hierarch), of ubjects valued according to the ir importance as source of moral III

piration. Ranked a, the noblest were the hi tori cal scenes, then portra its, followed

by land,cape . Cenre scenes and s till lifes were a t the bottom rung, regarded as lowly .ubjects incapable of in piring noble idea. With rega rd to s tyle, profe SOl falored the re trai ned c lass ic is m of

icola

Pous in over th e sens ualit y a nd

emotionalism of Peter Paul Ruben. To dete rmine the capabiliti es of a piring arti ts - and for the public's upliftment - the same a uthoriLie al

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organized the sa lon or

Juriecl art exhibi tion-conte ts he ld twi ce a year, one in spring (us uall )' opening in the month of May) a nd one in a utumn. At the time of th e Bourbon kings, the f>\hibitIOns \\ ere in.ta ll ed in th e Sa lon

arn~ of the Louvre whi ch gave its name LO

th~,e ,,\ent.. A major medal in the sa lon I eca me the a piring arti t's tic ke t to fa me,

the hining proof of ma tery of hi s c raft. a chance Lo be hired for choice commi ssions. By 1886. \\h~n Luna made hi s de buL in th e French a1on. the French academi c a rt "'ene had undergone various major c hanges . The royal acade my of Louis XIV had ",,('ome known as th e Ecole de Beaux Art s; and th e poli c ies of th e sc hool a lso undenvenL revisions accord ing Lo the goa ls of various regimes that overL,Ook the (路ountry. By 188 1. for exa mpl e, the Third Hepublic had already ceded the direcLion of LIIP Paris salon Lo the ocieLe NaLi ona le de Arti Le Fran~ai s ( ational ocietyof F""nch Arti.Ls). t'omposed enLirely of a rLisL, - s Launch acade mis ts, of course -leaving Ollt the bureaucra ts. The salon, now a n a nnual, ins tead of a biennial affair, was now Iwld aL the Cha mps -El ysee ins tead of a L th e Salon Caree . In terms of tyl e, Lh e struggle for .upremacy be tween th e adhe re nL of POll s in a nd Rubens co ntinued with thp mru,Lers of the earl y 1800s. with Jacq ues Loui s Dav id a the champion of Classicism and Eugene De lacroix as the leader of the romanLi c rebe ls. By the 1850 , how('v,.r. a new s Lylp fu s ing th e two sens ibiliti es ca me int o fas hion: the ClassicoRomantic s tyle ill whi c h Luna's mas terpi eces, like Lhe Spoliarium, would be painLed. Tlw professors of the A('ade my of thi period had conceded to th e highly emotional th~me" and th e

impasto (thic kly tex Lured) tec hniqu es of Delacroix but remained

taunchly adamant in the ir ins is Lence on th e hi erarchy of s ubj ec t maLler. UnLil hi s death in 1899, Luna would pai nt in the Cla.s ico-Romantic Lyle of the academy. Wha t precise ly is the Class ico-Roma nti c s tyle? Classical art or Class ic is m refer to the sensibil ity of Crceo-Roman art lhaL idealized aC Lual rea liLy. The classical aesLhetic

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idea l was based on Ihe three c herished phil o.ophi es of fifth cen lur)' B,C, Cree('e: huma nis m, idea lis m, and ralionalis m, In Ih e arl;" Ihis found !'xp ression in Ihe idealizalion of Ihe huma n form. The slyle derna nded Ihal onl y Ih .. pernrarwnl, 11r .. essent ia l. a nd Ihe complete s hould be depicled in Ih e porll'8yal of man, II hil,' eschewing Ihe Lrans itory, the uniqu!', the parlic'ular, or personal. \ , an c路'pr""ion of th ese philosophi es, a work of arl - be il a painling or scu lplu re, a burldin/(. a lage play, or a symphon) - "a organized based on Ihe principles of 5) mmelf) and balance, a. ,,('II as Ihe ca nons of propoltion in IIhieh a ll parts are dircctl) proportIonal 10

th .. II hole. In classica l painling, the ar1islll a' e'pc"lc路d

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p('lf('c'llh .. repre"' nlallon

of Ihe human [orm, lr<lIlsforrning il inlo a model of id('al b,' aul). Lnd,'cslandahl), Ira inin g In Ihe academy wa

Ihu s grou nd ed on fi!';urc dralling. Through lonal

g radalions al' hi eved \Iilh a ti ck of c' ha reoa l or a penc'il. Ilw apprenli"e I.."rrwd

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a hi eve th., illus ion of l'ol ul1le wil h whi c h Ihe rOllnd,路d form oflhe human figure lias rppresenled. To ga in recognilion in Ihe a rl 10 ~Ja.l e r

Ih e h~ma n fo rm. A a

s('~n~

('011>'(''1''(-'11(''',

moc "I for ~u c('eed in g Filipino a rli b

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of hi s times, Luna, therefore, h",1

his pHinling' becHme Ihe prinCIpal

e mul ale,

Homanti ci m, on the other haml. imposed the dement- of pm"ion and drama upon Lhe chosen subject. These sentiments "ere beller depicted using impasto or bold brusll\l ork (in pani sh. brochadas) a~ oPpo'f'd to fi,lP line, and fine brushwork, as we ll a chiaroscuro (conlras ting tonal lalut's) thallw lpeu Iwighlen Ihe ,Irong emoirons in Ih e scene. Th e, poliarium e mbodies Luna', masle ry of lhe principles of Cla"i('oHomanli c' a rl : Ihe cOITee l depiC'lion of pe rfec tl y proporlional figure. in Iheir relelanl po es, wilh a ll Ihese fi gure being acc uraldy depicled in relalion

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the soure'p of

lighl in Ihe composi lion, and with tiwir e'pres.iolh and /(,>,llII'e e'pressing cmoliol" appropriale to Ihe scene. As a pioneer in Philippine a rli ;lic "'pres.ion, Luna,lhrough his man)' pai nl ing> - be Ihe) exhibition pil'('e, or inlimale sludie, - laid Ihe ('orner"lone upon" hi c h Ihe Clas,il'o-Homanti(' lradili on in PhilippilH' arillouid be built. Hi " tec hniques a nd represen la li ona l del ices sened a" key sources of ,t)le among Ihe laler gene ration of a rlisls ra ngi ng from Fabi,\ n de la Hosa ;\morso lo and furl he r on in lurn

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10

Fernando

Al11orsolo';, " Iude nls, Luna's perfeclion of Ihe

drafl s mans hip d e mand ed by ca non s of "Ia禄ical al'l in spired th e .en,~ 01 monume nlalil y and grande ur in Fahi ~ n de In Rosa's Planling Rice a na Dealh of

Ge"eral L"wlo", piece Ihat garn ered a gold and bronze mcda l rc.pe('lil'ely for Ilris a rli I a l Ihe Uni versa l Exposilion ofSt. Loui s. Mis-ouri in 190 .. On Ih e olher hand, Ih e poliarium 10 Ihi s day re mains Ihe 010,,1 II idely copied Filipino painling. T lw I'lonccno(PhilirrincAri

17


oldest sun'iving copies were done by actua l tud ents of Luna, ucceeding mas ters of tht' academic s tyle. uch a Roma n Fau tino, Ram6n Pe ralta, Toribio He rrera, Pedro Cuevas, and Pedro Coniconde. The Spoliarium wa even re ndered many time over in three-dimension as a culpture in reliefby the maste r woodcarver, Graciano '1t'pomuct'no. A \irtual unknown in his cou ntry when he left, Juan Luna a il ed for Europe in 1878 in orJer to refint' hi s painting in Madrid .

fter e nrolling in the Acade mia de Be lla

\rtt's de Madrid and completing seve ra l s ubj ects there, Luna apprenticed himse lJ to ont' of his proft'ssors, Alejo Vera. When Vera went to Rome to fulfill commi s ion , LUlla begged tht' lalter to take him a long wilh him. The act of formal matri culation in tht' academy and then affi lia ting oneself a a n ap prentice in th e tudio of a n'('ognized arti;t wa ; ta ndard practict' In the academic cene a t the time. Professor Vf'fa took in Luna. treating him kindly bolh a

tude nt and a ward . But when Ve ra

""nt back to Madrid. Luna remained in Rome. There, the young man not only painted h" .. arlie t "inning pieces. but a lso developed a close fri e ndship with the Be nlliure hrotht'cs: the cu lptor Mariano and the pai nter Juan Antonio. It was in Rome that Luna painted his Spoliarium. But before that, in 1881 , he exec uted La muerte de Ueopatm (Tht' Death of Cleopatra) and La bellafeli.?) la esc/a va ciega ( rhe Fortunate \\oman and the Blind lave) a nd e ntered them in the Madrid expo ition of tha t yea r. Lamuerle de Cleopatra garnered him a ' ilver medal, hi very fir; t award in Europe. Tlw panish govf'rn ment bought La mllerle de C/eopalra for 20.000 rea le . It is till III tit" ('oll .. ct ion of th t' Prado Museum, c urre ntl y on loa n to th e Capitanfa General ",. SI'\illa.

nit"

路\vala \1u"'utn has a rich collec tion of Luna paintings a nd this essay i foc u ed

parti!'ularlyon pit'ces that demons tra te the attist's s triking mastery of the human form and his ('on stan I fascina ti on with thi s molif. The exa mpl es c hosen he re a re not just gpms that glitter wi th the artis t's virtuos it y: th ey also bea r witness to importa nt dp\

"lopments nol jus t in his art but a lso in hi pe r onal life. as well a in hi s

milIeu. This e;say nalurally begins with La marquesa de Monl e- Olillar (The Marqui se of Monte-O li,ar). fillingly bceau t' it i 路 the ea rli est work in the coll ec tion and also. ('oincidenta ll y, the ea rl iest Lun a propt' rt y of th e museum.

igned and dated, " Lvna

/ Madrid / 188 1", La mllrqueslI demons trates the a rti st' ca refu l manner of de ign and t'xee ution in thi s ea rl y period. In May of th a i yt'a r, Luna had won hi s aforementioned first medal in the European scene for La mllerte de Cleopatra. La PionC'C'n or Philippine: An

18


marquesa de MOllte Olivar i painted exa('tly in the man ne r of the figures in his ]881 contest pi eces. The marquesa's face i. achieved through thinl y appliecl layers of paint a nd her fi gure i carefu lly s tudi ed. La bella fel~ .1 la esc/ava ciega. La

muerte de Cleopatra. a nd La marquesa are c lpa rl) Ihe works of a me[icu lou> young a rtist of great promi e. The mar hione." ' traight form e('hoes the 'erti('alit) of th,· blind gi rl in La bellafe/~. The face of tlw t" o '\ol11en are .. 1'0 ,imilarl) ren"pred in th ree-quarters profil e. La marquesa " as e, identl) intended a a fonnal portrait. and Luna approached his subject forthrightly but with Ihe utmo"t tact and r.. ,erw. TIll' colors are confin('d 10 a fe ,, : deep blue in \'al}ing ,hade, for Ihe lad)'. d",,,. "hill' for her hawl. 8nd pink and red lone. for her (·olllplexion. To compen,ale for lilt' somberl y formal a ura, Luna e ndowed La marqlle.<a wi lh mo,pmenl hy I't>nderinl( 1111' lad)' sha,,1 wilh s pa tters Ihal expedie ntly evoked Ih .. texlure of its emhroidl·f1·d debign. He used broeha"a.. as the pan is h would ,·" lIlh(,l11- ,'igorous stroke. usuall) nade with a s tubby brush - to caplure Ihe .."""nllal forlll of Ihe dpsired d"lail. In PI ilippin" cri li('ism. thi , tec hnica l effe('1 i, loosel) des('riheJ as "impressioni,li,." u(,h 8 lenn. ho\\ever. i ab mis leadinga. th" I('chniqu .. il,,·If. Lunas brochada, an' often <;iled as e,idence of hi exc ur,ion, in lo Ihe Impr6sioni,1 ,t) I" - bUlllw) an' nol. The I"chnique was derived from Velasquez. Rembrandl. Rubens' and utlll'r mas le rs of Ihe Baroque period, "hom ",ery academic painter aelmired. Tlw Detail LA MARQUESA DE MONTE OLiVAR

quintesse nce of Impre""ionislll is color di, isiorri,m Ihal can on I) be ob.erH'd In a

1881 011 on canvas 104.2 x 68.6 em

fe" or Luna' "ork - mainly ' Iudi es . Luna was inlrigued b) Ihe paintings of till'

Gift of paz Zamora de Mascunana

a leller 10 Rizal as a " mosaic of pure colors of Ihe r"inbo"."1 In the,e fe" word,. he

Il11pres:;ionisl and was qui c k 10 grasp Ihe es enc'P of Iheir sly Ie. He describ"d it in uccinctly a nal yzed thai Ihe lrnpressionisl' aba ndoned Ihe lradilionallechnique or mixing colors on Ihe pa le lle and appl) ing Ihelll in layer. on Ihe can,as. Insl .. ad. they , queezed Ihe m directly from Ill(> painl luhe. applied Ihem ,ide by side on the cam'a. and Ihen lellhe eles ofl he ' ie" .. r hlend them 10 form Ihe desired image amI color. To dale. no researc h has heen done abo ul Ihe exaci idenlil) of Ihe marquesa.

It is poss ible tha i Luna painled La flulrqlleMI afler "inning his sih er medal for l.-ll muerte de Cleo/1Otm. This ea rl y Iriumph had ,urely qualified hilllio underlake" hal was probably his lir I pOltrail commiss ion from Ihe panish nobilil). The crown j ewels of Ihe Luna coll eclion of Ihe .. ya la MII,eum are. no doubt. a pair of mas lerfull y cra fted large painlings. dOlw between Ih .. lale ] 880, a nd early 1890,. e hri , le ned by Ihis writer in 1992 a. Chic l.-lld,! at the Ra<"etw<"k and Promenader with a M(lIIt6n de Alanila . Ihe Iwo pi ,·('e. may indeed be ('ompared 10 crown je"els Pionn:" of Phillppme An

19


a, they were pas I'd on by lineage, a. it were. by the ir original owners , the Zobe l famil),. to the Ayala Museum ' While th e s tunning c raftsman -hip of the two pi ece i, enough to date th eir executi on to the peak of the a rtis t's career, another le ller of Juan Luna to Rizal abo evidences intimate dea ling between the artist and the l6lwl, at the time." The Z6bel had always c ham pioned Philippine causes tarting \I ith the Filipino found"r of their line, Don Domingo Roxas, who di ed in prison in

1!113 for allegl'Cl involvement in the upris ing led by

polina rio de la Cruz in Taya bas. 7

On th., other hanti. Don Mariano Roxas, Domingo' son, was the prime mover in the e,tahli,hment ofth .. se<'ond art sc hool of Manila. the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura 8 \, .. arly a, 1852. Mariano e\en \\fote Queen I abella II proposing the founding of an art mu,eum in Manila." The Z61lel; patronage of Luna in the 1890s intimate till' dan', prid" in their compatriot's ach'evements a nd . under tandab ly, their concern for this important compa triots wei far", living as he did in a fore ign la nd, away from tlw ('urnforls of hom(·. Ba,ed on the recor I'd business dea lings be tween Trinidad Znh .. 1 and th" Luna family in 1891. it coull have been Dona Trinidl/d indeed, who mIght ha\" bought the t\lO paintings from the arti t himself.

1'Ilf' Cille u,d) al ,'hang~s in

11.1'

Racetrack and Promenader wilh A Man l6n mirror exc itin g

tllf' European cene during tha t effe rve c"nt period at the turn of the

I <Jlh ('entury. the so-ca ll"d bell e epoque. Paris, with its new grid of boul evards. fr'· ... hl) laid-out parks and mushrooming bout iqu e. bookstore . restaura nts. a nd har.... all fashionably illuminated by gas li ght, re igned s upreme as Ihe fountainh ead

uf Ih,· latest id"as in city planning. in fa hi on. a nd the arts. All of Europe followed in Iwr ... Iep' and artists were raring to depic i th ese ri veting deve lopme nts in the ir painling,. The ar·adem), hO\lever. firmly upheld its esta bli s hed hiera rc hy of themes anrl \I(Juld nol be Ihwarted. Thu . a compromi e between academic dic tum a nd

"vol. ing la,tp ensu(·d. In Ihp case of th e Chic Lady and the Promenader, the conni el \las sol\NI in tllP approach

10

th eir subject. The two pa intings a re definitely not

portraits - a pori rail being focus"d on th e identity, ta tus, a nd pe rsona lil y of Ihe ... ubjt·,,!. The Cllte IAuf) and Ihe Promenader. in conlra l. are focused on the tyle of Ih .. \lomen's dres;(·s. The .ellings. a lso Irea ted prominently. are nol in piring exoti c ,,'pnes; ralher Ihey are drawn from famili a r landmarks. in the ir ca e, Ihe c ity of Madrid. By a ll accoun ls, bOlh a re Iherefore genre or dail y life scenes that th e aC'ademician - had conclenlllPd as be longi ng 10 the bollom of the hi erarchy of preferred ... ubjPcI •. As a C'onC'cssion to academic slri('ture ,arti s t like Jua n Luna e ndowed Iheir (· ity genres wilh subtl e refl ec li on on Ihe genera l order of life - the di vin e PionUllofPhilipl'JIlc:ArI

20

Detail

LADY ATTHE RACETRACK ca 188Ds Oil on canvas 112.5x77cm Gift of Mercedes Zobel McMlcking


cherne of Ihings - Ihus (·onforming 10 tlw aeud(, l1Ii (' s tipul alion Ihat arl s hould contribute to Ihe edifi('alion of ils viewers. Genre ,,·pne. suc h as Ihe CIII(, Lad, and the Promellader were orte n paint ed in pair, to pl'Operly tUl·k le Ihemps dw .. lling on life'. pa r!ldoxeo: mun and na lure. progreos a nd tradition. Ih" ('i ly and th .. ,illag('with the good inva riabl y Iriumphing o'er Ilw bad. ,irlue and moral it) ('onquerin!: evil. All thing. con.idered. this was good for till' painll·r. "ho "as abl .. lo "'11 two works a t once, as "ell a' for the dient, "ho "o'1\(,lIi""lly so""d hi or her pmhl,'"' of fillin g Ihe "ails of his or he r hou e" ith " "harming pair of "ol1lplpmental') Ih,·m .. ,. The Chic /11d, and Promellader are doubl) stullnrng on accollnt of the elef!;anc'" IIf Luna's models a nd the mal'\('lou design and ('XC'cut ,on oftl", piP('P'. '1'1 .... 1' lII'p",·t is partl y I"'ought a bout by the immediate plu('ement of Ihe subjt'('ls in th" f"'·'·gl'l111nd. their fi gure. cropped fl'Om Ihighs down so Iha l Ilwir lu,('ious "hann. and 1111' !I<'h d ela il s of Ihe il' dress would be favorably "roj,·(· led. In ('onfonnit) to a(,!ldel1ll<' req uire me nt, their lheme, re, 0" e arou nd Ilw ('olllplC'm"ntal')' ideas of prof!;n'" anlltrudition, modemil) a . d con I'rvatism. ('o.",o polilaoi"" and heri lage. ad\C'nluna nd pJ1Jde n('e. The Chi~ Lad) captures a s{' .. ne in a I'a{'..tra{'k "itlt an ... Iegant lUI" in lite [orl'b'fOund po 'ed ('onfiden Ll) in order 10 displa) her all i I'e -t lw fa,hion ofth .. season: a custom-made lace and satin dress topped b) a springjal'ket

\I

ith a mal('I"og

hat. wide-brimmed a tlhe front and de(·orat,·d "ith Irimmings. She r"pre,enls till' C'ity sophi s lica le . The racelrack fUlther sugges" her lil,..ral outlook on life. Luna inventively advertised L1le (·harms of his ,ubje{'t h) po,ing Iwr ,"lh Iwr fold,-d umbre lla thrus ting her to roo forward. ils hand le

rt>,tin~

onlhe ('rook of her ri ght ann

whil e her le rt hand holds the tip. Through Ihi s po"e. IIPI' jac·kel e'pedienlly , ho" , off a li m waisllhal eviden tl y allra(' ted Ihe art is t. Elll pha,i,i h g her s taluesqut> s hape are Ihe verlical bars of Ihe ra il fen('e bt> hind her \I hos(' heighl n·,,('h .. d up to a lmost her s hould er. Nol ('on tt> nl "ilh just painting hi, protagonist. Luna filled her s urrounding with a lot of details that caplurl' ho\\ ada) al Ihe ra('es looked al Ihe time. Be hind the lady, to her right, could be seen foul' more \\omen It>aning against the rail. They are focused on the scene al Ihe right side of Ihe painting. the IWlling area where a erowd is huddled. There are e hildren stradd led on the shou ld .. ", of their fal hers. A clo.e look atlhis section

1'1"

ea ls fi, e pole,. From Ihe talle, 1of th<,se

i sus pe nded a blue and white ba nne r. Onlh .. olher Itanc\. hanging from the leftmost pole is the bell that .ounded the ca ll for belling. The whole field was planled 10 cypresse . Mrs . Me rcedes Zobl'l Mc Mic king, tlte al'lua l donor of Ihe 111'0 paintings, ha ide nlifi ed Ihe selling as Ihe Hi p6dromo de la Zarzuela de Madrid .

21


:\0 a comple ment to the Chic Lad)' theme of modern life, the Promenader with a 1lant6n dwelled on conven tion. treasured values, a nd traditi onal objects. To match th" Chic Lad) 's composition, Luna al

0

cropped th e prim lady' fi gure. The pair is

e,identl) a ubll e s tudy of lhe two women's c ha rac ters a nd ma nne rs. a result of their different upbringing lhat the arti st inge niou Iy s ignified s ta rting with the contra~ting ways in which he po ed them. The modi h lady boldl y thrus t he r form

fomard '\ hi Ie the prim one lurned her back to the viewer. Wilh th e compo it ions com enienLly zoomed in on hi s mode ls' dresses. Luna could immediately lackl e their bearing on hi. themes. The s hawled lady proudly di plays c heri hed item of Spanish lraditional coslume: the manton. the normal ly somber colored dress, and lhe fan . Iler very presence in the park makes re ference lo a spec ia l pan is h c uslom, lhe paseo. lhe leisure ly post-sie ta promenade or slroU with the aim of parading un,,'s eleganef'. Among the pan is h. dr sing up is a me li culous a rt in ilself lhu , Luna also caplured another meli('ulous ag -o ld ritual. The cUing underscores lhe themes of history. lradilion, and he ritage. Th two culpturallandmarks before her, still standing in Madrid today. ituate he r in

park close lo th e Mu eo del Prado.

lh .. foremost reposilory of Spanish a rtis tic he ritage. To he r left i the Fuente de Neptuno: the white s hapes below the figure of

eptune are hor es, pulling the sea

god __ "hariol. these rendered in Luna's brochadas. On her righl is a pedeslal wilh only the lower part of the sc ulplural group vis ible. A mature works, th e Chic Lady

fit the Racetrack and the Promenader with a Mant6n were painted in color che mes already !'mployed in th e pi E'ce in whic h th e arti t fir t tri ed their appropri a te ness. TI,.. "hite. baby blue a nd lil ac lone re nde ring th e c hi c lady's dress as well as lhe ,culptural figures in the Promenader with a Mallt6n we re ea rli e r a ppli ed in lhe aforementioned La bella feLiz )' La esclalllL ciega (1881) a nd a nothe r multi-fi gured lIlural. H) men! 0 Hymenee! (1886). Luna a lso used hi s typical hue of bluis h green, ohtained by layering the two co lors, lo ac hi eve volume on the form of the lWO ladi es. rIwre is a lso Luna's pure vi rid ia n us ually een in his painlings of foli age, and raw and burnt si('n na thai he lypically used for lree trunks a nd the roof of buildings. As soon as he sellied in Pari s, Luna began preparing for the many commissions he had received as a result of his artisti c lriumphs. Thi s involved the cuslomary procedure of s('ouling for. and lhen mak ing sludies (exploralory re presenlalion ) of, the likely componenls of lhe s ubjec t, from the ma in and secondary characters, to lhe backdrops, co.tumes, a nd obje"l . lhat would contribule to the accuracy or the scene in relation lo the pe ri od 10 be recrea ted. Aside from the La bat alia, de Lepanto for lhe Spanish PionCCfI orrhilippinc All

22


enale, he had 10 make three painling. ror the Ayuntamien to de Manila. The,e pic'c'e, rell upon him by obligation in relurn ror the pension gilen him by the Manila c·it) governme nt. whic·h began sending thi" in 1882 . Ilis lIinning or the Sill'er Medal rm

Ul TIluerte de Cleopatra in 1881 brought him to Ih" attention orhi. countrymen. Thus. a t the in -ta nee or Te"iellte Ilea Ide (Deput)' Mayor) Franci,,'o de Paula de Rodoreda. an ",1i.t him elr. the Ma nila c it y gOlernment granterlilim a pe,,,,on of si\ hund,..-d peo, a yea r .o tha t hf' could continue his reseurch "' Rome. Tlw amounl lI a, lah'r inC' rea,ed to one Ihousa nd peo •. Tlw tlm-e paintings h" planned to palllt

liP""

FI

pacto de sa"gre. Relrato de \JiglLel L6pe:de l.I!g":;PI. and Lu muert(· de Slnlll" de \1/(/". Ihe las t of IIhic h he

II US

not able to lini,h. EI porto ti.\{I"gre (The Blood Compal·t.

nOli in Ihe Malaca'iang Palac'e collection orth"

alional luseum orthe phdiI'IIInl " )

depicts the paC'1 or friend hip sea led in 1565 bet II "en th" Spalllsh conqui, tador" 11(11 ..1 L6 pez de Legazpi and the c hi ena in or Boho!. HaJah Sikatuna. The ritual con,,,tl·d uf the drinkingofll ine mi\ed with Ihe 111 0 men's bluod. Detail WOMAN WITH MANTON

ca. 1880s 011 on canvas 112.5x77cm Gift of Mercedes Zobel McMlcklng

\Vhll .. a t work on th ..... paintings. Luna's studio at 65 Boulelard \rago ('e","np till' hal e n or felloll e\patri a tes espe('ia IL) Jo,!' Hizal and tl,.. Pardo de Tal era ,,('Iill~' : the lall yerTri nidad. th .. sculptor Feli,. and the afrable Paz or Chic·hing II hom I .una would man)'. Ri za l posed

8-

ikatuna and Trinidad Pardo de T",era as Lega'llI fill'

EI pacta de .mngre. At the end of January L886. LUlla II a, alread) putting the Ii""hlllg touc hes on EI pacto. The folloll<ing month ('arne nt'I" of the PrOl incial COl11l11ill" ... of Ba rce lona's purchase of EI spoliarillin ror 20.000 pe,,' ta,. Barcelona al.o galt' permi •• ion 10 Luna to ex hibit the piece a t the P""i, sa lon that lIould open in ~ I al' th a t year. For it" superb craftsman"hip. EI spolinrilLlfI garnered a Gold M.. Jal of tilt' third cias plus it captured the limel ight for ·'th,· painter rrom the Spanish ('olonies." A cri tic who compared the Spoliarium's ,uperior qual it) to that of a Hembrandl painting. a("o s ta ted thai "el erything (\\as) perrect" in it. \noth .. r described Luna a, a lIort(,) son of the Spanis h baroque master. Jose d .. Ilibera while ,till another e,"'ainwd that. "apa,1 rrom Pradilla. onl) a rell Spani h ur1i. ts cou ld mea,ure up 10 Luna."'" \ ,id ... frol11 hi, triumph a t the Paris salon. Luna II a:; a l,o allard .. d a Diploma or Ii onor for hi,

Damas romallCkI, .ent to Ihe ,alan in ~Iunic·h. Ge nna n) thai sal11e season. An old work. the Damas was executed in 1883 and ,', hibited in Ihe Homan salon of that yea r. Under this atmo ' phe re or economic' ami a rtisti c ga in. Luna proposed to Paz Pardo de Tave ra and obtained he r hand togethe r wilh the t·o ll .~n l of both her bmtl""" and he r widowed mother. Julia na. The Pardo de Tal eras were genuinel) de'l'cnded rrom a marquis whi le Julia na. or mi ,ed indio, Chill t',p a nd pani.h blood, eame rrom I'ion«n I'll Philippine An

23


one of th €" ric hest fa milie; in Manila, the Corrichos. A early as Oc tober 1885, Juan had already been sen ling Paz leLte!"s addre ing her as " you whom I adore with madne s and

1\

ho

1\

ill be my wife:' On 7 December 1886 . Juan and Paz were married. To

('elebrate his wedding, Jua n painted another multi-figure mural e t in the heyday of earl) Ro me . Entilled th'mell ' 0 H) menee!. the piece depi c-ts the inte rior of a Roman temple or pa lac'€" where revele rs a re c heering a newl y-wed couple .

In carly spring of 1887, Ju an a nd Paz we nt to Ital y to s pe nd the ir honeymoon. In \ enil'€". he pa in ted a pa ir of elope me nt scenes ca ll ed Sorprendidos (Surpri ed) et in the famed cana ls of the c ity. During the Ho ly Wef'k which fe ll on th e very month of their trip. the a rtis t fini s hed two pa inting depi c-ting the u(fering Chri s t. both of 1\

hi("h he ga ,'e to his wife.

pon returnin g from their honeymoon. Luna started

painting La mestiza en slilocador (The for it

\\"3'

ti za in He r Boudoir), also ca ll ed Charing,

inspired b) his s is te r-in-l a w. Ro ario Mel gar. the

1\

ife of hi broth er Jose .

Hf' fini lwei it in limt' for the Ex posic i6n Gen era l de Filipinas h Id in Madrid and inaugurated by Queen Ma rfa Cri s tina in June . This exhibition exelu ive ly cons isted of prod uc!' cieri , ed from th e na tura l reso urces of th e Philippines as we ll as maslerpif'ce. by the count ry's leading ,' is ua l arti s ts, mus ic ians, and write rs and was IJrganizf'd by the progresiSl(j~ . offi c ia ls of th e

pa n is h kingdom and the colony led

hy Iht' O,er.ea, Mini te I". Vi c- tor Bal aguer, who we re all deeply inte res ted in improving Ihe c'ondilions of life in the dis tanl colony. Charing won a Diploma of lIunor. For tllP s how. Lun a a lso ex hibil ed a ma rine pa inting, La isla de Ciudeca (unloealed) and Lh e afo rementioned La muert e de Cleopatra . On 29

ove mbe r 1887,

thp Que"n ulH£"i led La batal/a de Lepanto a t Lh e Spani s h e na te. On th e nineleenth of tlw f" lIo" ing mo nth . Lun a was fe ted by th e Fi lipino community in Spain with a [,anql1f't in onp of the plus hi est res tau ra nl s of Madrid. the Re laur'an le Forno . The affair re"a ll ed Ihe ga la dinn er he ld aL Ihe Restaurante Ingles in ]884 Lo celebra te his" inning of the Spoliarillm . It wa allended by sympatheti c Spanis h nobl eme n. imporlant gove rnm e nt offi c ia ls. bu iness ma gnate . and, of course. the arli st's

admiri ng countrymen.

T he a rti s t's nex l are na of triumph was Ih e Expos ic i6n Unive rsa l de Barcelona. In this fa ir, ina ugurated in the earl y pa rI of J 888, Luna exhibited La madre Espana

lIelJando a Sll hija Filipinos 01 camilla del progreso (Mothe r Spain Showing to Her Da ughl er, Philippine., th e Road to Progress) or s imply, Espana) Filipinas. The pa inting dep i" !. two women personifying pain and Ihe Philippines wiLh Lhe forme!" i'ion«u of Philip},lnc An

24


leading the lalter by he r s id e as Ihey asce nd a grand tairca e s trewn with nowers. Commis ioned by Vic tor Bal aguer. thi lall and narrow can va is now in th e Prado Mu eum coll ection. on loan to Ihe Ayuntamie nto de Cadiz. Luna also showed UJ

batalla de Lepanto, which a long with Espana J Filipinas, was classified as hor.l concours or ou ts ide of the competition. La batalla de Lepanto was. however. awa rded a Special Gold Medal; and in Ihe cour e of the fair. Luna was conferred Ihe lowesl rank of the mo t prestigious decoration of the pani h kingdom. the Medalla de /a

Isabe/a La Cat6Lica. for exce ll ence in the fi eld of painting. The period of Ihe late 188 05. howeve r. wi lne sed mounling fin ancia l pressures on Ihe arlist o~ account Qf his growing fam il y. On 9 eptember 1887, hi b wife Paz gal e birlh to their firs t and on ly s urviving child. a son. Andre ' or Luling. Two years later. on 24 l\1ne 1889. daughler Marfa de la Paz or Bibi was born. Baplized on 9 eplember of the same year, durin~ Ihe econd birthday of Lu ling. Bibi would die barely

111'0

yea rs late r. Espana) Filipmas had turned outlo be Luna' lasl commi sian from the pal1i h government. thu . the arlist now had to support his household olel) from the occa ional sale of hi paintings. To add 10 Ihe e difficulties. luan's brother Antonio had arrived from Manila to stud y ph armacy a nd th e artist look on the added re pons ibility of laking care of him. During ha rd times. it was Paz who would help out from her allowa nce drawn from her s ha re of the profits of the fami ly businesse in Manila. In lul l' 1888. Paz uffered a mi carriage. Thus. her mother uggested thai Ihe Luna fa mil y join her in her apartment. In Seplember 1888. Iherefore. the Luna transferred to Juliana Pa rdo de Taveras apa rtmen l al 26 Villa Dupont. 48 Rue Pergole e. In May 1889. the Universal Exposition in Paris was inaugurated. The Spanish enate allowed Luna to displ ay La bataLLa de Lepanto in the Paris a lan but the selection pane l of the Academia did not approve Ihe painting's inclu ion wilhin the pani h contingent. Instead, it on ly a llowed him to s how Hymen! 0 H)wenee! that would obtain a mere Bronze Medal in the show. The artis t deeply felt the slight deli vered 10

him again by his pani h colleague. but he wa immediately di l'erted by what he

had obsen 'ed to be an exciting developmenl in the Parisian art scene: the proliferalion of canvases with soc ial rea listlhemes. He was touched by Ihe direcl appeal of these work which beca me even stronger through Iheir juxl apo ition with the precious hisloricaltabl eaux of acclaimed academists lik e himself in work s such as H),menee. Thus. to Luna. Ihe Universal Exposition was an epiphany: and from this particular Pionecn ofPhiHppif\(An

25


e'-ent came fo rth his fi rs t recorded s ta tement a bout th e decline of acade mi c art. This hi,toric pronouncement was tri ggered by the request of a n intima te Spa ni sh friend . the jou rna lis t J av ie r G6mez de la em a, for th e a rtis t's ob e rvations on the Pari~

salon for hi, column. On 26 May 1889, Luna enthused: "M y fri e nd, how art

has changed! The bigwigs are no longer admired by the publi c while many unknowns hare grabbed the limelight! ... In the expo iti on one has the advantage to s tud y a nd compare the transformation that ali has unde rgone since 1878. I te ll you s incere ly that art ha" become more and more realisti c _ At the mome nt, I don't know wha t a ll thi

is leading to but, no doub t. it wi ll be a n intangible rea lity_ ot a rude and

uncouth one but a sublime real ity in a new form.""

Bellf'\lng that Impressionism with it radica l innovations was a tri via l and pass in g fad, Luna regarded ocial Rea li m. w 10 e tec hniq ues were also based on acade mic principles. as the forthcoming expres iOIl of s ignificant a rt in Europe. What could be more sublime than chari ty for the do\\ ntrodden? Me mbers or sympathi zer of th e '0('iali 5t Party of France. the ocial Hea li t

,foc u s~d

their subj ect on the miserable

("ondl tions of the poor. a plight brought abo ut by the exploitative capita lis t sy te m \I

ith its mode of production of good. Their pai nting , the refore. depic ted lowly

offi("1' workers. factor) hand. mine rs, peasan t -. an d begga rs. A sce ne

of

exploitation. the"e pieces naturall y were genre scene" whic h the academy, the refore, rl'garueu as "rude and uncouth" but whi c h Luna now described as hav ing the pokntial for ""ublime" expres ion. To emphasize hi point, he continued: "G ra nd painting - the hi storica l canvas - (a nd) its prec ious e ffects have di sappeared , a nd rlp"pite the fact that

0

ma ny Austria ns.

pa ni h and ome Ita li a n pa inters have

,ent their best works . it i evide nt th at thi s type of a rt can no longer win the ba ttl e. -\11 the e prt'le ntiou - creat ions have bee n di c redit ed a nd the truth has triumphed . Yes' The historical canvas is dead. beginning with its underl ying intention . Tho e who think that a good painting is im ply brought about by a good compositi on, correct crafts mans hip, bri ll iant colors a nd a lot of orna menta l e ffec ts are wro ng . .. The new art is, of 'ourse, in the hand of th e youth who unde r ta nda bl y a re the more daring. To give credit to whom it i due, they are mo ti l' Fre nch a nd th e mark etpl ace of the 1889 salon has become the ir ba ttl eground_ After the French, come the wed ish, the Dutch, th e Hu sians a nd the North Ame ri ca n _The last are unde r th e tute lage of Frenc h master,. As th e cata logue of the ex hibit hows, a lmost a ll th e yanqui,:; are ,tud~n t" of thi. a nd tha t Frenc h teac her."" Objecti vely ra ting his own work , he

added, "And us! T he re is no s park wha tsoever in our work

that s mac k of the

Pionn:rs oflJhilipplnc An

26


momentou achievements of Vel6squez and Goya, the names perennial in our lips whenever we recite the Rico and hi

icene Creed of painting. Madrazo with his precious portraits,

enetian scenes. Moreno Cambronero and his Duque de Gand(a, Gi bert

and his cenes of executions, Ca ado with hi Re) mOllje, Domingo wi th his kittens,

1. Aranda with his Consumalum est. Luna with hi Hymenee, Villodas with hi Naumaqu(a, Pradilla with his Rendici6n de Granada. Benlliure and his Serm6n are here to represent our pictorial art, our antique school. for all thi s is, indeed. old! Executed with talent - as a few, indeed, are. but this type of painting. notwithstanding, is plainly imitative and ins incere,"13 In 1890, after he converted to social realism. Luna would declare hi new affi li ation to Jose Rizal , in another historic statement. this time. s uccinct: " I belong to the dissident salon and r. Hida lgo to the old and routinary one!" The "I". Hidalgo" he wa referring to was his countryman. reli, Resurrecci6n Hidalgo who was more laid back in both hi sty le and personal manner,;. Inc uded i\1 the Ayala Mu eum's Luna holdings is a coll ection of s tudies. on pernlanent loan from the Bank of Ule Philippine Is lands. that reflect the significant turns in Luna's art from the time of his transfe r to Pa ris to his inl'ohement with ocial Reali m. In accordance with the theme of thi e say. the pieces chosen here are, of course, those that demonstrate the artist'

uperb mastery of the human fonn.

As tudies, these works intimate the very step and strategies that Luna took in undertaking not just figural representation but also the fin al organization of his paintings. In addition to these compo itional ins ight is the his torical value of the e works as pieces directly coming from Ihe a rtis t' estal e and lat er inheriled by son. Andres Luna de an Pedro. " To Juan Luna a well a his contemporaries - his counlrymen. particularly -boeclos or s tudies had the double importance of not just being preparatory works or exercises but also a souvenirs or documentations of work. espec ially those that are certain to be inaccess ible or difficult for others to reac h later. like slate-commissioned pieces, or works destined for distant lands. At a time when Ule camera was not as readily available - or manageable - as il i today. studies were the way by which an artist cou ld keep a record of a favorite or important work or, if away from home. as in Luna' case, send a handy replica. whether roughly compl ete or ju t a detail of the fini shed piece, to his loved ones. The importance of studie has been proven notably in Luna's case for many of Ihe arli st's works have been lost. Many were burned during World War II; many are still in Spain. France, Germany. England and Austria Pioneers or P.."ilippint An

27


\\aillng to he d iscovered ; but a lot were 81

0

int e ntiona ll) de troyed by his in-laws

after tlw tragedy that' i ited the family in 1893. The fir. t , tud y to be disc ussed l1I're .

111(1)

Jor a Pori rail aJBlal/che al/d

llllU

(labelled in th e ex hibiti on as Sea led

ullh in While). i an example of doeumentation of a piece that may till be in Eurup,' until no\\. The exact identity of thesf' individuals is un"nown but they eeml'd to haw b,'en intimate friends - c lose neighbor., it see m '- of Juli a na Pardo de laH'ra as borne out by many detail in th e boeeto that have abo been captured in phutographs .till f', tant. Futhermore. Andres. Luna's on, who did the inventory of hi, fatl1<'r', painting. \\ hich he e,entua ll y inherited, \\ as the one who identified thi 't'l}

study. Blanche. captured in a lmos t middle g(o und. i seated rea ding a

nr""paper. Onl) her head and right arm are rendered in realistic co lor whi le th e rest of 11I'r figurf' is merely estab li,hed by a fe\\ -ha rp line. Todd ler

unu , settl ed

on the Ooor, i. rendered e,'en more sklltchil y. Hi s or her form is mere ly suggested by

the small ,pot of blank space at the right of Bl anc he's feet a well a a few faint line and two small ;,treab of red paint. Blancha', ,ea t appea rs s imilar to the one made of \\ i(路" .. r in the farther plane. A s imilar chair is captured in the famous photograp h

Detail

tak .. n of Luna. Rizal and another friend. Vale tin Ventura, a U dressed up in fencer'

SEATED LADY INWHtTE

I(arh. and. triking macho po es with their swords. As a matter of fact. Bla nche a nd

Undated Oil on wood

\unu ,wrp captured at far right of this re, ered photograp h. IS Also in th e boceto is a

44.5 x 37.5 em

Lu,t on a lerlge behind Blanche. This object i a l a captured in a group pic ture s till IH.. ,pned in th e Pardo de Tavera coll ec ti on .'" Aside from Bla nche a nd Nunu. Luna paint~d anothpr woman. one with dark compl exion, in the background. Luna partl y

fini,lwu her head with ('olor wh il e her dre s is merely ugge ted by a fe w line . he "a, actua ll y hou"ehold help brought by the Pardo de Taveras from the Philippines or tilt' Marianas i,lands. While the photograph of th e three men wa take n in the ~' arr1 of the Dupont compound . Blanche.

unu a nd th e maid may have at for th e ir

portrait, In a room in Mrs. Pardo de Tavera' Villa Dupont apartme nt that was (路onwrt .. d into the arti t's studio when Luna a nd fam il y tra ns ferred the re in 1888.

I [o""\"('r, one ,hould take note th at the le ngth and he ight of lhe diago nal and vel1i cal lin .. " of the ledge behind Blanche and those of the horizontal line be hind the maid. if properly sca led , wou ld corre pond with tho e of the lines of th e building and the wall fenee behind the three men in the photograph. Andre' date for the painting is

1889. Shortly after th e Luna family transfe rred to Ru e Pe rgolese, Luna also pa inted a .elf-portra it with Nunu in tow, now a lost piece. Luna left the boceto a t that p8l1i cular tage \\hen it was enough for him to estab lis h th e di stance between the various planes in th e painling in ord er to get th e correct s izes of the fi gures. I'ion芦n or I'hllippinc An

28

Bank of the Philippine Islands Collection


Based on exta nt materia l, Luna pa int ed onl y a few nudes, abo ut ix includ ing tudies. The reclining nud e, s igned and dated, "Luna I Paris 1889 in the Ayala Museum has been e ntitled DeSlluda reclinada (Maternidad) in a biographi cal accoun t of the painter by a rchitect Carlos da

il va published in 1957." It was in 1957 that the

Philippines celebrated the cent ennial of Jua n Luna's birth. leading to the publication of ma teri als and the organization of a ti vities focused on the artist. among IIhich we re da il va' biography and an inte r-i land ex hibiti on of the artist's works'S In all likelihood. the work referred to as Desnuda reclinada (Maternidad) was abo the one reproduced in a magaz ine publ ished in the "Reclining

a rn e year and captioned as

ude I Paris 1889,"19 ince mo t of Lu na's nude we re reclined. perhaps

the Ayala piece should adopt the titl e, Desll uda recLinada (Maternidad) or its English trans lalion a this essay ha done. An ev ide ntl y fini s hed work and. therefore. not really a s tud y, R.eclining

ude (Maternity) is evidentl y th e type that fall under the

class ification of a record copy, that is. a s ma ll version by the artist to document an imp rtant or favo rite work tllat he had entered and old ei ther in a large exhibition or a priv'a te gall el}' in tha t yea r - this is prec isely why he made a reco rd of it. Ii hil .. Juan Luna i ac tually th <; most doc umented fi gure in Philippi ne colonial art hi5tol)'. our present knowl ed ge is so meagre. All that we know comes from the pieces of information that reached the count ry through publica ti ons and recollect ions. which were under tandably never complete s ince what was di cussed depended on their imp0l1ance to the needs of the ti me - or s impl y the whim of the writers or narrators, Thus, we will probab ly never know certain as pects of Luna's life that were deemed unimportant at the time. such a the questions ra ised by Reclining Nude (Ma tern it) ). Here are a few: aside from his salon pieces. it is on record - a nd it is understandable - that Luna painted and sold works intended for prac ti cal pu rposes. inc luding the ma intenance of his household. Where did he ell these wo rks? Cuadros de pacolilla or pot boilers was the expression used for such wo rk but the term i not really derogatory - at leas t from today's point of view. if quality is main ta ined in the e works - because it was the acade mician'

snobbish termi nology for non-salon

types of works. that is. genre: nudes, domestic scenes. ma ll views. and . tilllifes. Where the n did Luna sell his cuadros de pacotilla? In what ga lleri es did he cons ign these works? Who were his French contac ts in the world of art dea ling? T he title.

Reclining Nude (Matern it) ). also ra ises questions because in as much as the pa inting was inscribed. "Paris 1889" and Paz was in Pa ri a nd was pregnant wi th their s hort-lived daughter. Marfa de la Paz 0 1' Bibi in 1889. does it mea n that matern idad referred to Paz and that Paz

W3

(IionÂŤn or~,:,hiJi p pinr An

29

the mode l? Would Luna have posed Paz in the nude


for the

publi~

to s('e? Would Paz have consented'? In a ll actuality, Paz's pregnancy

cou ld haH' inspired Jua n but he, as made ev ide nt by th e face of th e s ubject, used anothN model - unless he idealized Paz' features, whi c h was ofte n the case. The piece rea ll y shows a pregnant woman. Luna painted he r body with a s welling womb and full brea ts. The woman's welling voluptuous form tands out agai ns t the s nowlike \\ hite background a nd the cloLh that cove rs her pude nda i painted in the artis t's typil'al blue-grt'en. Reclining Nude (Mat emitÂť ) i de finitely anothe r of the artis t's ma,tt'rpit'ce, dwelling on the huma n form . The breasts and the belly. marvelou Iy executpd. are palpably en uou s. a nd the modd's arm and face a ttest to Luna' ma,tel) of foreshortening. \ftt'r the Pari, t'xpo ition, exct'pt for one or two pi e"es that w~re painted over long intel'\als, Lun a s topped painting Crt'c -Roma n tabl eaux. Soc ia l Realis m had made an impact on the French pub lic to s ue au exte nt that in ] 890, or jus t after the Lni,,'rsal Expo.ition. its adhe re nts, togethe r wit h otlwr a rti s ts in sear ch of new p\pre"ion but \\ ho also distrusted Imprt's ioni m, like Puvi de Chavann e , banded togptlwr to form the . ociet"

a tiona le de Bea ux Art â&#x20AC;˘ . The Soc ie te Nationale right

8\\av obtained approva l from the French government and wa allowed to hold their salum. at tllP Champs-de-Mars while the oc ie te des Arti tes Fran~ai maintain ed thpir' at the Champs-Elysees. (As iconoclast , the Impression is ts would neve r ga in lormal recognition from tht' French e tablis hment and the ir work we re old in pl;vate gall~rit',,) COl1\in~ed

abou t th e decline of Clas ico- Romantici s m, Luna painted hi

II"t Social Rr-ali. t major work, us Moins Malheurellx (The Less Unhappy) in 1890.

It was ar'('PJltt'd by the Soc ie te

a tional e in the ir sa lon of tha t yea r. the ir very first.

\ sr'pnp dppicting shabb il y dressed emac ia ted people aim les Iy walking in a s tree t,

Le., Uoi" .' \/allteureux pointed to the ex is te nce of even trul y more unfortunate sou ls, thp "xploiter! workers, a s ubj ec t tha t th e arti st would tackle over the nex t two year. Thi, work has not yet been found . but it wa reproduced in th e a lon' cata logue.'!O It i, u"knml n if th e artist en te red other pieces, with only th e Malheureux accepted b) the jury. But the foll ow ing yea r. 189 1, th e

oc ie te

ationale acce pt ed hi s

mt'ITlhp"hip. a tatus that allowed him to ex hibit up to 10 paintings at the Champsd .. -Mars wi thout hal ing to pa s through the board of jurors . Two pieces qualified him for tIlt' pri vi lege: Le Ch iffonier (Spanish: Eitrapero, Englis h: The Ragpi c ke r) showing an old man s tooped over with th e we ight of a ba ket of rags s tra pped to hi s s hou ldprs while hi s arms a re ove rhung with old ha ts and bags; and us Ignores (knrlll n va ri ous ly in ' pani h aet'ounts as 1..0., desheredados a nd Heroes Ctn6nimos

30

Detail

RECLlNtNG NUDE 1889 Oil on canvas

34 x 60 em Bank of the Philippine Istands ColleclJon


and in English one as Th e DiJinheri/ed and Unknown Ones, also Unknown Heroes). showing a fun ral in progress in whi ch a group of people rna ti l' seen from behind are escorting a mak eshirt wooden cortin." To paint these th eme, Luna visited the lum and factories of Pari and even can ulted Ri ta l on what books to read. On hi, own, he started with an anthology of soc ialist theories, edited by E. de Laveleye and featuring Karl Marx, La aile. and the Catholic oc ialists. ' bout his visit to an iron foundry, he dec ribed the condition he had wi tnessed to Ri zal as far worse than whatever mi erie the indios were undergoing in their home land. The Chiffonier IS currently unlocated while Les Ignores is noll' in the coll ection of the Bibliote('a Museu Victor Balaguer in Vilanova i la Celtru in pain. Luna participated for the last time at the Champs-de- Mars salon in 1892. His entry,Allanl-Ga rde (The Advan<'e Cuard) al a entitled in French publications as I.e.. Ba/aJeuses ( treet weepers) an in pani h accounts a La vanguardia (The Vanguard), depicted three hrive!face~

old women with their boom trundling to their eu tomary task at da\\n" TIll'

paintl'\1g is now also at the Biblioteca Mu eu \ ictor Ba laguer. That very year. he \\as totall yengros ed in the preparation for hi ent ry in the

niveral Expo itlon to be

held in Chicago the followi ng year. He wa able to fini sh it but would not be able to end it because of the crisis happening to hi family. The piece, Peuple el ROI.,

(People and Kings), destroyed in Manila during World War II, depicted the de truction of the roya l tombs in th e Cathedral of

t.

Denis by a Parisia n mob.

Dwelling on the inhumanity of man to his fellow humans. Luna's ocial Realist pi ece are focused exclusively on the human form. The photograph of the fini hed but unlocated Les Mains Malheureux haws the fi gures as blurry and trembling, bordering on Expres ioni m in the tyle of the Nonvegian Edvard Munch. The ocial Realist piece in the Bank of the Philippine I land collec tion on show at the Ayala Mu eum are rare studi e for the abovementi oned work.. Les Mains Malh eureux:

Two ludies of a Woman affords a rare glimpse of the presently lost work . fIIan Helping Carr) a Makeshift Coffin and 7lvo Men Seen From Ih e Rear are studi es for Les Ignores. Raga muffin, Youlh wilh a Slick. and Rioleer Searchillg Ih e Rubble are ex ploratory motifs, that i , they do not appear in an)' of the arti t's fini shed " arks but they were among th e ideas the arti st was still exploring whil e dec iding the fin al appea rance of hi s works. In the case of Ragamuffin, the final painting to which this study is assoc iated

i~

still unlocated while Youth /IIilh a lick and Rioleer ea rching

Ihe Rubble are traditionally a cribed to People and Kings. All th ese studi es are typi ca l academic work: firm and olid fi gures, though in the fini shed work. tluough

31


Luna's brochada . the ' e fonn ' have looser outline a nd vibra te with e nergy. Th e motifs for People o"d Kings . on t he oth e r ha nd . a re re nde re d in force ful , t'xprt"s;ionistic stro kes.

On 23

eptember 1893. crisis in th e Luna fa mil y brought a bout by the a rli s t's

financial problems and his jea l ou s i e~ on acco unt of his u pic ion tha t hi wife wa ha\ ing an affair with another man . cu lm inated in hi fa tal s hooting of his moth er-inlaw and wife . He wou ld spend five mon lh ill prison whil e hi s case was tri ed . The French court acquitted him on the grou nds that hi mi deed was a "crime of pas ion:' Ill" \\~ ordered to pay a ymbolic fine of one franc plus the cOUli expe nses amounting to 1.651 franc. and 8.3 centime,YThe Pardo de Tavera fa mily prote ted hi acquitta l ano sought ju.tice again but it is on record tha t the pun ish Overseas Minis te r, in tlw name of the young king Alfonso X III . 'Hote the Fre nch government to have the

Detail

ca,e dosed permanently.

YOUTH WITH STICK Undated

Oil on wood

In \Iay 189路[, Luna returned 10 the Phi lipp'ncs togeth t"r with son Andre a nd brolher ~ntonio.

Back in hi, coun try. he wou ld pin t magnifice nt pOlira it , ex hilarating

lamjs(路ape. and genre ,cenes and wou ld even take a tri p to Japa n in 1896. In Augu t 1896. upon the oU lbreak of the Ka tipuna n rebe lli on. he a nd hi three brothers were a rr.. "ted for complicity.

po n his re lease. he le ft for pa in to inte rcede for Antonio

,\ho was detained. Abroad. h.. heard news of the vic lory of lh e Phili ppine cause and the new Philippine pre,ident Em il io Agu inaldo ins tru(路 ted him to wo rk for the r~(' ()~nition of Philippine ,overeignt y d uring negoti a tion on the Treaty of Pa ris . On

his way back to the Phi lippines. he died of a hea rt attack in l'long Kongon 7 December 1899. on Ihe anniversary of hi wedd ing day. His achi eveme nt s in Philippine a rl , w,' r,. and r~main unpara ll ed. J uan Luna left a form ida bl e legacy of ma te rpieces thai hi, fellow countrymen reve re to Ihis day. The Aya la Mu eum is the pro ud hold er of man) of thesf' pif'cf's wh ich fi rmly esta blis hed Luna . a maste r of the Class icoHomantic and the Socia l Healis t lyles , as a corn e rs tone in the developme nt of Philippine arlislic heritage.

I',olln:n of Illuhppinc An

32

45x31 em Bank of the PhIlippine Islands Collection


EndnoLe, I "Biogruphil'nl NOIe~." r;tflh~. I IlPlrOSfW('tin! £ .r/"'b";o,, (\Iauillt. 1«-J86l, no PUI!"lUllUll 1\\0 ..our(·t·... IHHt:' difTt"n'1I1 dUll:... for Illl' 8c:tuui foundillg (If Ih,' ".""'\ll'ln fl,· lJibujn. H<lm6n (,oll/AI,,/ h-rntiJl(.Icz OIld h'dNiro JforCl ill 110,,"ul (It!! ' UlJ(·rtJ f'" Fillfn"m C\luniiu. 187.5). p. 27 "'uk Ih ut II ,~,'" c:-;Iuhli" hed on 2 IlI'j't'fOhN 1623. The narratiull of Iht' HI'.a! ~{)(' il'flarll-:I 'nrlnllll('(l cit.> \l1Ii f.to .. fl," Par.... hO\\('\I·r. li.,h Ih~ dutt' of IIIf:' SdlOOr... foundlllg a..'" 8 (klul:M!r 182:l rhi ... IIlIlhllr i ... i'H'lilwriln hdi,,\t, tluIUller .,i lw{' il .. dutu \Hlt. c'ulll'(J from Iht' papt' ...... of tit(' ..",x'wh ... rrah,ljn ... ~ h,·(,lIu .. Ilutuhl,-.. lIf' 1.1 ...... 1I·il·d,ld EC()UOlllil'U cll·.. c!e 1822 hU'ila 1877 ..• EI Cmnt'r6o \I: '786 f2b 'pril 181111. ".:t 1 \li ll iam Fll"lIIlf1l11g. Iru "milt/em (\p\\ )ark. 1980).1 •. 2CJ2. I \uliollui ll erol"" (.oll1l11i~"lon.lll::.als COrrt'.ffHJrull'nn' U1111 Fdlml' Rf:fllrrlU\h \ ul. 2 BUill.. III (Il onil •. 196:ll. p. lSI. " SuntingCl \ . Pilar. "1\\0 Ht'llillriulcd I.ulla ... •• Tilt> lltmilll CI",nud" 116·22 \lu~ 1992). In lill" t!"luhitioli. IlIl· ... t.· palll l lll~~ un' labelled a.. l .m/, allhl' RlIn·lrtuJ.. awl \lummi U illl \Jfll/lf/fi. n'''p<Tln ,·h " JU"I ho\\ iJltlfliUIt.' Lunu \HI" \\ilh 1111: lobel ... h bonlt' oul II, hi.., 11"I1"r In J" .. ,' Hi/al dult . d:3O ~'ph'llIllt'r 189 1 ill \\hil'llll(" in ... lru('It'd Ihe lallt'r \\hn "U~ lUI hi .. \\U) In \Iullili.! In "rin~ run .. 10 Irinid utl/uh,·1 flf' \ )ula. \Vlfe of Jut'ubu lollt>1 !,.mgroni .... Ihl' fiN lol>t'1. IJ GI'rnUlI1 , ill Ih,· dUll. '-laid r.lII" IIIU .. t h'I\I" Iwt'lI al lea .. t tll'nttdlll (or Luna alo;o gan· Hil'.altht· iJ1\ui"j' rnr Iht:' "bjt'l"h 10 III' prt'",·nlt·c! III <'u.,lum ... III \I Bllilli. 110 ill<o;lnU't,·d lilt" lalte:r 10 ('olleC'1 111(' c..U .. IUlII''' dUlil'" .1I1t1 ot ller 1·"JH'II"t·" rrOlI1 \1,..... "lh,'I. Ih,· nH) Il·"b('lIIg Hlitt l., bu ... in,~ .. til I.una romill had b"I\\l'j'l1llw lud~ ,IIHllli ... bmllwr J" .. {' \ulillllal II l'rot'. . . 01111111 .... 1011. Ri::."I; Orf'f"fppnJeflct" II ill, F,.Il,m R''inrmi.~/\ (\Iunila. IfJb..1J. p. 60:). 1 Carl .. Quirinu. " " unilu'... f·hnol nr Painling .... !-'/'ilipp".,. ""1/1(1'1'\ \ \ :2 :i 18 f \pnl 1c)()71. :!

' Ibid.. pl' :l I8-il 19. ·' Ibid.. p. .1.50. IU "I116t. C'nmml"nh nrc. dl'riled rrmn dipping... or Fn'lI('h 11I'\\"PJlwr- ruund III IIH' '· ... Iuh" of 111f' an, .. 1 Ih,11 \HL,", inhcrilt'(1 b Juan·..... on. ,\ndn.... Luna fit' 'ID PI,.lm. ancl ultimalt'I~. \ruln·. .: "!"'c'llllri hir,·. (7r,lt"l· \ IcCrea LUI1B cit· '-Iall I\'dm. \t'1') 1II1rnrtunuld,. lilt' dippill~'" In' IInl pmpNI) i,II,'lIlilit,tl. Lilill'T till" "Ollrt'C'" or Ihe dUh' 'II \\hic:h tilt' ...OUrt't:.. \\t'n' plIhli .. ht'. 1\\('n' 11111 11e11l'll c1uhl1 .. , h." rollflhillj! Iii It'.. flf joumal" ancilll'w"pUI)(·r,., hme het!n nolc'ci: "uni/t'"r til" Irl \; Ir " 01\ ,fO"lrt': ('rmm,.r ,J,.s 'fllr./p Tl'mfJJ, Le.~ 1.A'lIr('_( IIlId r i ll/oral.

.. Jo..~ Banlug. Epi.flfAflrrn d,.I,1UlIlJr juun 1..llOn ("mimI. 1<)551. pp.:n·:ll. " Ibid. Pi>. :l l-3S. Il /bifl. p. 35. Il ,Amire... or Lu ling. who dlt'd on 22 JallUal') 1952. dt' .. if!:lu·d IIUIlII'flUI ... j·lt,t:::unl huildillJ!:....and pn\ .11t' f{'-;idcnl'6 in \1 ulli la. arlt.·r oblaining hi:'. diplol1w ill <lrc'llItc'('!Un' rOllllll)!' l"rt'lH"h ~1l\t.'nlllll'1l1 in 191H. I', 'I'll(> pllologruph i~ f{'producI'd in San t ia~o \ (hallo Pilar. jll(lII I.I/tw: til(' filip,,' rJ I ,~ Puinll'( tPu .. i!!. I 980}. 11. 180. 11111,,· book. hQ\\t:H,'r, B1andw "a,", t·rrolwou ... h iell·llIllil·,1 ib Pill P.miu dt' Ta\l'm. nit' caption mention ... un ",,"identified chileI"' "hi"h I'" actual" \UIIU hUI ,,11U .. t· il1H1~" th,·la)-uUI .lfli ..1 unro l1unatd) c'mpped rrolJl IIH' phnlogrnplt. 1ft \l rn'cI \ h-Lo,. 1nllrrh, ()/Fflmiltr( (Qu(,7ol1lil) . 199H. p. :m:~. 17 Carloo; cia Sih.l. "Bril,r Chronolug) or Luna'" 1 irc' ami "or!... .. :· jm",,,,1 of lIi.\/rJrt \ ::i-I tl9.=ii). Rt.·prin led u... Jilt", I..UIIO I \ OI'irt(J: Fin' l"lemalimwlll A,WI/II Filtplnll Pm,,'t'r I \lanilu. 19i7). na "'il\;1 n'(·on ... lnH'lt·d hi .. c· hn:)f\QI0f.~ rmm Iwlt.... lul..t>1I rrtllll lilt' 1II1'lIlOrulllhll nl \mln'" 1 lUlU cll' '-Ial1 Pl"clrn. n,l Siha. an an·hilt·t·l. \\u . . fonunOlt' 10 Im\t' \~uT!...'·lllIfI{lt'r \mln'" I.u lla tit' ' ,HI P('dru. Ihu ... Iw \\1.1 .. ,.!"\I oble 10 inlt'n It·" Iht' lalll'T. 18 SOliII' 5U 10 on JUlin I.unn pailllll1~~ C'Ul1Il' from Ih,' \mln' .. I.unn ,' .. luh'. \11 Ilc'('umk ,",}Lilli .. llUuld 11.11.." into un'ollnl flit'('I'" on \\(Jod painh'd 011 bOlh ... idle'''' I" \ 0 out ltor.. " Lulla: Iii", I.ire ancl 'Jjnw ...·. rlli~ lI el'k. \ 11 :-10 (6 Ol'loj,{'r 1957). p. 28. III Sm'i~lc alionil ic lit.' Bl·au:\. \ rh. Exposilion ' (llimw/f,tll' Ill'tIlLl. Ir" CUlalngu(· II/1.d,,. d,·~ Olllrag'·.~ til' P('i ll /url!, SC/lirptlrl' ,'I Grrll'lIrf' f...xptJse.( (Ill C/UJtIIll5·dr. l hm It' IS 1/oi 189() (Pori ..... 189<.)J. p. 132. 21 Soc.i~t e nlionalc cit- Bt-Itu:\. I\rt... El."/HJJilicJfI , ,,l/m,,,lt' ti" IJI'fIll.1 t rh Ctll"/O/{"f' III1.\lrl' dr.~ ()UlrrI/{I'\ dt' Pe'lIll1re. SCIlItPlIrt· ('I Grtll'llrf' E"lm.It!.~ (Ill C/UJmp,H{,·- 1/arJ It' I'; HtH' 1891 (Pari .... 18<)1). pp. 69. 178. ZI. Ibid., p. 15. 1..1'" 1 ~ l lOn·'~ und \ \'Ullt·Gard~ tlrl' rt'pmclut·,·cl ill 1Ji.(('t1lt·rlllg Philippilll' Irl ifl _ ' flfllII . pp, 226. ;.!.1 \ mllt'lh H. 0"81111)0. " Look i n~ Hac!...: Co", it'lc,J I1ml Fil1l',d ," Philip/II'flt' Olli!, II/quirer (I Junt.· 20(}·1). 1'. 111 5.

Plon«" n( Philippine An

33


LA MARQUESA DE MONTE OLiVAR

1881 Oil on canvas

104.2 x 68.6 em Gift of paz Zamora de Mascuiiana

35


WOMAN WITH MANTON ca. 1880s 011 on canvas 112.5x77cm Gift of Mercedes Zobel McMlcklng

36


LADY ATTHE RACETRACK

ca 1880s Oil on canvas

112.5x77cm Gift of Mercedes Zobel McMlCking

37


RECLINING NUDE

1889 011 on canvas

34x60cm Bank of the Philippine Islands Collection

38

I


SEATED LADY IN WHITE Undated 011 on wood

44.5 x 37.5 em Bank of the Philippine Islands ColieClion

39


TWO STUDIES OF A WOMAN Undated Oil on canvas

45 x 31 em Bank of the Philippine Islands Collection

40

I


MAN CARRYING A CHEST Undated

ad on wood 45 x 36.5 em Bank of the Ph,lipp,ne Islands Coliedlon

FlLJrlNAS HERITAGE lIBRAr~ or Plonrrn

Philippine Art

41


YOUTH WITH STICK Undated Oil on wood

45x31 em Bank of the Philippine Islands Collection

42


Study for PEOPLE AND KINGS Undated Oil on canvas 43 x 30.1 em Bank of the PhIlippIne Islands CollectJon

43


RAGAMUFFIN Undated all on canvas

22x 10.7 em Bank of the Philippine Islands Collection

Pion(el$ of Philippine An

44


TWO MEN SEEN FROM THE REAR Undated Oil on canvas

45 x 30.8 em Bank of the Philipp,ne Islands Collection

Vionecrs"rP.hilippincAn

45


BY ROD. PARAS-PEREZ

o ueto Amorsolo dominated Philippine painting from th e time he emerged with his seminal Rice Planting in 1922 to the onset of World War II in 1941. Yet, his colleagues at the chool of Fine Arts at the University of th e Philipp'nes (UP) - Dominador Ca taiieda, Irineo Miranda, Dr. Toribio Herrera, et al., including his uncle and mentor, Fabian de la Rosa - considered his brother Pablo Amorsolo the stronger arti t and a better draftsman. I Still every young artist of the time aspired to paint like Fernando. And, after World War II, every artist on Mabini Street was painting a la Fernando Amol'soio or at least, choo ing subjects and theme Fernando Amorsolo would have c hosen, Why?

Pion"" of Philippine' An

47


Before the dec'ade of the t\\ enties ended. Fernando -\morso lo's name wa more tha n I..no\\n. he had aehi e \ eel ce lebrity enough to be used for e ndorsements s uch as: "CeI",brated Artist (·hoose the Marque tt e Built a t Buic·k·'. Or indeed , of ufli c ie nt fumt' as to merit an ode from the cel ebrated poe t, Jesus Balmori:

Ell

III

pin eel glorioso el .01 se Iw ee colore.,

Por 10 que ell tanto el iris Call tu rision eomparte. Yo eres

WI

Amor solo. tief/ e. miles de amores

tdorando IU arte."

f ernaJldo \1110"'010', paintings. reprodu ced ~ cale ndars, notahly a seri es of paintings "ubl i,hed by In su la r Liff> Assura nce Compa ny. mad

hi s na me as popula r in th e

pro\ inc'ps a, it "a, in Man il a . . \n d ye t, \\Tit e r. who doubled a art criti cs ;,ue h as 'i. P. Lopez and Franz p~a

rcell ana deplored I\morsolo's dulcet image.s featuring fes ti ve

.. ants.

\\ 11\ "a, Al11or,olo so popular, ce le brat ed, and yet so mis under tood? Why so pena,iH'I) ~mula t ed . yet grudgingly acce pted?

Faillan df' la Rosa. Direc tor of the

I' c hool of Fine I\rt s, uncle and

inllial mt-ntnr of Fe rna ndo Amorso lo, painted genre scenes, of paisallos tilling the fie lds with as much zest as Fe rnando Amorsolo but without th,· ,unligh t rlane'ing on th e fi gure or the festive colors a nd mood of \ """M,lo. \\'orking with precise ly de linea ted image ' with we ll-s tat ed tllnal \ alues remini"'ent of Europea n old ma"te rs. Fa bia n de la Ro a nt-atr-d Images which were as he ft y as th e idea l he conveyed to fJollllnador Castaneda - as solid and mailltollg a a gr~e n mango." "ilt-I'p~d in tlw metier of cla.,s ica l painting, De la Rosa nonethe le 5 felt the impact

of reuli"n when he s tudi ed at th" Academ ic Juli en in Pa ri s where the premier exponen t of realism. Gustav,. COUl·be t was a lso on ce a s tude nt. Thus, unlike Jua n Luna or Feli\ Re,um-c('fon Hid a lgo. De In Rosa had no hes itation reconnec ting with tl1<' rea li , ti c, g'- llrc--rooted Filipino pa illting traditi on e rs twhil e known as tipos

del poi.l. Moreovl'r, lik(' COLll'be t, the work s of De la Rosa were s t.udio pieees -

Pionern urrhiJippine An

48


perhaps with s tudi ps done in

.,;/11 hUI !'ornpl!'l .. cI

a ma.te r's metrer but (,ertainly

\I

in lilt' slucli o

\I

ilh Ih .. lonaliti .." of

ithoul th" pie", (lire li ~hl ne" of Ihe Impr<·"ionisb.

nor their spa rkling unlight.

The effort to "chie"e Ih .. dazzling pia) fu"H''' of "unlighl ('am,' intn Phd'pplIH' painting

\I

ith Fcntando ;\mor,olo.

Thi.., mea nt images :-,t'f'mingl) clis~oh (.. cI and n-'('onfiJ{urt'd in .. nnw otlWf \\a~:-.: 10:-.1 and found ('ontoUnl blended then ff'-f'IlIt'rgt'd from tlHAir !',urroundiJlg:--: ilia ...... !·:"! 01

li ghts ancl dark . llUdow. - sOl1lelil1les ai mo'l independent 01 Ilw Ii"urt· or an ""1"1'1

-appear 10 dmll't' \\ilh lht'iro\\11 movement. . : yet ~oJ11eho" still ~lIC·(·t-"p(lIn~ In rlt·fllllflJ! lhe image . The rang.. of I' ernando \l1Iorso lo', palell l' app .. arecl bri llhl .. r alii I hroncl,·r. ret

\I

ith nothing off-k,,),.

\11101" - 0 10

ad, i('

\I

actually at' hie,pd pleasant color hannoni," h, loll l)\lin/( D,· la H'"a',

hpn hI' left for EUTope in 19 19 II) stud) \ ,'Ia'quez. \ ll1ur.. oln oJi,,'''' ,'r,·" "'

\ plasqupz Ihe pf~ eti",. usp of gre),. in allaining !'olor halant'e ancl th ... ill1pal'l Ihal ('an be ac hie l ed b) indicaling forl1l in"tanll) /(raslwd at a I(lan" ...

The a pproal' h ga,e \ll1orsolo', works a li,elin,'''' a 'park I,· nol '''''n in I'hilippilll' painling hefore. It i:s a \islIal gramm ar. a metie r al mo:-,I oppo~ ih ' thai of De la Rosa\" gf'l1~ratioll \\ ho

were someho\l stilll o!' ked into the cia •• i.. i.ti!' norm id'· l1tili ..d b) 11"illri<,h \\"lIn,n ' as lin ear. Amor olo', pa inle rl y ap proa!'h lIa, onl) gradual" ar,'epll'''. \1l1"n~ Amorsolo's coll"agues at Ihe L P _ (·hool of Fin .. \ ,1". on l) tlw .<'ulplor Guill .. nllo Tolentino and Ih e pa inte r Dorninador Ca,laileda had

g01W

abroad - thu- exp",ed tn

\'ariou art ('urrenl •. \ fler hi, . Iint at the ('hool of Ilw Arl In,tilllt .. of Cil1cago. Cablafieda ar'lually 1110\ r-d c lo::ser to \ mor.. olo·s \ l:-.ion. at 011t" point ht'('oming Amor,olo', mn"c/l{Jdor. On .. lands!'ape from eu,taii,·da', <,.ta le actllall) bore buth Amorsolo's lind Cablaiieda":, signatures on lop./o

Amorsolo nel'er assumed Ihe slance of a re iJpJ. I~ath .. r. he !'on,,·ioll.l) s laked a pos ilion bet",pen the mod"rnisl and Ihe tradilional urli ,ts. li e respec- Ied originalil ). but r('.pp('ted abOlP a ll Ihe rules of good las t,· .' lIi s delotion 10 th e aesllwti,'

PjonC"(n

of Philippine An

49


,,~horta tion ,

"Ne plus u/lra," nothing beyond . was actually a class ical s ta nce, a

de , otion to the discipline and ideals of classical co mpos ition, complete with its eq ui, a le nt geometric configuration - the golde n mean rectangle."

II was in his riverine landscapes that AmOl

0 10

came closest to the c ircle of De la Rosa.

~lore so among the works where the un can be barely sensed. where light falls as a

diffused presence. or is softly intimated at dawn or twilight The ma sing of foliage. of trees and la ndforms - even when sere nely mirrored by Ihe river - came as welldefined

ru;

De la Rosa',. \1,1. even with sunlighl not palpably dancing on the foliage,

'\ mol»olo's gentle and atmosphe,ic louch emerges: these landscapes may be dominantly tonal but Amorsolo's chromatic vis ion, no matter how low-key, ulTuses each piece.

beept for Luna and Hidalgo. the Salon painting tradi ti on had ha rdly ex i ted in the Philippine •. On 21 Augu"t 1862 a Rea l O,dell ,pec ifi caJly enjoined the director of the '\ cmlf'm ia de Manil a (Roya l Academ of Man il a) to send p intings to

pain ,

'pecifipall ) tipo., del pa is." Paintings of t) ira] cenes, whal eventually became kno\\n a. genre sce nes, thus beca me the offi ial as we ll as th e traditional pur uit of Filipino painters. These artwork have the onu of being true to what wa be rea li ,t ir .

een: to

By co incide nce. this was th e decade when Courbet wa s tru ggling to

ha,~ Rt'alism aceep ted in Pari s.

Philippine Reali ' lll of the tipos del pais genre i

uffused with exot icism. p8J1icularly

oflh" kind in vogue when the idea of the philosopher Jacque He nri Rousseau's nob le smage gained ascendancy in Europe.'" The Rea l Orden to Ihe Academia de Manila hau thi~ exoti c innection. Even a popular book on etiquette, Modesto de Castro's

1 ,bulla

III

Felis,, " implied Rousseau's Romanti c notion. Thus, Urbana, a stude nt in

Manila gi , es ad, ice to he r s iste r and brother in the province . reli sa a nd Honesto. T his embodieu the classical Greek notion of the poli.s or city as the font of urbanity." But it also underscored Rousseau' Romantic ideas that happiness (Felisa), and honesty (li ollf·,to) were to be found on ly in rural communiti es.

Wfll"l1 11lf' Ameriean co lonial cenlury came around, the longi ng for the exoti c a tta ined a s(" ienlific fnn eNion. Dea n C. Worceste r, followed by Ih e government photographer C ha rl es Martin. devote d much of th e ir lim e be tween 1901 and 19 13 to th e doeumentalion of non-c'hristi an communities.'3 And sometimes, with Ihat peculiar American nair for the en trt" prene ura l circus- a bil of sensationa lis ti c docume ntation. l'ionc(l'$ofPhilippinc:An

50


Amorsolo look up the documentary-e,otic interf'sl and gave bac k to hi, subj",,1 Iheir sense of dignilY. His rendering of a Bagobo I/ead (19:32) - rp'plendanl in his eolorfu l beads and garb -looking s idell ise at U'. is bOlh Iti !(h l) human in dignill and inlimae). Amorsolo did nol painl a " peeim" n but a IiI ing 8ml feeling personality. The brusll\\ork i" painleri), a lmost pla)ful, bUI (>IPI)

Iroke is anatomically and

structurally pre" ise. The colors are brighl and 'parkhnl( bUI als" quile apparenlil" muted, and harmonized

Detail T HEYOUNG LASAK 1948 Oil on wood panel 44.3 x 57 ems.

GIft of Mercedes Zobel MeMlCklng

II

ilh greys - as in \"la''111l'/.

Aga in: The das,ical ('oncepl of the golden mean - 'le plus ullra.

nolher recurre nt imag in Iht' lipos d el pa is gp nre is Ilw litem,' of Ihe man and Ills roos ter. \ morsolo did hi, s hart' in celebnll ing Ihi , man-roosler relalionship 11,111 all il t'xolic nuaMe,. In Th e lou ng /..a.wk ( 1918). Ihe brll,lmork is as 101(101 LInd spo\,lant'Olls as his handling of e lhni !' Iwads. bil l conlrapuntal nolt' >\mor 01

II

ha l i, mo,1 ,Inking" Ih,路

prol id ed. Th,路 sla,wl' of Ih e man anu IIIf' pl"'It"

arlicu aling Ioi, po",. - all rn a\"(' in di agona l. d) nami,' counlerpoinl 10 II,.. 'con .... almosl .tali .. prolil e of Iht' roosler. b .-\l1Iorsolo suhll) under.. coring IllP all1losl dt'lolional rel3lion ~ hip between ma n a nd fOIlI? The exolie unde,10n t' is 'Iill in The loung Lll.wk bUlllw s impli .. il) and forlhrighln ... " of lhe man - ob,iously from Ihe countl) - allud es 10 lit ... ru ra l linowsto of ( ,bmw (//

Feli.m. Yet, in Th e Maiden in a Flowe, Carden. his

\I

hoi... lone (' lulI1l(es - the a ll1losplwrt'.

lhe colors - become as dulcel as Ihe <('enled air. \I hi Ie there is Ihe ,a me painler!1 bruslll\ork. lite same w<>ll-modulaled colors, th,'

II

hole image e,udes a n aura of

unrealil) - somelhing Ihealrical. Even

II

ilh enough allowance for Iht' !'onlemporar) prefe re n..... for imagt', of gore

and carnage.lh" question is:

II

h) is Ihere so lilllt' ang .. 1 in \morsolo's oelllre.?

The quesli on enlail bOlh a his torica l and a peNonal fa ee. T he Amt'fi"an ('3me 10 Ihe Phi lippines inilially as rriends, which be!'3 me e ve nlually an oc('upa lion in Ilw guise or bennolenl ass imilalion. Tlti s gave 10 man) Filipinos, a deep ,ens(" of b('lraya l. II l'iunC'Cn of rhdlrflin~ An

51

11'8

8

,entimenl 10 b" Ira'hlalt'd by Ihe artisl of Ihal


!({'IIl'rallOlI into

8

rejecti on of urba n images ,,",or ial t,d with tile intrude r a nd a n

idea liza tion of rura l e tho•. It was na li ona lis m di"gui ed as a roma ntic longing for lilt" coun try, ide. The issue was no longer 10 prove Ih e Indio or Filipino - as was the ('a,e

\I

it h Luna. Ilid a lgo e t a l - as equa l to a nyo ne in \ irtuos ity. but to assert some

,ort of independe nce.

\\ hal enwr!(t"d \l a- an art fo rm tba twa. eiass ic i"tic in altitud e but genre in theme . \, \la, tnoe \lith e1as,ica l norms. idea l types were ,ought. but ~ este rn type we re "",,,,ciou,l) r!·jec ted. An idea l bea ut ) wa, purs ued with pass ion but it "as the nati,,' 1\ I'" - Ih" da/ag(lng bl/kid or counl ry lass - whi c h became the arti s tic ob" ·"lon. h .. n tilt" u, ua ll ) si le nt Amor5010 \I ho be li ev('d tha t a pa inte r' bus in ess \la' tll painl a nd not to la lk was cons tra ined to defin e his ide I as .. ... one wilh a rollnd,'" fa'· ... IIOt of the oval type ofte n prese nt ed to l .. in news pape rs and magazine ill'htration". Th" eye, s houl d be except ionall y li ve ly. not the dreamy, leepy type .. .

1'1,.. no,,. ,Il()uld be of the blunt fo rm bUI Irm a nd s lrongly marRed . The mouth pla\" a \t'I) important part in the de te rminali n of a bea utiful fa ee. 17he ideal Filipina Ill'alll) ,11Ould ba\ (' a ,ensuou mo uth , nottht' type of pouting mouth of earl y day . .. "n. lilt' id"al I' dipina beau ly should nol necessa ril y be whit e complex ioned. nor of lilt" dar~ hro\ln ("olur of tl". t)pica l ~ l a l ayan. but of the c lear "kin or n es h co lored 1)1'"

\lhieh \Ie "ftt'n lIitnes. II he n \I e meet a bl "" hing girl. ""

\11101"'-{11o Iwnt to Ihe ("ollnt rys ide pass iona tely see ~in g hi s idea l. He painl ed many ",,"nl,) la" .. , - b) Ihe s tream. in Ihe fi e lds. or s impl y doing hou e hold c hores. "0111,·110\1. I". imprint('d eac h one as

a ll

idea l image.

l.alt· r, \11101,,,10" (Ti lics fa ull ed him fo r pa inling Ihe sa me type , almost the s ame fa"", But IIh) ,1101i 1d '\l11or"o lo e~c h a n ge hi s e te rn a l veri It', hi id ea l bea ut y, for a n,·dlllf.; illstance of photographic rea li s m'!

\l11nr"olo of cour, ... \l as no l al one in exa lling Ihe countrys ide. From pa inte r to p,wl" no\ "li,ls to ,'ssayis ts, Ihe count rys id e was s ubjec led 10 nea r-wors hip. Among \I

riters, tl". f"ra , hows a poc ke tful of lo\'e stori es wilh selling. remini cent of many

AlI1'lrsolo imagps - e t in some far. uns poil ed vill age - becoming a n obsessive motif. T ht' r('. wile r.. ri ve r peopl e who row"d th e ir boals lowa rds the ir trysting places whil e dwcki ng 1.1", lime on Ih .. ir rad io lit .. wal c h, a" in Cas iano Calalang's Soft Clay; or urba n 10,,' in sOl11e pro.pe rous hac ie nd a. as in A. C. Ner's Lile's By-Road. Th e re I'lonrct'l of J1hilippmc An

52

Detail

PALAY MAIDEN 1920 Oil on canvas 85.5 x 60.3 em Ayala Museum ColiectJon


lVere tales lVith mythical overtones as in J.

illa·Pangani"an" Th e lIilk·Mal/ oj

Makiling IVhNe love betrayed le nt co lor to a pl ace. s tamping it

II

ith a 1 ~l(e nd ary

moment. Other tole. breathed a longing for a Vighl in Ihe Ifill." as in Paz Marquez Benitez' portraya l of a frail j ewe lry sa lesma n's fane· ied night in order to grasp a quare piece of s ky."

Eve n the popular :ar:uel". the thealrical form .. oon 10 be ,uper-edt'd In tl", ,·in,·ma. re neeled th e unde rc urre nt of naliona lisl ..· nlinwnts. \1 ~Ianila', Tealm Uberlrul. Ihe offering. barel y Mncealed IVhal Ihe \meri{'an, calh·dlh,. ,,.cllliOlh or insol,'nt lanes Of lh"" play •. EH'n the lillI." lVere full of a llusions. "'•.. Juan -\I>ad', 7illlik"l"ng

Gillla (Golden Cha in) presented on 7 Jul y 1902 or ,\U ",'IIO Tolenl,no's A"h,,/mn. /lga) 011 al Bukas (Yeslerday, 10day and 'lo mol'l"OI') pedol'lllPd on II \I ay 190;{ Although the play lVas pre ' ulnabl ), aboul a n{'if' nl h"tory.lhe {'onlrmporan allusions lVere more Ihan transpare nt : Haha I..aka ng Bayan ask"d hi, fnend Samuel 101",1" him fight tire invallersonly 10 find out laler Ihal Samuel (Lnde Sam) had takpnlJl"r his kin gdom.

uch an allusion might ha , e heen ()\ .. rlook~d lIere il nlll for 1111'

appearance oft l", Philippine nag - olhen, is .. ta~ged the ins urgenls' flag - f>"1Pr~rnl(

when the a(' l or~ as~ um ecl a ct"11ain pattern on slagf'. \\ hidl \,a:-; det"l1led a bit

Insolen!.

loreover. a full,hlm'" riol e nsued "hen the \merl!'a" nag "as Irampled upon ons lage. Charged" ith edilion . Aurelio Tolentino had 10 1':0 10 jail in spill' of 1111' brilli!lnl defe nse by the yo ung la" yf'r. l anu~ 1 L. Que,on'l> It was thi nalionalis l impul se. prose ribed "hen ope nl y e\pres,ed. "hieh mad" Filipino arlis ls of tlw 20'h ce nlur)"s o peni ng decades ,eek an ideal beau I) rooled in the rural milieu. For the paisanos on tIlt' ,'ou nlry,id e. though rooled 10 1111' earth. " e re sef'lI a" unlouched by foreign <ensib ilili .. ". For 111f' De la Hosa·AnlUr,olo gene ral ions. the images of colorfull y dre,sed pea,anls. planling or hane,ting In th e fi e ld or doing house hold chore, li~ e "(Jo king or se" ing. or 1" en pIa) ing "en' the ~mb l e mati(' ce l,'bration of a li fe I) Ie not only au then li ca ll) Filipino bUI sOl11eho" . s lill free. nlike Tolenlino', plays. g<"nre paintings - with th eir lipo, del pa is inne" ti on. Iheir exolic a nd picluresqu e a ura - were eminenlly colle!'libl e. Iron i!'all), AlIlericans were among 'he premier ('oll ectors and ('omll1i~sionf> r..,.

I'mncocn of PhiJirrln(' An

53


Je"u, Balmori' paean to Amor 010 unde r co re this urban-rural di chotomy: Mie ntras Che ngoy e~ pone a s u hij a inforo a De reinn aparatosa de un car'n aval rugiente. Tu pintas la dalaga humi lde y pudorosa LJevu nda e l ca ntaro a la fue nle !

Y mientra nuestra damas. y has ta IlUeslras. dami la . e e, hibe n de ' Iumbrandono con s u c ulos de vaso Tu pinta

a la obrera lIena de srunpaguilas

Que nos sonri e dulcem enlc.> a l paso! " Detail

\ , tilt' econd Direc tor of the

P School of . ine Art. De 1a Rosa was th e dominant

painler during the IWO opening decades of Ih 20'10 Cen lury whil e the ascendancy of hi> n.. phe". Fernando look off a rt e r he pa inted his Plal1ling Rice in 1922. The la ller \I

as to be Ilw pre mie r lode ta r for three gene ra tions of a rti 15.

\010<>010', pain ti ngs we re celebraled for the ir festi vaJ of co lors danc ing in the s un. Hut his su nli ghl s parkled li ke we ll-set j ewelry prec isely because he maste red Ihe handling of " hadow â&#x20AC;˘. We ll ve rsed in the works of Ve lasq uez a nd 50rolla. he nonelheless painted s unli ght wi th unmis takab le wa rmth . a nu ance onl y someone familiar with a tropica l c lima le cou ld give. Thus. he could focu s on a las he lping prepare 1I fea.1 by s imply enveloping her with s hadows whic h were omehow, equa ll y as t1 ..a rl) definin g. Eve n hi /I1nidell ill a Flower Garden is a count e rpoint of warm and "001 colors - done in danc ing brus hwork th at gives th e pa inting it s parli cular ,i lent la ughte r.

Th .. id ea of selling off s unli ghllhrough th e man ipulation of shad ows. whi c h a re a lso a ,eri tab le feas t of cool co lors. ca n be noted in Amorsolo's app roac h to drawing. Among hi s ("ontempora ries who be lie ved in Ingres' di ctum th at line i the probity of a rt . Amor 010 tood a part a a n a rtis t who saw Ihing not in lerms of contours but of tonal patte rns. Conseque nt ly. hi drafts mans hip wa unfavo rab ly compared wilh his broth er. Pablo - yet , no one escaped Ferna ndo's inOue nce.

Pioncc:" of Philipp inc: An

54

MAIDEN tNA FLOWER GARDEN 1948

a,l on canvas 74.5 x 60 ems. Ayala Museum Collection


Fernando Amorsolo' pre-eminence did nol come as a mYlhical bolt of genius hitling an artist in a garret. It was the oulcome of a lifelime pa s ion and hard work. Painting w"" Amorsolo' a biding love. As a young boy of five. he drew endlessly until he exhau ted his father's s uppl y of paper and pem'il s; and if Ih"re was no wi 5('hoollo go to for the Academia de Pintura,Escultu ra y Grahado (Academy of Painting. Seultpure and Engraving) of Manila rlosed during the Philippine Re,olution. he would help e tabli sh one. There were no plans 10 open an arl chool allhe onset ofth .. cenlu'!'. '\1 16. he joined a few advocales going from house 10 house zealou I) collecting signatur." for a pelition to open an arl school. Conseque ntly. when Ihe School of Fine Arts of LP was opened in 1909, Amorsolo was among ils firsl Ludents and among the firsL halch of s ix ,~ho gradualed on 2 April 1914. 18 Tlu'o u ~h the paLrona&e of E nriqu e Zobel. he left for

the

pain in 1919 and sludied al

cuela uperior de Pin ura, Escultura ) Grabado de San Fernanuo in Madrid.

As p '1 of Ibe di cipline. IJe copied Ihe pa inLings of Goya and Velasquez al II,,路 Prado Mu eum . AI the lime. he al

0

aw Ihe modern works ofSoroUa. Zuloaga. and

Zorn which even tua lly exerted a s trong influence on him. Allhough keenl y aware of the reali li e note underlying Ihe \lorks of the Hrlisls he ad mired such 11 Manei. Courbel. and includi ng tho e of hi, uncle and men lor De la Rosa .the young Amorsolo embarked on a direclion whid, differed [rom their reali lie creed: to see Ih e ubj ec t a i. 10 e chew coloris li c exuberance. and somel im es La minul e ly defin e every image. Ins tead. Amorsolo ean'ied a love affair ,viLh the Philippine sunlight. Lighl danced in hi s pa intings. leaping from grou nd 10 figures - more '0 when hi subjec ls \l ere under the shade of a mango tree where Ihe lighl filieredthrough lea,es. or if the s ubjeci happened 10 be in the open pace - a contra lu:. or back-lighted e[[eel was chosen . Moreover. Ih e pivotal ap proac h. his rad ical deparlure - was in the handling offigure : instead of focus ing indi vidua lly on each figure. he treated them a masse or palle1l1s interlocking wilh the backgro und . Figures were broadly indicated. a lechnique a ll us ive of So rolla and Zorn - the 111'0 arli Is cons idered La be modernis l a t the time.

l'ionccl1l of P}'ilippinc An

55


Amor.o lo felt ass ured by the color exube ra nce of the Impress ionists but he imposed on their fragme nt ed image

Velasquez's vi ion of th e mome nt

harmonizing u e of grey. More than anything e lse, with the ideal beau ty he was

0

a nd hi s own

morsolo imprinted hi fi gure

passionate ly seeki ng. He s ucceeded in ma king the

genre mark the go lden mean point between tradition a nd the avant-garde te nde nc ies of hi tim!', but very few reall y understood what he set out to do. Even hi c ircl e of fri!'nds, the a rtis t who set ou t painting in the countryside with him , barely understood although eve ntually, they followed hi s lead. Ditto wi th gene ra tions of tudent a ft er.

loreover, from Courbe t to Picasso's genera ti on, the whole mode of a rt-ma king radically shifted . definitely away from the seen image. A turbul en t world punctuated by the guns of August which ushered the firs t World War undermined a lmos t every artist's faith in institutions and the seen world . (\rti ts were co ns trai ned to explore tht' archae logy of the self - from Pica 0'" Les Demoiselles d' Aviglloll to Jam es Joyce' UIJsses; from the other-world ly co lo' of th Blu Riders to the immac ulate purity of Mondrian.

The Philippines remained truly is lands, untou hed by the upheava ls in Europe during the fin,t til 0 decade of the 20'" century. Amor 010 continu ed the pursuit of hi, nationalist-inON路 ted, idylli c. pastora l gen res. When Amorsolo painted his seminal gt'nre Planting Rice in 1922, the Ru s ian Revolution wa a lready fi ve years pa l. Initially s<'"en as the triumph of the masses, pres umably progressive you ng writers in Manila e,'entua ll y felt bound to espou e a soc ia li st creed , demanding to see in Arnor5010 et al.. the celebration of toi l and the exultati on of the swea t-sta ined masse .

But. that was not Arnorso lo's vision.

\morsolo pursued his own ce lebra ti on of toil in the countrys ide . Th e popular ditty at the timp asserted that "Planti ng Rice is no fun " but Amorsolo imbu ed th e scene lIith a fpstive air. He imparted into every country ac tivity an a ura ofjoie de vi-vee a(路companied by his dancing s un. And wri t ~ rs . who can not et'" beyond th ei r vis ions brayed a t his heel On the fir t to the thirtee nth of November 1925, Amorsolo held his solo show at the Grand Central Art Gall erie on 65 East 56'" Street. New York. Forty of his works went

56


on view and wilhin a few days 24 works were snatched by coll ecton;. No less than three thousand individual viewed his ex hibition and left favorably impres ed." Amorsolo however. hared the Conlinental view of America as ,omewh&t of a cultural backwater. Writing to Guillermo Tolentino about his visit 10 the Golden Gate Mu"eum. he noted: "VeT) poor ang Museo. Oiro pinakilala ng mga Amencana ang kanilang ignorance in art tasle. Sa scuLplure room wala akong napili kundi daLmm 0 rarLa. .. haLm lahar na a) amanerada tila mga yari ng isangJabrica de objeto., de marmol 0 escu/tura para restauranr

0

pang adorno sa mga SaLon de CLub ... Sa pintura ganoon dill.'路-"

With a financially succe sful exhibition but a less Ihan awed \iew of ~merica. Amorsolo wa not keen to note any critical re\iews of his work. He wa' contenl to avor the many requests - after the exhibition closed - to re-a.-emble the worb a d allow various groups to view the s ho\\. ucee'" gave him th courage to sti ck to his \' ision. Detail MARKET

Amor-olo continued hi " forays to the coun tryside and went to the extent of buying

1927

his own wooden boat so he could row to the surrounding towns. He painted th~

0,1

on wood panel

42 x 60

cm~

Ayala Museum CoUeruon

riverine shore

till untouched by the sun," when the foliage on the bamboo trees

were a leep and ometimes languidly dipping into the water. And. as the sun rose. he would walk into town, to the marke l, to capture the waking activit)'. The riongge . or open market was a favorite. In 1927, he did the open market in Baguio \\ith the cool morning sun barely up. thus casting long shadows on the ground. What stands out in Markel is the way he composed li ght: as alternating mas,es of dark and luminosity. The compositional sc heme was: dark - mid-light - light dark - mid-dark -light - mid-light. The dark foreground present a mas of figure defined almost in silhouette yet \\'ith the profile of an Igorot easily identifiable. This is set-off b) a light ground that sets off a smaller. brighter mass. actually the focal point - accented by a tanding Igorot woman in orange-striped tapis: ano ther dark ma sets Ihis off which leads to a distant s lice of light against a mas - of midlight. It is a cheme almost musical. And. it s ings. Another tiangge scene, done after W\V II , with a lowland setting. echoes the compo.itional approach seen in hi Markel. Here. the figures are closer, and within the alternation of dark and light

ma es, Amorsolo introduced circular light movement - which defined the figures and gave to each a parkling presence. Pion芦n of Philippine Art

57


E, en \morsolo' urban landscape. often do ne within the sortly mod ulated morning light or late s unset - vide: ForI Sanliago (1936) and Inl ramllros (1941) wi th the un rading in the ky - somehow rollowed a tonal al terna tion or dark and light masse; or warnl and coo l chromatic chords. He orten introduces within u h an alternat ion, eitlwr diagonal or circular movements through hi ghli ghts ni c ke ring rrom one image to another.

Fort Sanliago and Int ramllros and his se ri e or riverine landscapes are mostl y done In minor key. These may not exude the spark ling pre e nce or hi s Planling Rice ,erie. and other open field genres execu ted in major key but they are no less masterful. Amorsolo can

II

his per a vis ua l so ng

Or

bel t out one s trongly with eq ual

control.

Historieal painting. presumably the highe t poi nt in a painter's ca reer within th e Clas,icaltradition,22 did not e cape Amor olo's interest. But Amorso lo will gi" e to l'aeh e'en t selected the intimacy and inro ma lit) or a genre see le. The heroic po,turing and rhetorical ge tures often see n

In

tradi tional hi storica l paintings were

alien to him. \morsol o gave a sense or naturalness to what ought to be, by trad ition, rhetoric'ally stated figures. T hus, hi s The First Bapt,ism s hows inrorma lity not on ly in the arrangeme nt or the figures but a lso in the a ttitud e and ges ture or each person d .. pic-ted. The scene appears a lmost like a photographic s naps hot a llus ive or Degas - yet

II

ith the unmistakable im pact or a pain ting.

\s is the case lIith hi s genre works . th e brushwork in his his tori ca l seri es nic ke rs .. rrort lessly pV<'f)," here. sc intillating wi th gem- lik e sparkl e because or the contra IlIz. back-lighting efrec t or a un barely ove r the horizon. Thi same control over .harlows, and light permeates the oth er hi stori ca l works in Ih e seri es. And selec ting thos~ moments in Philippine pre-h is tory a

s ubj ects gave eac h piece th at note or

l{omanti('ism em bodi ed in Rousseau's ideal or a nobl e savage.

Howe, er, nothing gave him more pleasure tha n the genre pi eces whose prime wellspring was hi s rrequent rorays in th e countrysid e. He rondl y recall ed s uch roray during his s unset years, pointing out wi th mirth the n Ih at th e countrys ide s imply mean t Quezon City or an Franc isco de l Mont e but now a ll c ities or concrete, gla s, and stee l were ('ompeting wi th Manila . Orten, hi rellow a rti sts and rri ends, Miranda, Castaneda, Torri bio Herre ra, et a l. wou ld pa int with him , go ing as ra r as Teresa and riCln~(B"

orPhiJlppinc An

58

Detail THE FIRST BAPTISM 1955 to 1960

Oit on canvas 88 x 131 ems. Gift of The Insular Life Assurance Co.. Ltd.


Montalban- real aciventllfes at the time - to be in touch with scenes almost Edenic in I'a toral purity.

It was just s uch selling whi c·h allowed himlhe realization of hi s ideal dalagang bukid - the country la s seen a lone or in group - doing c·hore . washing 01' drying dothes or s imply bathing or ju t cavorting like ome tropiC'al nymph in gaily-(·olored. sensu nus

sarong. ometimes Amorsolo injected a note of symbolism. painting the dalagallg bukid with an earthenware jar - the common symbol of \ irginilY at the lim ... Without fail , he would return to th e a lmost ritualistic' cycle of planling. han·psting. or winnowing ri ce. and at times even cooki ng. Every painling was for him an

opportunity to ing an ode to unlighl . bUI abov,. all. 10 ce leb ral e th e country folk.

AncL if the poinl was path,

10

ceJe rate, Amorsolo did nol ee the need to inject a not .. of

into hi paintings. an(l- much less - bathos.

Except for th e pain and orrow he witnessed during the Japanese oc·cupation in

WWII. especia ll y during the o-called li beration of Manila -lhe elements of blood and gore, of de truction and ruin. were alien to Amorsolo' art. The e were simply aga in this ens ibilities. While il was true thaI he painted Manila in ruins, ometimes s howing well-known si tes a nd buildings burning or the ir bu ll el- carred. kelelal remains these were image after the facl. more lik e some archaeological s ite perhap s impl y a bit

100

recent.

Amorsolo's vis ion of himself as an artist who posi tioned him elf at midpoint between the cl ass ica l tradition and what he cons idered during his lime as modernist ought to be taken with more eriou critical conCern. Among Ihe cardinal creeds in Classical arl was the idea of decorum which enta iled creating a ense of balance. harmon). and unity, and above all. no jruTing element in both form and expression. Amorsolo professed willingness to learn from th e moderni s t arti sts like

orolla and Zorn

anything Ihal was within what he con idered good ta Ie enta iled precisely - decorum. This meant minimal presentation of grief and gore which ca n inj ect that jan-ing element in a painting. I.t is more than clea r whal Amorsolo knew himself only too well: the s iance he adopted lilted hi s teml era ment perfectly. Hi genlleness and grace lowards hi s s tudents and

S9


friend. were a lmos t legendary. For in lance, he corrected his lud enl ' work s wiLh utmosl courie y and gentle nes . He wou ld ap proac h a bumbling lude nt and ay: .. ' a lillgin ko po, lila gallilo

'Jail. ''2'

In co nlras l, hi

brother Pab lo, whose

draftsmanshi p was cons ide red Lronger. we nt through his c Ia ses wi th a pair ofboxing glo,e, dangling on his should er. Tough s tudenls easil y found Ihem elves cha lle nged inlo a n inslanl boxing bout oUlside Ih e c lassroo m. Anothe r equally estee med fa culty member, Profe or Irineo 1ira nda u ed bOlh humor a nd arcasm in hi s c rilique , thu : "BeauLifu l! Whal' Iha t on yo ur s ky, Itoy - fried egg?21

Only Fernando Amorsolo gave hi s lude nls the courtesy -

ir!25

Amoroolo's ae,lhelic s lance was Ihu in total harmon y wilh hi s le mpe rame nt. Even Ihe a.cendancy of Ihe mod ernis t, e\pre ,ioni ,,! viewpoint so aptl y underscored by Zola', dictum Ihal arl "as rea lity seen th 'ough Ihe lempe ra me nl of an arti s l;" more than filled hi s pose. The core di tinc li on li es in AmoISolo's pursuil of a n idea l image - espec iall y in Ihe dalagang bukid whose appea rance all ined more a nd more. Ih .. look of same ness as Amorso lo s ucceeded in imposin g his id eal on he r.

Thi, j" pr<,("i,e1y Ihe ('ore of misu nde rstanding Amorso lo's art vis-a-vis conte mporary sf',,,ibilit). The idea of ex press ion, forlified by th e fa s hi onab le ascendancy of Freudian Ihinking, enc-ouraged th e id ea of indi vidua lis m - of paintings which are pretiurnably Ih .. uniqu e "pa rks of genius. Ihu , works lik e no olher.

fhe question is : s hould an arli s l li ke Amo rsolo be tru e 10 hi s worldvi ew a nd I,"mperame nt"! Or mus t an a rtis t hop onlO every arli s tic wave Ihat promi ses 10 mak e

him au coura nt '! '\morsolo s layed Ihe course. Class ic is m, after all , even as a viewpo int, looking a t I("nre pain ting, "a rri ed th e impli c il solace of purs uing e te rnal veriti es.

Co nl e mporary arl however, as Sta nl ey Cavell nOl ed!' has become more a nd more phi lm'o phi c-a l. II i. no longe r urpri s ing to see length y e pli ca tion aboul artwork which a re. a ppa rently. mort' tha n just slark . Consequ enll y, Ihe question of inte nl and s in eeril y - as an aeslh e ti c qu e li on'路 - becomes once more, a re le va nl point. AI

0,

Ihe qu e ti on of wlwlh .. r inle nl a nd s ince ril Y ca n be read - in Ihe vi ua l arls.

60


II is. forlunalely, fairly ea y 10 see - in Amorsolo', hod) of "orb - hi s ("onsi,k ncy in saying exacl ly "hal he meanl. lIis vi.uallanguage is v~ry rcadal,I,..'" \\ hal is 1110re (,ompli('ated i!:i coping with the man) \ (> r:.; i o n~ done from ~omp. of his mon"

popular images. Amorsolo ke pI a pholographic fil e of his painlings. ColI""I"r, ("am~ 10 his slu,bo. "eleclecl "hal Ihe) " a nII'd a ncl \mor,olo produced a similar work. IntrnduC"lIIg In lllf' pro('f'~s. \arialions on th e "iume th (,l11e. Thi ...

i.., iI

e.g .. Fe rnanclo Sor\ Inlroduclion and larilliiolls all

U

("am ilion oC'('Urrt'IH'p 111 mU ~ I('.

11,,,1/1(' 1'.\ \lozar{. 01'.9. Bullll

painting. Iht" romal1ti('le\pre ~s ionisl insistent'/:' on Ilw

ICIt:'H

of uniqut'nt"s~ linl!!·r:-. .

This nolion 1.1fte d cha%<ingonly when Ihe focus shifled frolll the 8rt"llo IItt- «ue,IIIII1 of l anguag~. especia ll y in ('o ne'eplual a nd seri a l art. In \ ("Iually. il mighl Iw Ill"' ~ th

n ubeful in 'his ('onlex l, 10 see \m orso lo variations on ea('h IlwIne as purl of.1

seri s and not e ill ea(' h pi~('

Perhap~ many

the nual1 ('es he inlroduc'ed.

\\-ill ('on lend Ihal the~e \"arialion~ \\ert> the rp..,uil of economIC' prt' ..... un··

rais ing 18 children lIa. cerlainly nol easy. bUI \morsol,,'s productIon I~chnlqut· d,,1 hm e precedenl in Iradilional prac li ce. i.p .. in Iht' .Iudin of Ihe d'plomal-artlSl. Pdf'r Paul Rube n, or e, erl Ihal of Joshua Rey nolds . .\nd more recenll). \nd) \\arhol larled calling his studi o Ih e Fac lory.

Ilhough poles aparl in oUllook. Amorsolo aC lually predalpd \\ a rh ol in Ihe practic'" of whal is known as comlllercial art s uc h as ad lerli ,ing illuslralions. elc. Amorsolo aClually mad e Ihese rei aII'd dise iplines parI of 111(' ea rl) L P I,'ine Arts curricu lu m. Anotlwr similar Iheore lical s hift from abroadlla. William ~lorr'iS", ill'ls and ("raft, moveme nl in lurn-of-Ih e cenlury England or th e Bauhaus in German). 1919-1928 which p,enluall), influe nced , a le and Cranbroo~ ,\ cadem) in Ihe Lniled Slale,. ueh \mor'olo influenc'es in L p's c urriculum shift ma) nol ca u,e an) ripple, abroad bUllhese et the lone for arl ehoob in Ihe Philippine, a l Ih e e nd of \\ " . II.

morsolo however. kept Ihe 1110 disc iplines re laled bUI "parI. " '8rho l effaced Ihe dislinclion. Amor.olo lived al a lime "he re boundarie, " ere . Iill dearl) clrm,n: ~ arhol belonged 10 a general ion where boundarie, " e re in(·re.singl) gelling blurred .

61


Painting

"a;,. ho\\ e ' e r.

morsolo' sole pas ion. He a lway' went back to painting.

In 19~ I. he ca lmly painted a till life a hi. s urroundings a t Grace Pa rk , Ka looka n Cit). a suburb of Manila , tre mbled from heavy bombardme nt.

lie pain ted e\'eryday. And he painted portraits as well -

I

ery muc h a hi grandfather,

Simon Flore' de la Ro.a did. But with a world of diffe rence, Amorsolo rega rded portraiture not ju.t as a mea ure of s kill but a lso a. an ac tivity o mehow re la ted to hi, cuadra., de pacolil/as primarily be('ause portra iture a llowed the arti t the lea t room for self-expression. Yet. paradoxicall y, it i onl) in

morsolo', portraits where

the really singu lar piece of a rtwork may be "een. Genr.. the me will more tha n Ii""') hal e some "ort of ,ariation but. there are rare, if all . portrait variation unl e on .. look at the many va ria ti on. he pa int ed of the portrait of offic ia ls.

There "ere instances. however. when I\mol'>olo painted porlrai ts wh ich were a lso toul'i1f'd b) that sene for the picture que called for by a tipo del pai , as in hi s

Bagob" (1932) and even. in hi Old Tenielll (19'18), where the bru hwork i a rawht'\\ n as a paisano. Th .. brushwork in these p rtrait. is a" free a nd sponta neous as in his g.. nre pi .."" . A watercolor of an old man, EI Bibliofilo (The Bookworm) pre ents th,路 ,anw se'he of ease in the ha ndling of form: brush marks as explicit as the c hi sel mark- on a piN'" of scu lpture, And eac h work had what Amorsolo' general ion ca ll ed "haracler" - a ('I',1ain trait that gives the mode l a "ense of uniq uene s,

\morsolo bee'ame tilt' fo re mosl portra it paint er of hi

genera li on,

Governme nt

"fficials - from the president to th e lowest depa rlme nt head-a pired to be pain led b) him, UitLo the ,'arious executives in private compa ni es, In some ins ta nces, a sort of paint~r-patron relationship dev .. lopecl as in Ih e case of Amor

0 10

a nd Ih e

lob .. 1 ramily, The portraits done officia ll y e nt ai led more fini s hing - with th e brushwork becoming barely d iscernibl e. a ncllhe s lance or pose rather forma l. \el. a clo,,,, look a t pach porlrait wi ll s till revea l th e bru h s lruc ture done wilh Ih e

"a"> of a true vi rtu o

0,

Il is chromati c co lors are rarely dull , they s ing even in the

.hadows, bUI none goes off-k ey, Each port rail beca me s uffused with whal became kno\\n a' Amorsolo light and co lor, Moreov .. r, what gave the a rtis t so mu ch deli ght was rioin g Ihe fin e a ncl Iran pa re nl draperie. on hi s lad y mod e l - Ihe go sa mer s hawl in the POr/rait of Allicia Angela Rico de McMickillg, or the vei l a nd fan in Ih e

Detail EL BIBUOFILO

1919 Watercolor on paper

37 x 26 em Gift

Portmil of Trill idlld Zobel de Ayala, Pion~ts

orf>hilippine An

62

of Mercedes Zobel

MeMlekJng


The cele bra tio n of fe minine beaut y is a we ll -e nt re nched Clas ical viewpoint. Although pa inting the nude, more

0

the female nude, i, ofLen loaded wi lh erotic

unde rtone, for the gene ra ti on of Amorsolo. no artis t is wort h any respectunles, he ca n do a decent nud e. Pre uma bl y, it is in the nude where all the form-relationship, in na ture a re summari zed . The nude. for Amo"olo\ generation - more '0 the female nude - is a wa lking di ct ionary of forms.

Amorsolo -

0

highl y sensitive to both amor and fonn - Look to dOll1g the nude wIth

pa s ion and delight. From his tude nL day" in pain, he painted with zestth. model. Laurita in almost every pose. includ ing the venu. -likf'. Reclining \ude (1919) aquare lle.

111

ited outdooflj a nd re nde red in high-key, the work nonetheless presenb a

forln-definiti on at once solid a nd some how efferve,cent. lI e painted the nude as often

as hf' could afte n va rds, sometimes placing them wit hin .. veryday situation, like batillng Detail THE OLDTEN IENTE

or impl y C8vOl1ing in a . trea m, but always , tres 'ing form as in '\ lIde (19~7) where the

1948

idea f ten ' ion a nd rest i" u Lltly played up.

011 on canvas

49 x 68 ems. Gift of Mer<edes Zobel MeMlCking

The re \Va also a subtle c ha nge between the earl) Laurita nudf's and the senll-nude dalaga ng bukid bathi ng or s impl y lounging around by Ihe "tream. From the ideal proportion of eight head. Amorsolo shifted to something closer to an Asian proportllln of s ix to se\'en a nd a ha lf head ,clo er to academic proportion or realit}. There was no sudde n s h ifting. In. tead , the c ha nge occ u rred through the ~ears. nuctuating fro m one pai nting to a nothe r.

Wha t A mor

0 10

aw in the cou ntry ide - wha t he considered his infinite ourcebook

of image - light defining e \'eryth ing unde r d iffere nt conditions: country folk doing wha tever with s im p lic il y a nd honesty - gave that assuring sen.e of verit} to hi" paintings. Like the a nc ient mas ters, a nd in spite of what his contemporarie. felt a bout his dra \l ing. Amorsolo made ma ny s tudie., ma ny ke tc he of everything he saw." He defin ed Ihese as well. ofte n in te ml of light a nd dark masses. but was always, lrue to wha t he a w. Eve ntua lly, he impo.ed on the e images too that elusive longing for the ideal. It gave to hi pa in lings, the touc h of an othe rworldl y look - a look based on someth ing \ el)' real bu t some how aI

0

touc hed by unreality. The e we re country folk toiling, from

morn till n ight, bUI never tired: pa isano in lushy. -odden fi elds but some how ne \ er oi led. These country folk we re somehow e ndowed with Ihe Elysia n a ura of the ideal. Pionn:rs or Phllipplnc An

63


\nd. ('onnoi,,<,u,," of perfectmirron;

\I

e re pUZlI"d.

fill're i, an a"uring sense of continuity bel ween Ih e 2004 cin ematic lal e of 711e

Pu,s;o" of Ihe Chr;,\1 and the Broadw8) hit of the 1970, Jesus Christ Super, tar. Tht're i" al,o a

\I

arid of differenc'e bel ween Ih" Iwo. I-I o\\'e\'e r, whal is s ignifi canl i'

lilt' ('ncl-,c,' n" in Ihe off-Broadway \'ersion of 'uperstar, all the aelors and aClresses shed their !(armenb and started hanging these on Ihe cro s . Perhaps. if \Ie II) to read'" \lhal Ihe arti~t i" aying inslead of hanging our hope and drt'um'o on the artwork, our horizon

\I

ill certain l) be more broad and definilely

ri"lwr. Detail

\mor,olo a"b for nolhing more.

BAGOBO

1932 Oil on canvas 27.5 x 22 em Ayala Museum ColiectJon

I'iont tn or Philippine An

64


Endnote. I The ...ecreillr) of lilt' hool of Fine I\rt.'), Mr. Cundido AI('u nlllm and Iht' fue'lIlt}. nOlably profes..wr.-. Oominudor Ca;"taikdn, IriIH.'11 Mimndu. Dr. Toribio Herrero, and Ambrot'jo M orulc~ - nil generou .. ly shared tile' oml hislol") of their gen~mlioll. While il i ~ not l)(l..,... ihl e to credit them indi, jduall} wilh spec ific' data. tllt::ir \-ariou,> \ ersion.. allo"e(llndi~pcnsub l c cro!:-:-.·cllI•.,<,king. ~ BatikullllS or Jl"~u ... Balmon: l,da lIanill!lla: FemiwJo ,Inwnolo La Vanguardi a. 21 Ma) 1928. ,\1-.0 reprinted III AI(<<'<tu H. Boce ... tmnr:mlo t'1 anilu: Filipinu:-- Foundation. Illl', 1975). p. 83. The following i .. a Irnn .. lulion I)f Ill(' origina] \er..c: Within your gloriou:-. bruc;h. the .. un create" the f'Olo.vlnU!oIllUl' h 0" the iri ... wilh )uur vi .. ion J .. hnred.Auu are 1101 one ...ole lo\c. )all hUH' Lhou!'illnd;. of l o\e~Adoring )uur art! ) Dominador Ca..·.. laileda. Irt in tltt Philippint!s. op.(·il. Uni\ersity oflhe Philippine.... \b.oomll) Imnsmitled IIml relaled spt!('ifi("nll) ill Ihe ('olllc,1 of portmilure. • C~lUi\eda. op.cit. Tlli;. idea of laking Ihe "hule figure at a ~ance was not limil ed a ... nn approach to painting. ThOlfla~ Hming. Ffl/jf:> Impreu;o1u. mal e~ il a \alid conlloi;....c uf'ohip aide. s Il eillrich WoLffiin. Pn'nil'iples of Irt lIiston. trU lh. b) M.D. Hollmger. '\C" \ orl TIle dicholomie,., de:.cril>ed - although nol appropriale 10 cOlllempo-rar) art - are ... lilllTloTe thull u"eful in Ihe stud} of artworks or period;., like lhat of Ihe Fabia n de la Ro-.a-Amor.:.olo generulion . Olher priul'iplt"!- nOled b) \lolmin rna) aClually al!'o() be apl bUI ;.,hould be rnore carefull) nOled as thcholOlUlt"!'I in Philippim' a rt ure nol too c1ealcu!. 6 TIH~ pal1iculur land"cal)t' "a", in the lot from Ihe e:,tale of Dominador Ca.!ila~c..'(la tl~hibited al Rustnn'., Caleric Hleue in 1972. Amon;olo's ... ignature \, ~ hidd~n hl an old fmme. The siluation wus til(." re .. ult of Caslai'ieda\ LL"!'Iocia lioll wilh \lIIon-.olo tb n manchador-Ihe al1isl "ho Q::;!.i"ki in painting the fil'3l impre---~ ion. Unful1unnlC l) . Iht' ('oll el'lor wa:. unrecorded . -; Decorum or what \mor..olo lenm::J good ta~ l c 'Hb \ el') much pal1 of Ihe du.. sic·uJ Imming or on al1i",1 \\11 n art 8(·odcmie... " ere dominant instilution;,. 5et:: Ham;,.oll and Cynlhia White. Cflnw,'~j and Careers. p. 6r. Nc\'! York. london 196.1; ~(" al"'l) - E.C. Holt. ed. Docum~nltrn lIultH) rif 1rt. \',d . 2, Nc .... York . 19,18 pp. 16tl-176; \1 ..0: R. Goldwater and M. Trc\<c.... cd«. 1rli.J1 on lrt. New 19 is p. ISSff. I The goldt"n mcan rt!ctunglC' is aclulllI) a mca,... ure bel\\ een RI.H'II I. ba!.icall) U !.(Iuare and ROllI 2. Ihu ... ;.omel hing in 1>PIl'!ct'1I Iwo me8;.,un,'!'. or Iwo po!'lilioll!., thu.!> a phytii cul sialement of modem lion . See: Michel Jac·obs. Thc lrt OfCOtrllJQsitilHl, Rum,.,on. .J.• 1956 p.44: Also: Ro!wrt Ci llam ScOIl, Desigll FUlUltlfllcnltd.!, ('ll Yt)rk, Tornillo, London. 19.1 I. p.59f. The golden mean i1; .. hown 10 be 1111' underlying prol1Ortion in Ihe ParthenQIl m~ "ell os in nature, in U!'tea shell u,,,, well us in a Ilm ~a "pl (;. elc., thmugh

,,,,-1:.

OJatht' mulu'ul n. . . "t,lIl1:' gconll'lrit' nIl'UlI". Ti,HH 1/t.IIHIU (lr regiolldIIH>t.'S mIJn· ......l'd u longing for c'xolic IIl1d pl l'lUT\'''qu c Ill1n~... and pC(lpl es fronl unknown plllt'es. Thf'o.,c l'alll£! 1010 \'ogue \~ilh Ih~ u.."t·e ndunl·) of It nu .....t·BU·.. idl'u:'I. It inspin'" :iudl HUlIIanlil' longings lil e B)'mn\ ~tlI n g 10 wur in Grcc·t·e; Ddu{·mix.·.. Irip III \1uTO('t·u; or I'\t'n th " L ..... Con .. lilulHllI " hidl ~uam nl t'l"d lifto.libt.'I1). uml tlw Iluf'ouil of Imp pi lit·...... ttl c\cr)'onc ... pm\idt"tl.luld). lOU an.' a l'ili7l·n. $t.t': \rill and Ounllll. RQ/J.JSf'uU Will Rt'mlulwfl. \"01. \ - Til,. .d(lq uf Cjl·jJ~(lIWll. ' .,\, \ ark. 1567; foro mun' inlunull' look....t'l': J. UIO"'I(lph~r Ii t-rnid. lIIsln·,\.f In un 19r ... Collllt·c: lit·u l. L .. \ . 1C)75. In Ih.· PhilippilU'" till' dc'nuilld fur lillO-! dd \lui ... 1"-"(',Ulll' .1 J"lluwd for Ih ~ l)il·hlre .. '1U1· l'.OUII II,),:Olfi(· and Iht' people',., lifc<; lylt". "hic·h ht'fllllll' kno"" II .. - senre. II! lind. " Mode... lo c1... em;lm. rim ,,,, (II Ft'/uu \HI .. n pupular ~k of t!liqllctl~ ill \Idntl o hdor~ the \ meric.11l ()(·cupulion . \\ rillt'n in I b ~· fonn of (l e;otTt' .. ptmdenn· be l"t~' n ttw lIU1l1l -dt·fi," ng Llrhu"u ", len livc·{1 in II", l'il). Ihe hllppy ~ 1· " qf1. nnd hl'"r hOIlI".. 1 hryllll'r. I-I on~s l o~ in 1III'I'Im mIT - IhQ Rf)u$"e1u nolinn \\ U,... more hnn (·ollll·it1t'nl .d. I~ Hi "piIni IltIlion 1~J.. •• cI al lit pol;" ur ril~ fL'" 1111' fonl of urbmlllY - llw ... Ih,' mnqlllf,ud,Jr" luokeflul Ihe \ lIet·,. ~f \I ~-.il 0 or lilt' Inca.. . of Penl u.... ..;illlpl) pagun l>t't'uIN' lhp\ built r itie ... \\ hill' Ihl" Filipino ... " t're t·on ... i d ~I"t'{1 barb.lriull.... c: J.H . ~Jli ol. ImfH' ntJ I SpfJ/1i J.l69· 17ICl. 1·. nglilod.I96:1 Il Dt'u n t. \lon:''''ll''r. '-'lllt' \on-Cbn;.liull Pc..·Hpll·... IIf Iht· Plcilippin ~ 1",luml,.,," IIII' \ "timw/ (A>(lgTUphir 'h1g(t:'II~. \ 01. \\1\ Nu. II WLL.. hinghm. '\jo\~tIll:H'r 191 3 1). 11 58 fT. "ilh "hnlog-mph" b) Ihe author lind Churl"... \l art lll \1 I) ro fc.,.son.; lrilleo \1l rtUida nnd I)mni undnr CIL'llui'iedu u,"(·d III illu!.lnllt: lind f'"~llCJ Un" in \\001 ... and .. kt·tdl c ... tlcc Anlo ...... ulo idcnll)lk.·.G~IIl'ncliun!'l of Fine \rts " Iud c nl~ klww Ih ~ 1)1)('. 111 a run' inlt·nTit·\, . \1Il0f'ooitJ .ll1ic·ulalt·cJ hi '" illt'lIl in "onl,., - quott'(l ill Alfredo n O(·l· .... lmonolo (\l uni la: FilipilllL'" ~ o undnti () n . 1915). p. 90. 1.\ Rod. Paru... -Pcrez. ·";;unltghl lI ocl 8m"n Madonnu,. ... 1rtf of hili . lIong k.(JI1~. Jul)- \u gu~1 198.3. p. 36fT. Th ~ uU lhuf'o IIf Ihe short ... I'lrit" t'ilcd "ere notc..-cl nOI 11I·'·l· ......8n l) fur their Ihci r e,cc llt·m·t· bill <; ill1pl) lik,· \rnll ......ulo. fur heing wi dcl ~ at't'c pl ob l ~ a.... hi ~11 sc·huol (I,'atling - 11m". populur. St-e al!';o: Puru ... -Pt·n'l, lI(",(",.~tl/{f. {\Ianiln: PLe Publit'alion:-, 19801. 11.:i Iff. II, I'aru~- Pcrcl.. op. I.· it. H B!llikullllglJt';.,JI '" Bollllllri . "p.,·i l. lllC follo\\i ng i .. u InJJI!. lalion .,f Ihe uriginul \C'f'oe: \~ Ililt' Chc lIgo) {·xplains lu hi ... doughIer Sinforo~uJOf an (hieulill iou;., tluct!n frolll tI hoislt..'nlll <; ('unci\uIfYlJlI Iwinlliw IIUJidt.·n. humbl e tlllIl pur~/CtUT) ing IIII' Jug IlIlhe springU.\nd whil,' our IlIdil·.... a nd t'wn nur }mlllg ladit·.JE,,"ibillh,·IIl .. (·hl· ... dunllng II:' "illl Ihe ir gla ...... figuft·.JYou II..JIIII lilt' " orl er. filII or '1

\n.·,

65

"'UlllpugUltll.J\\ hu "'''1''4 '11~ ;.,milt· .. ,,1 us u..... sht.·l>a"..,~,,! III COlll lido \l eU nlllTD, oral hi..,lu" - Intlhnlllh.c1 10 1111' "hil,· II . . 1111./1·111 al IllI' L I' SdlOul of I· illt' \rtl'<. (:undido \ !c-..JlllunJ \\.I~ lilt' ~I'I'TI'III" (If 1111' ~·llnul hc'fnrl' \\ \\ II llnlel hi ... n'lin'lIlt'lIl .In.·r Ihl' \\ar. Jl l' lC'fll IIii' •..d1lK,l rl·t·unl~ "illt I.c·,,1 and lIa""iIJn. I" \l c'IU,hlm. \1!'Iu nIN·j· .... /uf.,.,' ~I RIKI. Pum . . · I'l'ft·l. 1iJ/I'nllnll ( \I ..JIIlI.I: /IIII1'.[) l'uhlic·dll.III .... I ()j'21. ~ •.•. : I,-Ih'r or \111" .....1110, h. 1'01.'1\111111 . !lie rlllllH\ln~ "" .1101II .. luIIIIII nr th,· c·.I!;{"I·rpl r""111 \lIIn .....,.III·... ldl.·r. 111'· {,I,ldl'lI (,11' \lu""uRl \\ll'" \1'1) IN."r. II rn,lIIirt' .. lt"IJ \nU'nl an i~nllrullf·'· IIf lu ... 1t' III .111. 1IlIIIM ullh JlII"~ oull .... n III thn·t· pi!"t· ...... III IIII' .... ·Ulpl" ... · m"m ·1 h,· n ... t "".,.. .1001·'·"'{lIprt'I.·III1I1I1 .... lb if 1111'\ ll.,d IWl'/1 mad,· frulIl I ful"llll) IIf 11I.,rhll· uhJ'·C·"" ur ""·ull'"m·. . fnr Tt' .. t..JUmnt;.,. ur ",'rl' Int·n· .ulnnlllwlIl ... III ""1111 ,IIlII 1'111' sanw ha ... Inlt' uf III!' p.llntill~~ 21 \I. ·'JIlI,Jr.I. \I !nlmia d .11.1" \\n"·r. 1111 rt' .tr,. u{'tunlh "hnIClj.tr.lphic .)tW·UIllI·III.,tiUI1'; ur till ... ·IMI II film) .. illin 1111' (·IIuuln ... u!t· hIT.1 twlll'r ,'ppn" 1.I1111n flfllll\.J..(.~ IlIIaW· ....... ·c·: Junil·lliru r,llJl/,ll.l, I" f"'mut' "f SlllIdllll I. 1.."lIlluII. 2001 TTiln .. lall·,lln I hllln ..... J BUrpt'1 ,III/I (....... u·rI'·II!'IICC"kl·r ~ \\hill· . lIl1ltd ,11.,111'.1"11. 1111' 1r,lIm' ill~ i... a 1r..Ul .. I.llilll1 "f lilt" qlllill ""Ir III m~ IUI/nhl,· upinillll. II ,ululd "j·I·1II Ih", \H'ulcllol" I Iwllt'r hll\ III dn Ih;lI. \,,",1111.101. 1.'1 al. I" IhL· .IulhOir ·' Prufc· .....llr InlwII \lmllld ... IIIl1n· 111.111Ufll·U mill" '"',I.........t'l·: C",jlr 1..t'l!tHl" lin \I"Cllli!". {\ldlU!.l: IIIIII'-IJ Puhlic·.llinn,.,. \I .m·h lCJ721. L (.amliclo \1I-..JI1I11rU 1'1 .11 II nh. "p ... it p.:188 I.ula .... "11I't"lfi,· plllni "'0.... : .. a l'!flrl IIr <111 '" U ("lOlt'r flf 1111" unih· ..... t:! H,·".·d thmugh .1 If'lIIll1'nlllU'III," :. Slun(,') (oJ\I·II. ill oJ .',.,ni,mr rm \,.~tlU'/;n.

liunarrl1966. Slunlc')' (:u\t·ll. I/mt lit· \11'1111 If/llll Jr,·.)Ol.'; i\t'\\ \ uri... ItKll. ilt\", I·it. Till'''''' I""'...u) . . I' ;Jmirll' 1111" qlW ... tiOllllf lun~lIu l:w and IIwaning rduled tn Ictt!'mn "rilid"'lIIl1l11l .11,.,0 ,i,,·,I-\I ... lh,· \j"Ui,I.tI1". ,,'1 \\ hUI is n·juJllblt· in lilt' \ i ... uul .Irt,., '·l1lail!'. nllt nnh

Iht· Ilul· ... IIOI1 . . of cn"'l1lion hUI ,,1"0 - ",Iwlht!'r "hal I.. lH.'in~ .. nid i... ,i';curlh pn-.. ~nl ill IIIl' al1"url. Ihal i ... \,t·rifiuhl" . (;r"gol) Bulll·j,. ,l. \lmmllll trt. I Crlllllll t nllw/(JIJ'. ' to" \ nrL.. 19()8. 0p. c'il 11 Chanl{'ler IL" 1"JKiuJlfI,-cJ h) \"runda. Ca.... I.uikria l'\ al. alltl L) c-.kn.. iull \muI'"lo. I·nlail ... lhe pn...t'I1C"l' tlf'l Ul1iqlh' fl'ul llri' Ih.1I ... llI·ak ..... ,holll lilt' II1I1I'f mind uf tl P'·f'oUIi. hUI 111'"-1.1 - I'n.· ... mll.I"I). Iht:' f~uIUSl!' Ihul emhoc:hcs il pl'f'oon "I'.lrt fmlll un)mJl' clsL'. U PIIT:"IS-Pc'rl'l ilnd ~) h iu \ mnf'oilio Lalu. FCrflulU/n I fIll/TXol" /)f(lIIlf1gs. (Munila: TIll" 1J.llk·7 \lU "t'lIlI1. 19921. 1'. 12fT. n lhn1.wrtfl h 'o, Willi ulil \\e;IH·r. Inco... l/rlll 111 1'ral"t'1 Will. it S,,/tmllllllUl (hllt'r FUlIn. Lrcul BrilUIII . 19<) I, In ... 11I1II't·.. "f rl·adin~ <llld lIIi .. readil\g~ rcg1lTflcn~ Iml p:uu~t· -IXllh "nlh'o nllI l \1;.,uaJ.lllltl 1IJ1l) l w. hod) lungllugc' trWi.


NUDE 1919 Watercolor on paper

22 x36 ems. Gift of Mercedes Zobel MeMieking

Pionecn: orPhilippinc An

67


EL BIBLIOFILO 1919 Watercolor on paper

37x26cm Gift of Mercedes Zobel McMicking

68


PALAY MAIDEN 1920 Oil on canvas

85.5 x 60.3 em Ayala Museum Collection

69


LANDSCAPE WITH MANGROVE

1927 0,1 on wood panel 33 x 39.5 em Ayala Museum Collection

70


MARKET

1927 Oil on wood panel 42 x 60 em Ayala Museum Coliectlon

l'iona::r.J of Philippine An

71


PORTRAIT OF ANICIAANGELA RICO DE MeMICKING

1928 011 on canvas

84 x 59 em Ayala Museum Collection

72


PORTRAIT OF JOSE McMICKING

1928 Oil on canvas

84 x 58 em. Ayala Museum ColiectJon

Plon«n ofPhlhrpinc An

73


BAGDBD 1932

Oil on canvas 27.5 x 22 em Ayala Museum Collection

Pi"nc:c:n; orPhilippinc: An

74


LANDSCAPE WITH NIPA HUT AND MANGROVE

1936 011 on wood panel

285 x 40.5 em Ayala Museum CollectJon

75


LANDSCAPE (MAN ATOP CARABAO)

1936 Oil on wood panel 28.8 x 40.7 ems. Ayala Museum ColiectJon

76

1


LANDSCAPE WITH FIRETREE 1936

Oil on wood panel 29x41 em Ayala Museum Collection

77


LANDSCAPEWITH FIRETREE IN INTRAMUROs

1941 OJI on canvas

40x SO em Gift of Roland and Lisa Ammann-lrTnLnger

Pionccl'li or Philippine An

78


TAGAYTAY

1947 Oil on cavas

32 x 40.5 em Ayala Museum Collection

(lionc:nso( ~~!Ijppint An

79


NUDE 1947

011 on canvas 49" 68 em Ayala Museum Collection

Pioneers of Philippine Art

80


TREES AROUND POND 1947 Oil on canvas

43 x 33.3 em Gift of Roland and Usa Ammann-Irminger

f1ionÂŤr:sor~~ilippine

81

An


MAIDEN IN A FLOWER GARDEN 1948 0,1 on canvas 74.5 x 60 em Ayala Museum Collection

PiOnctfl or Philippine An

82


THE OLDTENIENTE

1948 Oil on canvas

49x68cm Gift of Mercedes Zobel McMlciong

p,ooÂŤn or I'lulipplnc An

83


THE YOUNG LASAK

1948 0,1 on wood panel

443 x 57 em Gift of Mercedes Zobel McMloong

84


PORTRAIT OF VICTORIA ZOBEL DE AYALA

1948 Oit on canvas

60.3 x 75.7 em Gift of Jaime and Beatnz Zobel de Ayala

85


WINNOWING RICE 1949 OJI on canvas

55.70cm GIft of paz Zamora de Mascunana

PlOnccu of Phlllppme: An

86


BEFORETHE FEAST

1952 Oit on canvas

50x6Scm Gift of Mr: and Mrs. Eduardo Sainz Vicuna

87


OPEN MARKET SCENE 19571958 011 on canvas 105 x 124 em

Ayala Museum Collection

PiolU:en of Philippine Art

88


SUNDAY MORNING GOINGTOTOWN

1958 Oil on canvas

104.5 x 124.5 em Ayala Museum ColiectJon

Plon~n

or Philippine An

89


BY EMMANUEL TORRES

hile study ing in the . . in th e spring of 1957, I received through the mail a mall k etch rrom Ferna nd o Zobel togeth er wi th a note written in hi e le ga ntl y l oo p e d p e nm a ns hi p. It announc d th e result of hi earch for a mod e or working on ca nva th at wou ld defin e a creati ve transformati on. It had come about through countl ess explorative drawings and ketches: " 0 here it i , the hole in th e cann on." The ketc h had cross hatching lines surround a ring-like empty space - the " hole" whi ch loo ked more like a break in the cloud s with light coming through than a piece of mil itary hardwa re . The re t of the note indicated where his art was headed at that point. And th e word could hardly conta in my forme r teacher's deli ght at having arri ved at a new approach to painting: a kind of ges tural abstraction or calli graphi c impressionism.

91


Earli~r lIor~.

on in Manila he had mentioned the increasing pull of the abstract on hi!

Hefe rence to the ca nnon, a fi gure of .peec h typica l of his way with language.

ignaled that he had hit on a \,isua l expre.sion th at removed .. II traces of figurativf image!) from his lI ork. Specificall y, he wa. movi ng in a new direction in hi Saela .erit', for a one-man show at the Philippine Art Ca ll e!) (PAC) in 1957. SeH'ral factor, had brought abou t thi change. One was his increa ing fasci natior II

ith Uri!'ntal art in

pin~d

by a trip 10 Japan, leading him logica lly to learning tilt

tt'chl1lque, of Oriental ('alligraphy from a noted Mani la-ba ed rna ter from hanghai Ch路.,n Bing Sun of the China Art Ca llery in 1958. and to immersing himself ir rlas,ical Chine

poelry and Zen Buddhist lit era tu re. Anoth er was clo e contact!

I"

lIith hi, Olin genera l ion of painters in pain who were then forging a new ab,traet art quite

unli~e

pani s ~

any other in the plI ro-A meri ca n international mainstream

B) December 1960. he had made up hi

min~ 10

be part of thi s group, return to Ihe

homeland of his anee"tors. and in due time bu'ld a museum in the sceni c hill town "fCuen"a (popu lation; 30.000) ,orne one hundr d mile,; east of Madrid - the Mu eo de \rt!' Ab,traeto E panol (l\lu cum of pani sh Ab Irael Art). It would house th e ~rrmingcolleetion

ofSpani"h abstrac t al1 he had been coll ec ting ince 1956 by way

of enhancing app reeiation of the lIork of Ihe fine t a rtists in Ih e Iberian penin ula. \, for hi,

011

n paintings. they were getting better known in international circles,

man) findIng th eir way in to museums and a rt festi va ls in Europe and the U.. Whal fut'IiNI hi, di,erse activi tie a muse um founder-entrepreneur, painter, draft sman, print maker, photographer, sc hola r, a nd journal/leu e r wriler wa

boundl e s

I-nthusiasm and energy - he had lot. of bOlh - besid e assuming a role for which he made lim" in hi , in(,redibly full work weeks; as god father to some 40 children aboul to\\n. Thi" I"p lain. why hi a socia les and fri end fell he died young at age 60, \\ith

'0

many ('reative, publishing, and e,hibilion projec t slil1 on his mind.

j)p"pile th,. de('ision 10 setlle in the environment of hi choice for lh e rest of his life, I,.. mailliained hi s ('onnee tion wilh the Philippin e art scene through periodi c vi its 10 Man il a, and continued to hold solo ex hibiti ons al Ih e Luz Ca l1 ell" No malter how

light hi s work and lrave l chedule was, he managed to keep fri ends in Manila wel1 informed of his projec ls abroad by sharing his impress ions of lrips lo Europe, Asia, and Ihe U.S. th rough lellers and postcards.

olhi ng pleased him so much as receiving

lellers from olhl>rs - and keeping lhem. Th e importance of doing so , he once

92

UNTITLED (Chriscmas Card) 1951 PlastiCIzed ink on paper

13.7x II em GIft of Men:edes Zobel MeMleklng


explained, is that a personalleller is a unique document by someo ne addressed to another, and to no one else, and therefore to be valued precisely on that ac¡count. Like diaries, journals, and photographs, lellers frole moment s in time and space. the two motifs - the temporal and the spatial - that would haunt him throughout his life. Be ' ide lellers, there would be the catalogue, and im itati ons to h,s exhib, tlOns, monograph s and press clipping publi hed about him, hi s Iwloved Cuenca. and its museum housing representative pieces by fellow-arti sts I,hom he heloP,erJ to b.. a' good as Picasso and Mir6 when these giant , of Modern Art were

s tarton ~

oul. H,_

conviction that pa,n' new artist would eventually achiel'e fame at par with till' best in the Western w riel never wavereel. aw him at hi s Madrid

tudio in

e ptember 1964. soon after my task a,

Commi sioner of th e first Philippine participation at the 32'''' Venice Biennal .. lIa, ove~.

(He repre"'nted pain in the previou . biennal ... ) I had hopedtn ,isit

Cu~nca

and t e Museum of pani "h Abstract Art he was building there. only tn bt' informed my tin ing was bad. The several, centuries-old Gothic-era Hanging Hou,e, (C"""

Co/gada,) , poi ed spectac ularly atop a craggy cliff. were in the heller-.keller ,tageof their conversion into a fine-arts mu eum. the final home of his Spanish collection. This major cullural project had the support of both th .. C,ty Council of Cuenca and its culture- fri endly mayor. Two years later, I re('eired its inaugural exhibit,nn catalogue which featured on it cover a nocturnal viell of the museum shot from the bollom of a gorge. Its inner pages howed a warren of other cliff-hanging Cuenl'a hou es. the stark black-and-white ex hibition pact's, and the works he had acquired to proj ect the compelling measure of the pan ish a bslract momentum: paintings b) Antoni T~pi e ,Manuel Millare ,Gerardo Rueda. Lui, Feito. Antonio Lorenzo. Cesar Manrique. Rafael Canogar. Antonio Saura. Gu tavo Tomer. and Zobel as well as sculptures by Eduardo Chillida. Martin Chirino. and Jorge de Oteiza. The reputation_ of many of them would ri e oon after Zobel breathed life into what was then generalJ) thought a culturally dead town. Just as hi s collection grew in world-clas - pre tige. o did the showca e it elf: with its dramatica lly stark architectural featureâ&#x20AC;˘. its tid) zigzag of room, and fantastic setting, the noted .. fi ction writer James A. ~liche ner couldn't help marveling that " it must be one of th e world's loveliest museum .'" Later, in 1969, the mu eum's prospectus a'Tivcd. showing more glimpses of its interior spaces, its galleries displaying work (a few in color) which included additions to the initial colleclion, and fabulous view of the natural wond ers of Cuenca. 3.353

93


feet above ea level. In less than a decade, th mu eum had made considerabl e ~tride '

a an exhibition pace with a print work hop a nd an educational program; it

had also become a vi tal c ultural cente r, a mu t-see for local and foreign visitors, even a mon g those only vaguel y inte rested in contemporary arl. Zobel's ins pirational presence in Cuenca, a nd the mu eum's impact on th e public's taste , drew the att en tion of painters from all over pain. orne made the town the ir home on either a long- or hort-te rm basi or stayed on for good. The town beckoned as a major point of contac t for members of the art world, including the dynamic El Paso group ofTapies, MiUares, a nd aura, the first po twar wave of abstract painters to stir up international intere t, a nd who e be t work were leavi ng the country to be sold abroad, much to Zobel's di tre . A~ide

from his per ona l gratifi cati on in-,lransforrn ing the fam ed Hanging Houses

into a museum. Zobel found the town itselr- wi th the soaring sple ndors of it c raggy terrain, the pectacle of it cantilevered cliff hou es above the Rio Jucar, its luminous skie , gruff shado w , exhilara ting a tmosp he re idea l for hi s own express ive requirements, a ric h resource of vi ual idea for his own paintings, drawing, print , and photographs. All he had to do to work up his imaginative impulses wa to troll along its tony, winding roads or to look out the window. The town itself was all he needed to bring forth the lyri ca l me taphors one finds on hi s canvases. He must have experienced a n emotional high guiding Mi chener around th e old part of town when he compa red it to "the prow of a hip sailing into s pace.'" By 1970, Zobe l's res ume had grown more impos ing for the numbe r of times hi s paintings gained in ternational exposure and acclaim together with tho e of his Cuenca colleagues. In fact, it was diffi c ult to imagi ne a collec tive show of co nte mporary art

espflll ol that did not includ e hi s work , such as Before Picasso, After Mir6 (Solomon Guggen heim Mu 'eum ,

e w York), Space and Color in Spanish Painting Today

(Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Ja neiro), Modem Spa nish Painting (Tate Gallery, London), 7ivelve pan ish Painters (Gtite borgs Kon tmuseum. Gtiteborgs, Sweden), the 31" Venice Bi e nnal e in 1962 (wi th a bl ack-a nd-white Zobel painting on the pan ish Pavi lion's po ter), the 1964 ew York World's Fair, the 1965 Tokyo Bi ennale. But what made fri ends from PA G days reali ze he had reached inte rnational stature is mention of him in Mi c hener's best-selling Iberia: pan ish Travels and Reflections ( J 968). Th e Pu Iitze r Pri zewi nn i ng au thor of Tales oft he So ut h Pacific devote several

i'lOnccrsofJlhitippincAn

94


pages to Don Enrique Francisco Fernando Zobel y Montojo Torr6ntegui Zambrano, the first lime I saw his complete name trotted out thi s way in print. Of great interest is a tran cript of a dialogue between Michener and Don Fernando, which finds the latter in fin e form as keen observer of the art of his peers in Madrid, eville, and Cuenca, in each of which he mainta ined a studio. Their dialogue touched on two intriguing points. One: the group of painters Zobel chose to identify with was the avant-garde of hi s generation, with their fresh vitality and Innovative spirit UNTITLED (Stallion)

1951 Pen and 'nk on paper 37 x 35.1 em Ayala Museum Collection

running in the ir blood, a oppo ed to the popular purnyors of corsi, a pejorative word connoting kit ch and other mediocre art products. Two: the museum in Cu~nca had sparked intere t in the artists represented in hi collection. Before then. the majority of the avant-garde, even the ha ndful who had made it big outside Spain like the El Paso ll.roup, had to struggle for recognit ion in their own country. Cuenca helped change a ll that. More of the ava nt-garde were now being notIced by thl'tr comp triot as worthy of be in II hung alongside Velasquez, El Greco. and Goya. Betkr yet, the country's private collectors and institutions were beginning to buy ne\\ pani h art instead of, in the words of Zobel," orolla-like scene in which colorful women sell bas kets of clams." The well-traveled Zobel declared without resen'atlOn:

"I believe we have more superbly gifted painters in pain than they have in either Paris or London and certainly more than Berlin or Rome. This group ... is going to create the art his tory of the nex t quarter-century. That's what make thi mu eum so fa cinating. Th e culture of a nation coming into focus in a way it ha not done since the earl y 1600s."3 For hi belief in the worth of the young pani h abstract painters - and his passion in championing them - he was conferred membership in two of the pan ish state's highest orders of c ivil merit: the Order of Alfonso X el abio (the Wise) and the Order of

I abel la Cat61ica. These decorations were pecifically conferred in recognition not only for his having created the museum in Cuenca at hi own personal expense, but also for donating to the public all the painting and sculpture a visitor finds there. Unsurprisingly in the mind of culture observers, "Cuenca" and "Zobel" are not only inextricably bound, but have also become virtual synonyms for each other. Almo t two decades after his death , his own aesthetic achievement as a Spaniard and an internationa list was weLl remembered by Madrid's Museo Nac ional Centro de Arte Rei na offa (hereafter Museo Reina offal in a 2003 retrospective exhibition PiontefJ of P.,.hilippln( An

95


('urated by Rafae l Perez-Madero, the foremos t e~pert on Zobel. Fu ll y document ed in a hand omely produced, lav i hl y illu trated, and bil ingual catalogue of nearl y three hundred page. it i a model of styli h implic ity that would have do ne th e

II,

honoree proud (42 euros: about 1'2,700). To tho e who, like my elf, missed seeing this ilOmenaje or homage. the retrospective catalogue uffice a the next be tthing to .tanding before a elec tion of painting covering the la t 30 years of hi s career. ~ ' hat

i. more, it contains several es ays detai ling ma ny a peets of hi s rema rkab ly

eventful life written by the people who knew him well. His ne phew Peter oria no,

,

a .(' ulptor, writing on the forma ti ve year of Zobel' li fe as cholar a nd multi faceted \i .ual artist in Cambridge. Massachusetts, and a pioneerin pai nter and educator in Manila. is bound to be an engrossing read to Fi lip ino who knew his uncle way back in the 1950 . Hi remini cences of hi unc le in those year I was hi s tu den t revived many happy memorie

for rn,e.

Angeles Vill a lb a

a lvado r, in he r

UNTITLED (Dog)

1952

"Ch ronology," fill s in large gap in one' knowledge of his life fro m birth in Ma nila

Pen and Ink on paper

(1924) to premature death in Rome (1984) - and of the posthu mous yea rs fro m

27 x 33 em Gift of Mercedes Zobel MeMleking

1987 through 1999 whi ch witnes ed an outp uling of exhi bi ti on of hi work in pain, culminating in the Mu eo Reina

ofr

retrospecti ve a nd it s inva lu a ble

catalogue. As for a critical overview of his art, no fewer tha n fo ur essays - especiall y those by Madero and Juan Manuel Bonet, Director of the Museo Rei na

ofra-

assure Zobel hi s place in the pantheon of pani h c ulture heroes. Though fa r from being definitive due to etbacks in borrowing uch key work as La Vista (The View! \ ision), as Madero admits, the catalogue a ll ows Fi li pi no readers to keep abrea t of Zobel' aesthetic evo lutio n d uri ng the yea rs fo llowi ng hi s departure from the Ph iii ppi nes. Zobel" Madrid retros pective covered the ab tracts of hi s ma turity, but none of the fi gu ra tives from hi first one-man how in Boston ( wetzoff Gal lery) and those that followed in Mani la (PAG, Contemporary Art Gall ery). Mu eo Reina Sofra did include, however, four fro m his Phili ppine period, but onl y those at the prec ise point when hi s work had become totally abstract or non-objective. lt was undoubtedl y pra('ticalto limit the cope of its homage to his later years as a n abstract practitione r for greater homogeneity of presentation.

But for one who knew how he started

professionall y as a pai nter in the Phili ppines, the earli est years are adl y unaccounted for. A fu ll er retrospecti ve that in cl udes the earlier fi gura ti ve pa intings, drawings and prints - as well as th e earliest of the oil abstracts - will have to wait a nother day, a proj ect exac tl y rig ht fo r a Phili pp ine museum . PioneeD or Philippine: An

96

)


Such a projet'l dese rves ulmosl alien i ion. given Ihullh e ('un'enl ge ,wralion of arlisls herea l ouls has all bUI forgolle n hi s pi onpPring cOlilribuli on 10 Ih e ativancrmen l of Philippin e a rl in Iris multifacel ed cupaeily a. painler. c ril, e. hi,lonan. "du<'alor. publis he r. a nd collec lor of early poslwar Philippine moderns. Befnre h.. I)plon~ed 10 pain and Ihe world. he belonged 10 Ihe Philippi,H's. \\ hal 's ahundanlh' d,' ar. Iou. i Ihallhe pallern of hi work a in

I

i.ual arli.1 a nd proponenl of museum d"1 elopnll'nl

pa in pre-ec hoed IIha l he ha d acc·ompli , h,.d in

110

,,,,ull nw,,,un' ill II",

Philippine over 30 years ago.

\Vh en he firs l apPl'ured in Ihe Manila a rl "'ene in a 195 1 exhib,l,on "f IllI' Pl.( , Group. ils cofounder-curator. Ihe indomilable '"'iler-criliC'-painkr Lyd,a \q~u,lI a. ha iled him as a godsend . In Ih e yean; immediale l) foll()\1 ing \' orld \\ar II '" IIII'

Pa('ific. she ran the on ly ex hibition ~ pace in town open tu

m(){lpflll~ls

\,ho

\\PII '

.!Il

slru l\.gling Ih" n for Ihe art public's recognili on. She found hllllio be all "'\("'ptional defen e r of whal her ga ll el') Slood for: IIIP progressiw. 1111' experinlt'nla l. lilt'

""11 .

Beside. he had a mue nce a nd innue n"p 10 give modernil) a (·a"h ..1 IIf , I.ltll' " I .. time IIhe n ultracon e rl'alile Ma n ila found Ihe t',hihi li on, al Ill<' P\(, 1011 a nl, lraditiona lis t. too weird . and 100 freak) for comfort. TIIP eullure ,,'e,l(' lI a, ,I,ll reeli ng from the clas h he tll" .. n the com,enat i, e Cla"iraIlRomanli(' "chool of painle r ternando Amorsolo and S(' ulplor G uill ermo Tol,>nlilio al Ihe l niler,il) of II,.. Philippines. on one hand. a nd the P\ G Grou p in 'pired il) Ihe ideas of 'il'luri" Edades. who had inlroduced Po 1-lmpres.ioni.l. Cubi st. E'I",·"ioni.1. and Sum'ali,t aes lheli cs in Ma nil a s horll y before Ihe oUlbreak of World " ar II. on the olher hand. Although To le nlino a nd Edades had a de ba le going on in prin l in Ihe lalt' 19 10,.. a nd c riti c like E.

gui lar Cruz. Aureli o Ahero (a.k.a.~ l aglanggul \ "a) . .\nnando

Ma na lo. tram·i co Aredlana. Ricaredo Demelill o. l.eonida,. Bent'.a. ,\ rguilla. and myse lf were bringing up Ihe cause of the mode rn. in the pril1lmedia. Zobel ch"se III carry oul hi, " du c'ali ve mi s ian th rough publi c le(· tures. professional journals here a nd ab road. ex hibilion cala logues - and the gradua le courses he ta ught bpl",,>pn

1953 a nd 1960 a mid Ihe war-lorn ruin. of Ihe \I c neo de Mani la on Padre Faura. Ermila. Manila . In 19S:l,

ic holas Kunk el. S.J .. Dean of Ih e Al e neo·. Gradua le School. persuaded

him 10 teac h a Ihree-unil cou, e each lI'e(' k on Ih e Appreci a ti on of ·\rl. Ih e fi rs l of il kind in th e country. I took il as a n elecli ve

\I

hi Ie s till in eoll ege. one of on ly Iwo

und e rgradua les a llowed 10 do so by Ihe Graduale ' ,.hool. I e nroll ed again in it. l'ionecnorPhillPPIII(!\n

97


more challenging sequel. An Int roduction to Contemporary Art during the following term. and that opened m)' eye wide to the rationale of moderni m and the diversity of "ism,," it engendered in the la t century.

Di,tincti,e about hi" lecture was his use of a multidi ciplinary approach to painting, '\ ith constant references to hi story. literature. architecture. mu ie. photography, and film in order to ac hi eve a broader unders tanding of the visua l art in genera l, and painting in particular. Without ta lking down to his audience (whi ch included some ,oeidy matrons as paying auditors), he managed to be fre e of jargon. Evident was hi, Han-ard orientation in the liberal arts. A legacy of that orientat ion, which he ,\Quid ref.. r to

1\

ith jm,tifiable pride time and again in conver ation, se

In

to be

threefold: a talent for organizing information for future use, a knack for finding an,lIers to question, through personal initiative and resea rc h, and the cea e less habit of jOlling dOli n note a nd drawing/sl< trlling in notebook he always carried III

his coat pocket

II

henel er he tral e led for the purpo e of memory reca ll and a

prpmeditatilt路 tools to painting. lit- taught informally. a nd with s uch gusto that the first two Hba ic" courses I took gn' lI immen"ely popular the second time around. as did hi s la ter ones on Chinese and Japanese art. Though he had hi, yllabu structured in a handout distributed at the ,tart of each term, hi " s lide lec tures sound ed more like coffee-table talk , oftpn spiked

II

ith

II

ill)' anecdotes and quotable quotes.

everal of such quotes

ha,(' ,tuek to my minel: "Art li es in concea ling art" (Ov id); "Art constantly a pires to the ('onditian of music'" (\Valter Pate r): "There i no exce llen t beauty that ha th lIot som,' strangen .." in the proportion" ( ir Franci Bacon); "A professional painter is une \\1", has so ld a t least one painting" (Maurice Gros e r). And thi s ditty by \\ ,lIiam Blake t\\itting a popular l8"'-century court portraitis t: "When ir Jos hua Reynolds died.!AII Nature was degraded.! The King dropped a tea r in the Queen's ,'ar.! \nd a ll his pictures faded." A quo te I found e minen tl y unforgettable was the OIl(-

h(' attribu ted to the Freneh poC"t-paint C" r-filmmak e r Jean Coeteau to dramatize

the point th at nothing

ev(>r

happens in art gratuitously, or through the power of

inspiration alone, but through hard work: "When one visi ts the mu es, he is not offered a e hair but a tightrope.'" Il is lec tures mad e li s te ner wonder how he cou ld s us ta in th e energy of cond ucting a cia" aft er hours s pe nt at the office. working be hind a des k a

en ior managing

P.onttn orPhlJIPI"nt An

98


partner in hi ramily'. pre.tigious bu s in ~"" Aya la y Cia. To II hit'h hi. stand.rd ans wer with a wry grin was: he looked rorwa rd 10 it eac h limt', much as il prm'ided

a bra('ing reli e r rrom pure ly Inlsine. con('e rns. proor or Ihis li as Ihal he nc',er mi sed a clnss. A grea t communi ca tor. nOLhing marie him grin more

\ddely than

walching the r... ulu, or hi "jolting" insighl" hilling his audi,'nct- "Iik.. a Ion of bri ck ." Predicl a bl y, th e ('hec k ror )00 pesos (or 20 pesos per hnur. a rpl(ular ralt' in thooe day.) he recei, ed each 1lI0nth ror le('luring,lw ,\Quid roulon .. h .. nrlo" .. and relurn as a donation 10 the Aten .. o.

Typi ca lly, hi leaching ,t)l e could be felt in the inlmrlu{'llon to h" ') lIabus-halldoul UNTITLED (Ein Plerd) Undated Graphite on paper 17.5 x 20.5 em

, Iwre he advises hi

ludf'nts thus:

With thi s yllabus at)our di.po,a ll f.. d Ih at ilwre wi ll be lilll .. or nn n,' .. d

Ayala Museum Collection

for Ihe ta king or nole". Pl ease pal a ll ,-n lion 10 ilw di"'u"ion and Join il. To take voluminous notes in thi" cou""" II ill be a lI as te of 11mt'o I II ill .. xpeci you to use your eye . ears and lonf,'lle,., Examinations and tests. of which Ihen' II ill bt, r'-II. II ill be of Ihe "e,sa," I) pe, Credit will be given to cI .. ar. original. and 10glt'alJ) expre", .." Ih(Jughl Lillie if any I'alu .. will be given 10 the !',erei,e IIf nWIIl .. r). \n) all .. mpll" memo.-i , .. names. dales or pori ions or thi, syllabus \\ dill(' (and it

III

fart. ,,)

s hee r wasle of lime . 5

The require me nl of a few papers was the '路ey.. of lhe nee,II,,"lhrough whIch

\\1'

had

10 pass Ihrough. Thou gh mos t e njoyed li , le ning 10 hilll. Ih,,) dr<'3dl'd IIriting tho,e essay-Iype exa lTl~ and teb t ~ - alieasl one

"a few."

e \ f' I)

1\' 0 \H,(:' k!'t. not f"\t"I1路body's itif'u of

\ clua ll y. thes .. papers were crit iqu es of painling> ,e('n largel) Ihrough

color re productions of. ror inslance. a B) la nlill(' mosail' pori rail. a ~Ion el ,till-I if... a Cezanne lam!;,cape, a JapaneseslIlII;-e scroll painting b) Miya moto ~Iusashi (Shrike a ll

(j

Dead Brallch). Occasionall). he would bring lI orks from his art collection of

original painlings a nd prinl s to Ih .. grad uale li brary a 'H,!'k before papelO were du ... Jus l as dreaded, if not more ' a, was Ihe ir lea(' hN', "xpeclalion Ihatlh .. ) be 'Hillen with clarity, brevilY. ancl origina lily (no fOOl notes, if you pl ease!). In Ihe first course I look. he explai ned wh y we s hould spend sam .. time in seei ng a rl, e p('cially piClures at an exhibition. "Mos l people jusl whisk throu gh an "lOnttn orPhil,ppincArt

99


t'xhibi tion for li ve minute or Ie s. the n whis k out be lieving they have seen it. They haH' seen a bso lute ly nothing." In tead, he e njoined us to ta ke time be fore a pi cture, then ask ourse lves.'"

hat is the a rti , t trying to ayT' a nd " How we ll does he say

itT' Both que ti ons ("om prise the bottom line of the art of ee ing Art : " Look a t it rt'ne("ti\el). The eye is a part of the mind ." Beca use a pic ture. if a ny good, revea l it', meaning in full onl y when one i willing to ' pe nd as mu ch time looking a t it a it took the arti t to ma ~ e it. "A nd tha t." he wo uld concl ude, "is one rea on wh y a collector acq uires it, so he can li ve wi th it , s tud y it , a nd e nj oy wh at it has to oCfe r, \\ hich ma) not be tota ll y appa ren t un til a ft e r re peated vie wing."

\\ hen he started to exhib it regu larly a t th e PAC, Arguill a tota lly took to him: for h~re \\as no eorporate executive taking up pai nt ing a. a hohby afte r ofli ce hour .

Il l" had ta lent, inte ll igenef'. and edul it y to equa l those of othe rs. he ha iled him as thai rare species among loca l vi ua l artists. an inte ll ectu al. A solid ground ing in thl' humanities. per.ona l charisma, a nd arti c ul a te e nergy ma d

im pe rfec tl y

equippf'd to explain \\ hat Modem Art was a ll a out to various audie nce lypes from

UNTITLED (Man with Book) Undated Graphrte on paper

21.3 x 15.5 em Ayala Museum ColleclJon

Ilw groll', of academe to lakati Rotaria ns at their lu nc heon me tings. What initia l re ... ntment. if not enl y, some in th e PAC Croup had aga ins t him fo r the pri vil eges I... \\a, born into - wea lth . socia l promi ne nce, opporluniti es for tra ve l a nd se lfdl' IPlopm"nt - quick ly van is hed when they knew him better. For one, he never naunted his upper-class origins in any way. (He wo uld squirm whe never a nyo ne ",Iclr.. "ed him a< "Don Ferna ndo.") For a nothe r, hi c heerful generos ity. or casua l ,, ' n,e of noblesse ob lige. won ma ny friends in Ma nila" art sce ne. And he had one Ihin/( in ('ommon wi th a ll the regula r ex hibit ors in Arguill a's ga ll e ry: he wa a parttll.IP painter \\ ho found t ime at the ease l onl y in Ihe ea rl y morning hours. aft er ofli ce hours. and on \\f"ekends. They welcomed his company a t a lime whe n th e local ('uItUr<- seenI' \\a" sp lit inlo 1\\ 0 conni c ling camps. Con e rvati ve vs. Modern . Most of Manila's cultura li s ided with the c hool or Amorsolo a nd Tole ntino as the sta ndard

U) I, h ieh

10

judge pain ling a nd sculpture. Anyo ne who broke a way from it was

s ummari ly dismissed as e ithe r taste less or too eccentric for comfort.

II " gn'\\ close to some of th e bri ghtest ta le nls in th e gro up: H. R. Ocampo, A.1uro Lut . Vic('ntf" Ma na n.a la, Anil a Magsaysay Ho, Jo e Joya, Lee Aguinaldo, a nd Ermi la's enfanllerrible David Co.1 e. Mcda ll a. Not onl y did he admire th eir work s; he a lso s ta rted buying lh em. This was re ma rkabl e. cons idering Iha l few locrus, excepl mostl y friends a nd re la li ves of the a rtis t. fore igne rs, a nd member or Ihe dipl oma ti c PionCCI1 or Pllllippmc An

100


corps, were buying at all. In fac l, he booste d the mora l(' of the PA l; nlllgua rds hy using hi, intellectual authority to pe n,und e otilers 10 hu y n,." original painting,. Be ides, compared to those in olhercountrie".tiley "en' "('\tr,.n1<'l) ch~ap:' \ s for his own painting•. neithe r hi" reput a tion

II

ilh th" cu itura t •. nor hi, d",,' conta!·t

with lI e ll-he eled fri e nds and re latil es. nor hi , influence in Ihe pnllt nwcha did much to generate sa les , espec iall y whe n Iw shifted gears to go ail,tra!'t

Though Zob,,1 "ho"ed up lI eekends in s na zzy polo ,hlrts at the' 1'\(; for a

""II,·.·

klat.ch or photo,hool. most could .ense a n illtensil) hf'npath tlw rela\f'd 'llfl "" whenever he talk ed of his painting. hi· printmaking. hi, pholograph' - all i iiit' books he was reading, if a nybody asked. If not lIorking a l Ih(' easel. 111' reh,llI'd nothing be tle r Ihan readin g books of wide-ranging diIPC,it)': Cyril Cannnil 17'1",

Unquiet Craue). Maraue rite Yourcena r (I/adrlan:' Memom), \ larlinur \ah"k",

(La ita). Carl Jung plan

(Llld

Jis .. mbo/.,), the" riling' on /.en Buddh"ml" Uai,dl

uzu i, Allan \\'alts , a nd Eugen Herri ge l (Zen

/TI

the Irt of Irchen j, and Ih,. p""n"

ofT. . Eliot, Wallace teH'ns. e.e. cUlllmings, I)) Ian Thoma,. and F,·rI .. ri"" Ca n ' " Lorea. Hi

Harvard the j, on Lorca earned him a magn(} ellm laude.

hardly anyone kne w. he \\rote poems himself. Only

011<'(>

o\ithoLl~h

did hf' ,ho\\ me a handful :

I found them hi ghl), compressed. Imagis t. redolf'nt of classi!' Japan"'" and Ch,n,'''· poe try.

a)'

they we re good e nough for publication and he would shrug. For hm'

"good enollgh" was not good e nou gh. a nd to p.. rsist in rloing sonwtlllng le" than excellenl was not worth the pursuit.

As for the art-re lated aeliviti e which took a la rge piece of his time. sen inl( a, Pre ide nt of the Art As-oeiation of the Philippines (.'\,\1') for two tenn, (l9S:3-

19S4) i" note worth y for one thing: unde r his \\ ate h the perennially cash-strappNI a.,oeiation, reporte dly. managed to be soh e nt and able to me,'t it;, financial ob ligations. For another. he initiated and Olersa\\ a pioneer project: the publication of Art ofth. PhiLippines /521-/957. the first book e l er published on the subjed for the layman." Long out of print. it is no\\ on e l N) Filipinian. hibliophile's \\ish li st. The a Ulhors commi -sioned to wTite on 10 subject> wen' informed that the book wa, to be a coll ec tive effort and no ('onlribution was to be erediled

II

ith a byline.' EI en

Ihe Foreword wa to re main anonymous -albeit insta ntly de tec tabl e to a nyone a ware of fealures of the Zobe l style: lucidily, logic. \\ it , a nd ra ndor. Full y awa re tha t su(·h a premature project would receive a lot of flak , ".peri.lly ill itl; s kimpy cO\erage of the beginning, of art-making from the 16'" to th e 18'" century. If lillie informa l ion

101


or none existed . he defended AAP's ra tiona le for going ahead anyway if on ly as a mean

of spurring int e ll ec tual c uri osi ty in a s ubject that had long re main ed

unexplored. Hi s altitude went as follow: If there are fac tual e rror or glari ng gaps of kno\\ ledge in individual c ha pters. so be it, le t the m be open to correclion : in a revised edilion (none wa~ put ou t by AAP). or future s tudie by more cholarly authors. As he hopefully put it, " If we have s ucceeded in providing a kind of framework on which to ba e future s tudi e , we will be more lhan sati fied." The rore\\o rd a lone, a masterpiece of s tylis h apologia, is a lmost worth the price of the book. A sampling: In writing thi book we have tri ed to adopt lhe highly defensible altitude that Philippine art is something intere ling a nd important in its own right. We have tried to steer away from the two aesthetic altitude that prevailed here in th .. past. one of them bein " is n't all this quaint?" and the other '路thi 路 is almo t as good as European/American art . ... " The gaps in our book are terrifying. We have included nothing at a ll about primitve art. We glance on ly too brieny at tJ,e various a pplied arts, kipping some en tirely. and not necessari ly the lea t interesting. To have allempted to trace the earlie t beginning of a rt in the Philippines would have been to

10 e ourselves in a mass of ill-dige ted and questionable data. The prepanish Perio I is a veritable terra in.cogn.ito an area reserved for anothe r more d finitive work." EVt'n b"fore the book wa, publi hed (afte r a number of delays). the AAP decided to f"lIo\\ up this first project with another: on primitive art, or the tribal arts of the cuitural minorities. But nothing ca me out of it. Bes ides. Zobel wa no longer its prpsid"nt. In his writings. he a lso emerge as a pioneer in the field of religious art research. He contributed two .emi na l artic le to Philippine Studies, with hi s own line-drawing illu trations: Silter Ex- Votos inllocos路 and Philippine Colonial Sculpture.

I.

The laller

he f"xpanded into a book. Philippine Religious Imagery," wi th many black-and-white photographs and hi own line illustrations. This is notable for being one of the firs t studies to give due il1lportance to the popular tyle of santo-mak in g (icon-maki ng) by relatively uneducated, unsophisticated, nonprofess ional painte rs and sculptors. I'ionccn orrhillppmc An

102


On hi s own pen,ona l accounl, he pioneered in s limulaling ap l'r~C iali on of a ~pnrr' mo. 1 people, including arlis l , le nd

10

lake for grant"d or rel"g8te to a I"'el lo",,,,

than painting: drawing, and ' ke tches. II,· hml no h.. , it atiull p,h i"iting hi, paintinf(s toge ther with hi dra\\ings. or hi . dra\\ing, and skPldw, by th~IlI,,·I\e,. In I ()!)~. he broke ne\\ ground by publi hing a nifty. hard-("o,,-r pock"1 I)()uk. Sk,'/chbnoh. \\ilh hi willy an nolalion., 10 Ihe plates . Two )ear"lat.. r Ill' l'ubli,l,..d f){fI/( ' I/l~-' h~ Arturo Luz in both hard and oft co, e r edil.on,. "ith annotal.",,, I"

LUI

t.. till'

plate.

Never far from hi s mind \\ as helping his rello\\ - pai nle" . In h., ("apuell\ al ",,..IIlII'· a Honorary Cu ltural Au ae he or the Spanish Emha,,) in tlw Phil"'1'1I1I" (11);;(,). and while working !"I 0 ely \\ ith

ESCO . hl' obtai",·d "'hola"IIII" for 1'8.1l1o-.. " I..

enable them to travel 10 · pain. Rec ipients included LU1. Le!,:a'pi . Joyu.l. lm· Tnn ...... and a woman painter then leading a s truggling. sulila,.., Ilfl' ill Pari,. '",na ~a~1I1. Even .. h ile engaged in real-e· tate dewlopme nt al \ ya la ) Cia. I,.. ,urpn,,',j \Iukali', beller-orr citizenry by naming the street" in San LorenlO \ "Iag~ after art"l" \Ialanlll· . UNTITLED (Stell. M.ris) Undated

Luna. Hidalgo. Amor 010. Edades et a l. . the reby gi" ing a mpa'ur~ of 1'<'_""<"Ial"II11

Graphite on paper

to proress ional. in the fine arts. \\ ho were often Irea ted ror gene rat.",,, like marglllal

27.7 x 20.7 em

Ayala Museum CollectJon

members of so iety. Thi - was a beller idea. ,ome al III .. ~ \1' thought. than till' praclice or naming s treets arter politicians. Like everybody e lse at the P C, he bega n a a repn',entation"li,L If. in the early 1950s, it was bad enough to he taking liberli .. , \\ ilh recognizable subjeet-mal1~r through over.,implifieation. a llenua tion. and di , torll oll - th .. bone or conlenlion between Conservatives and Moderns - e liminatingsuhjl'('I-maller enlirely. or a lmost e ntire ly, did not improve rapport with a gallery -going public \\ ho e peeled painting to be a lire lik e representation of natural a ppearanet', a nd dis lik ed innmati,,' approaches to the fi gure that de-formed or re-formed iL By the end or 19!)3, however. he was walking the lighl rol><' towa rd abstraction. II I' is, in fact, counted a one of it ea rliesl exponent,. When the PAC organi zed the Firs l Exhibition or

onobjective Art. Zobel con lribul ed seven pi eces, the mOst

number or ubmiss ions, rrom which Plaza was s ingled out by Ihe Nitic' Magta nggul Asa a the most di stinguis hed in a field or 28 submi s ions by I j a rtis ls.'" Most or those seven . ubmi;s ions, though, did not rail s triclly under the category of th e

103


nonobjective: they we re ab"tract to a certain degree. but not yet purely ab trac t or nonobjective.

ubject-matter. though dra_ticaHy reduced in visual s horthand, i

sti ll di.cernible. For Lobel. a major brea kthrough came in 1954-l955 while s pending a year a arti tin-residence at the Rhod e Is land c hool of Design in Providence . Rhode I land . a po,t he ob ta ined" ith he lp from, is ual mii ts Jame and Reed Champion Pfeufer, friend from hi Harva rd da y. While there, he was like a man possessed, lea rning a, much as he could a bout technique in painting and the graphic arts. On his fr~quent trip

to !\Ie" York City. he was · truck by the work of th e Ab tract

F:'pres;; ioni -ts. then on th e a ce ndancy. and to eve ntually maKe it in the world' prf'mier art capital. Mark Rothko. Roheli Mothenve ll. and Franz Kline would become key influence, in tra nsform ing Zobe l'

31

from figurative to abstract. He was also

bus) atte nding e, hibiti ons of conte mpora r ' art in ga ll eries and mu eums, and studying Oriental art as well. in pre paration for a new cour e he, was developing for tl,.. \ teneo. "There'" just so mu ch to see and learn, I wi. h I could live for 500 \f'ars,"lw "rote in one lett er. He wa a lso re-esta Ii hing connections with a distant ('ou,in. \lfon50 Ossorio, th e Philippine- born painter who was then in the U.. who I'ul tl,.. coun try on th e internationa l cu lture mllp wilh hi s blazing mural. the "A ngry Chri,t" at St. Jo.e ph the Worker Chapel in Vic toria. Negros Occidental."

UNTITLED (Matador) Undated Graphite on paper

30.5 x 19.5 em Ayala Museum CollectJon

\/t er hi, Rhode Is land re. ide ncy. Zobe l traveled 10 Europe and

pain to observe

nl'" art de, e lopme nl s th e re. This inlense period of s tud y and Iravel was also one of intelh{, sou l-searc hillg. It gave him some Lim e Lo reso lve the co ntradictions of a doul,I,· life ami 10 cons ide r Ih e pro pec t of dropping the family bus ine

a ltogether

10 delOt" himself fully to painting.

\Xeeks a ft er hi s return 10 Ma llila , Arguilla quick ly noted his ind efatigable penchanl ror f"arlcss ex pe rime nlalion: "Among a group of enthus iasli c ex perimenLers wilh m/·rlia and technique. Zobe l is probably the champion, havin g inlroduced every I·IJI1e,·ivabl e ma le ri a l wilh hi painLing and tried all hapes and s izes of brushes. palell" kni, es, ; tic'k!, a nd eve n hypode rmic pump for applying Ihe paint on.'·1\ To which s he ('auld have added : he en larged hi s reperloire of s kill

while a broad,

I"arning a s lew of graphic lec hniques (etching. e ngraving, woodcut, dry point, monol ype. etc.) and experimen ls with color (of the e ntire pectrum and s ilver, goldI" a f, blae-k s, grays. and whites). More ignificantly, after de troying many of his r.onun or Philipplnc An

104


earlier figuralive paintings, he re-emerged as an uncompromisingly abs tract painler. Three among hi s firs l works done in Ihe new, complele ly abstraCi idiom were gifted 10 Ateneo: Bellerophon (1955), Untilled (1956), and Space No.1 (1956). When firsl exhibil ed, IlIO t viewers did not know what to make ofilwm. In a lravelling exhibiLion organized by th e A soc ial ion of ou th Ea.1 Asian Nalions (A. EA ) and the AAP. for in ta lll'e, his untitled painLing wa

incorrec'Lly hung to hi, puzzlpmenl.

His

works were mel. as he pUL it, with "embarras.ed ,ilem路e." Ilis colleagues reeognizeu, howeve r. that here wa someone far ahead of e,eryone ebe

In

innmali\e modernity

- in facl. the only one who truly deserved 10 be called a,anl-garde in the group while mosl were lill in the proce

of digesling Ihe ae,lhelies of modernity. aimo'l

half a cen tury old!

Months before .ell1ing in pain. in lale 1959. he donaled hi s "stud) coll.,('tion" If) the Ateneo de Ma nila University in Lolola Il eighh. Quezon City- some 70 po,t\lar paint; gs which marked Ihe beginnings of modern artth i. side of Asra. This Lequ~sl is nola I for its inclu ion of the counlrJ"s fir t and se ond general Ion of modernISts. I can' t forge I the earlie t pain ting he had purchased from Ihe PAC. anu broughL 10 Ihe graduaLe library for his clas 10 critique: H. R. Ocampo' l.ldO. (II .Hangga (F1,h and Mangoes), Luz' Bagong Taon (I ew Year). Manan,ala", }eepnels. Tabuena',

Laundr). Magsaysay Ho's Sheaves - amo ng the firsl e,amples of modern PhIlippine art we s lud enls ever saw. He acquired whal he thoughl were Ihe finest at the lime by painlers whom he cons idered destined for fame and fortune. and sometimes \\"Ith a lillie he lp from the painte rs themselves as 10 which works besl rl:'presented Ih em. In time . hi choi ces proved to be ub tanti al. given Ihat to datI:'. e ight are b) painlers who eventua lly received the s upreme acclaim from gO\ ernmen!. the tille of alionol Arti sl of Ihe Philippines in the Visual Arts: Amo<oolo. H. R. Ocampo. Manansala. Legaspi . Luz. J. Elizalde

avarro. Ang Kiukok. and Joya. As pari of Ihis donation

was a eleclion of his own works. three Saelas. a number of ab Irac ls. and the cro\\ n jewe l of hi. figurative-represenlational period. Carro=a (proce,sional carriage for religious icons). Zobel passionatel y be li eved nothing advanced knowledge of a country路s cultural life belter than a place where works by Ihe bes t and brighiesl cou ld be showcased and serve a legacy of ins pirationa l valu e to pre'enl and future general ions. He convinced Ihe J es uits of the Al eneo 10 transform one of the universi lY路 large r cia srooms on their Quezon City campus inlo a n a ir-conditioned ga llery and an Pionccn or PhilIppine An

105


adjacent small er room into an offi ce- torage pace. at hi own ex pen e. By thi gesture. he jump- tarted mu e um de\'elopment hereabout by everal years. ahead of the CC P. lhe Ayala Mu eum . and the Metropolitan Museum of Manila in order to realize a per onal d ream. When it wa propo ed thatlhe gallery be named after him. he demurred, not becau e of mode ty but because it might deter potent ial donors from following hi exampl e and helping the collection grow as a museum colleclion. [n the decades lhat followed, "hat he had hoped happened: the collection inspired olher donors to add to lhe original beque t- collectors. art ist . al umni . and fri end of the gal lery-

with some

oflhe more recent Phi lippi ne lrends and tendencies well-re present ed , and matching in quality that of his initial donation. Hi

Phi lippine painting coll ection wa n' t he onl y one he donated. A second

collection of international prints and d rawing

oon followed. Among the highlights: D e l ac ~o i x,

Manet,

Daumier, Toulouse-Lautrec, Pi casso, Rouault, 1I1ir6, Koko hka, Kollwi lz,

hahn ,

original fine print' by Rembra nd t. Goya, Hoga rth, P almer,

Baskin, ou lages. Hartu ng, Frasconi , Bernard Childs, Manansala, Magsaysay-Ho, and

ans6. as we ll as drawi ng by Amorsolo, Tabuena, Luz,

J. Eli zald e Navarro,

and Marciano Galang. >\ 'pecial two-week exhibi tion he enj oyed curating atlhe Ateneo Art Gall ery featured his initial acqu i itions of contemporary pan ish painting. This" tudy" collection , acquired a far back a. th e ea rl y 1950s, he did not donate: he wa sav ing it for the day he would join the Span i h avant-garde and build the Museum of Spanish Abslract Art. Thi would form the nucleus of his museum collection in Cuenca as part of his personal mssion to raise Spain' leading arti ts to greater world prominence.

If he preferred "stu dy" to describe the exa mpl es of modern Phi li ppine and Spani sh art he was coll ect ing, the reason i n' t hard to di cover: the e spec imens became the basis for Zobel's writing aboutlhem. He publi shed two essays - " Filipino Arti tic Expression" in Philippine Studies IS and "A rt in the Philippines To-Day"'路 in lhe New York-based Liturgical Arts - on an issue the art publi c obsessed about in the 19505: "What is Filipino a bout Filipino art?" He does not answer the qu estion d irectl y. But he does say that it has nothing to do wilh subject-maller as such, or painting carabaos or dalagas (maiden ) in nati ve dress. But rather, the Filipino Pioneal of Philippine: An

106


e lement ha to do with the way specific of light , "pace, and hape are handled by the painter in his overall pictorial de ign - in hort, the form of his painting. He al

0

hints at where the arti t might look for it: in primitive, folk and popular art,

from tribal des ign to bamboo triumphal arche" to je pney clt"cor.

In "Footnotes"

appended to Lydia Arguilla's 7 Years o/che Philippine Arc CaLLer), he sugge t that the que tion '"

there a Philippine styl e?" need not be raised at all. as "it is probably

being created right now:' He add :

However, the. chance are that a whole generation will hare to pass bpfore this quality oan be recognized.

Ri ght now we are conscious of the

differences between one artist and the next. become apparent.

omeday the .milarilies

\1.11

We recognize the obviou Iy " pan ish" in art.sts as

different as Zurbaran and Coya. That took a good deal of time. though

l'

THE NAVY MAN

Undated

He frequentl y deplored, moreover, the lack of a fine arts mu.eum.

Watercolor on paper 14.7 x t14 em

individual piece. cattered all over a great variety of private homes. hm\ could one

\'I' hat w.th

Glfl of Ennque Zobel

get to see an overview of conte mporary art originals on a permanent basis? In an interview, Ce a r Legaspi recounts an incident which show Zobel' belief 111 the importance of mu eums in a country's cu ltural life: I was then [1954] a member of the Board of Directors of the Art Association of the Philippines. Zobel was pre iden\.

In one of our meetings, he

broached the idea of a museum where we could house the AAP office. Of cou rse, everybody was enthusia tic about the idea. Fenny Hechanova was then Pres

ecretary of [Pres ident Diosdado] Maca pagal. I approached

him to see if he could make a study. and he sa id he could but it cou ld cost money. Fernando agreed to finan ce that. The report aid the idea of a museum wa feasible. and that we cou ld ra ise money for it.

0

everybody

was e lated about it and we started to meet to dec ide what kind of museum we wanted. We made s tudies of variou kind of museum. We had to meet ma ny times, but it became apparen t after the fourth or fifth meeting that attendance wa dwindling. Until finally. in one meeting. only three people showed up, Fe111ando, A.1uro [Luz] and myself. Fernando was so di gu ted. We were in the old Bureau of cience compound in Ermita. Plonrn'J of Philippine: An

107


Taft. He -tood on a chair and wrote on the wall or the office: Do we walll a

museum? Th en he aid, "Come on, le t's ha\e dinner." Dejec ted ly, we three had dinne r. Tha t was the last time we ever talked abou t the museum.'· The importance or

II

hat Zobel did a t the Ateneo was bes t expre sed by Arguilla.

\\ho belie\ed tha t b) findin g a home ror hi s Philippin e po.twar collection in an

--~

,n,titution or hi ghe r lea rning. he had "legitimized" modern Philippine art through the lI orks or those once closely associated

II

ith her gallery. Although months earli e r,

the Lopez Me mori a l Museum opened its doors to the public, it collection then, and ror year> the reafter. ro(' u ed a lmo t exc lu ively on the worb or two 19'h-ce ntury Filipino masters - Jua n Lun a y o\icio and Felix Re urecclon Hida lgo. In contrast, the Zobel beque,t compri.ed works by living Filipinos on the waydo becoming th e 1'0unt'1 '" ('u lture icons, the reby ma rking th At e neo

rt Gall ery a ··the first museum

or modern art in the Philippines.'·'9

Luriou,ly. orh is Olin paintings in the Ateneo bequest, only one i representational:

Carro;a. The other, belong to his earl y pha e of abstraction, painted e ithe r in Pro,idence. Rhode Is land in the mid-1950s. or soon afte r hi s retum to Manila. As ir to make up ror thi s co ns pi c uous lac k among his own paintings, many or his own drawing, and prints in the second bat c h or donation are representationa l and figurati,e. But th en he di"covered a similar imbalance among the first batch or rlonated paintings.

\~ ' ith

th e exception or Oca mpo' "beersteak" a nd sari-mallok

Il\Iu,lim birrl-fish motif) pi ece , Oteyza's Plastic Ellgineering No. 14, and 1. Elizalde Na\ arro', Black Machine, the coll ection he had acquired largely rrom th e PAC was prf'dominan tl y representational-figurative. and he re lt compell ed to s trengthen the al"tra(·t ('ompon<'nt or his a rt bequest wi th hi s own pieces and three orOssorio's. At that l}(Jint. cou ld it be that he had wis hed to be reme mbered as a painter at hi s be t, and on ly as a n abstrac ti onis t? Ir

0,

th e n we would have a les comp lete trave r al or

his artis tic' e\ olution . Certain ly he cou ld not have disown ed the rine t or hi s ri~ura ti,,'"

ror they ca nnot be dis mi ssed as ··juven ili a." I count among the very

iJest Curro;a, Bodegan /lilli/lema (Ant illian till Lire, Paulino Que Collection). and

Sluil ijl'rlJ I\UIJ;'. (Ship or Fools, Ayala Museum Co ll ection). A rctTO. pective that includ es Zobe l's Philippin e period (1951-1960). espec iall y the rigurativE's and til(' earl iest abstrac ts , is lik e ly to be a dev<-Iopment or a well-cen tered inte lli gence.

tud y in th e deliberate

uch a retros pective will not only !'JOllccn of ll hilippint An

108

UNTITLED (Landscape t) 1966 Pen and Ink on paper 15x20.5cm

Ayata Museum Col\ectJon


"retrieve" hi earlier development,

0

long eclip ed by the I ~ngthier panish period,

but will a lso prove to be revelatory: it will show not onl y obvious differences but a l.o imilarities to a n appreciable, often s tartling degree. The differences are abundantly clear, however: the brief but prolific', bril liantly co lored figurative/ repre entational ea rl y pieces a re "fea ts for the eyes," \\hile those that superseded them in the 1960s - in austere black and white - can an i), be described as "im itatlon, to meditation." The rati onale behind this radical transformation: \\hile the earilp,t pa intings depict a ma te rial a nd ensate reality. those that follo\\ed refer to an immate rial a nd transcendental one. But then, I hasten to add. the transition from the Philippine to the pan is h period turns out to be more of an evolution than a revolution. that is to ay, that the latte r period gre\\ gradually out of - rather than as an absolute brea k with what preceded it. The earlie t piee in the Ayala Muse um Collection is a J9W impression of the Chari s River in northeastern Ma sac husett . It is part of hi. Cambridge/Boston period nd fourth in his serial treatment of thatubject. Notably here. ab:;traction has already become a key element of his art-making. with its emphatically linear qualitie that would s how up later on hi cam'a es \\ ith telling effect. Thick .watches of deep blue suggest the parkle of water mingl ed \\ ith that of the sky. deliberatelv blurring the di tinction between one a nd the other. The thi ck black lines of arche" in rever-e prefigure the hype racti ve aeria l movement of the aeta series. Subject matter is subs umed under an overall preoccupation with formal Cubi"t elements.

Fruit tand (1952). like so many others he painted in Manila. draws its .ubject from the local environment. Anything quaint. indigenou". and colorful hardl) escaped hi s attention in serial sketches and paintings: ice cream cart. Antillan hou es. lush tropical gardens. palm trees. fruit boats. barefoot cigarette vendors

(Siga-Siga). festive procession , carretela (hor e carriage ). \\a hbasins. tractors. and espresso machines. They all show a robust appetite for the sensate. The composition is generally a closure, the shapes ample a nd ensuou . polychromatic. and bur ting at the eams. as it were. with the joy of Ii, ing. Though the sen ibi lity the paintings dis play is unabas hedly baroque. oft en exuberant. the form of the paint ing is never eCfu ive or scattershot.

Bo)' with Kite (1952) hows the artist doing a slraightfon,'ard portrait \\~ th a minimum of detail s. Inspired by hi friend Zulueta da Costa' dream of a bo)' borne to heaven

109


h) hi. kite. it i. a close-up of a lad's head I irtuall y ovenvhelmed by the ize of hi s

",ranggola (kite). A string ofta els introduces a whim ica l ele me nt in a n otherwi se rigid pictoria l design. Refl ected in the boy" ' face is a subdued melancholy remini cent of hi , forme r me ntor Reed

ha mpion's neo- Romantic a rt.

The arti,t'" lOl l' of class ical learning shows up in a key work of the a me year.

'tulti/era ,\ al'is in the ya la Mu eum Co llec tion first ex hibited at the PAG , then a t th e Philippine Cullural Exhibition orga ni zed by Argu ill a \ hic h traveled to New York

ity a nd Was hington. D.C. in la te 1953/earJy 1954. The ex hibit includ ed 107

llOrb not only b) 16 of th e leading figures of Philippine modernis m: Edades, ~I anansa l a . Luz. Legasp i. the two Oca mpos (He rnando and Calo).

agu i!. a nd Zobel:

hut also by fi,e innovative "" patriate in the U. . : Alva Alegre . Ben Gonza les, \ enancio Igarta, Manuel Hey Isip . and 8duardo a lgado.

Zohel\ 'tulti/era f\ati.l li as ins pired by a medie val allegorical satimby the German po,路t rbastian Brant {1458- 152 1} la hing ou t at the weak ne ses and vice of hi s times. It assembl es on a ship rep re e ntatil e. of every age, cia s. and quality a mong pa"enger ' bound for Narragoni a. the la nd of fool . Th , composition display multi figura l baroque qualities a t their best: e very square inch fill ed to ca pac ity with "un il inear forms. a ncl not a brus h. troke out of synch with th e cohe iveness of th e II

hoi". It exuberance i reigned in by a controlling intelli gence tha t know how to

aloirillretc herl e\cess. partly by keeping th e linear moveme nt well-cen te red. and partly by using color. in th e ne utra l ra nge. Described by the arti t him elf a nd by \rguilla in he r ca talogue ab a wat e rcolor. Stulti/era Navis bend. the rul es of th at truditiona lmed ium in that it is too la rge for a wa te rco lor a nd it di plays more opacity than tranbparenq. Actu all y. it is both wate rcolor a nd tempe ra: more importantl y. till' nm llOrks. Fo r Zobel, painting is joy. and "anythi ng goes so long a you get allay with it.路路'" \nd if he gets away with il. it i because everything he paint has been ('arefull y prepare I for by countl ess prelimin ary dra wings a nd ske tc hes. Color. Itowpv~ r. is wh a t c ha racterizes the bes t of Zobel in the 1950s, togethe r with hi s ,en.", offlamboyan t form.

owhere is thi more evident tha n in a pairofidentica i-

, i/ed pam-Is (120 x 60 c m) tha t mark the c ulminati on of his Philippine fi gura tive , tyl.. : Bodegoll Alltillrlllo ami Carroza. both from 1953 and paint ed back to bac k. In fa ct, th " pair may be ('e n as va ledi cli on LO the repre e nt a ti onlli tyle before hi s

110


conversion to non-fi gu rati,·e abstraction. Both are solo-figure worb, one ecular. the other religious, s howing a ide of Philippine eu ltu re beari ng , pani"h influf'n('''. Thi is an a pect rare ly exploi ted by other artists painting in the Philippines.

Bodegoll AllliLLano. a full-figure caricature of 11 Spani,h lad y ensconced in a lIicker chair, is a se nd -up of the , anity of worldly lIi"h .. ". Although dolled up in a prepo terou Carme n ~ I iranda-hat laden '\ ith hunclw, of grapes and hea\") mak~ul" and decked with diamond galore from throat to II rists. "I", manag'>s tn look dignified in a n absurd sort of way, a kind of fatuou role model for a latter-day ,N"on UNTITLED (Fragmento de una Tormenta) Undated Pen and ink on paper

15x20.7cm Ayala Museum Coliectlon

Ri zal' nativ!" epitome 0

fir J"se

ocial pretense. Dona \ ietorin •. I'hattlw painting is rdem'"

to as a "still life" onl underscores the "atiric intenl of this quasI-portrait.

Pe(haps no other work in Zobel's ext .. n.ive Of'Ulre ha" had a, many prelnninan dra, ings and ketche done for it in aillype" of media. not to menlion pnnls. as

Carro:: : Ihe ·e. numbering in Ihe hundr.. ds. Carro:a ,lands as hi s personal salut .. 10 th e be. of the ')pandl colonial heritage in the Pholippines: till' reh",,,,u, or s upernatuml element Ihat ha - become imbedded in the Filipino pS)Th,..

I.Ike

Bodega1l.the draft.manship in the final icon is refre,hingly 'pontaneou>: and thew"\" hangs a ke) 10 hi s crealive process. One 1I0uid imagllle that the ,het'r numher of dra\\ing and s kelches cou ld lead to ovemorking Ih" final product. bUI il doe, not. In facI, Ih e hundred of studies are never inlended a, pr"ri.t' frames of refer"nre lead ing tOl\ard Ihe final painting: they are justlhal, preparations. as a means to gam fac ililY in execu ling Ihe fin a l , ersion of Ihe iron. B, then. many technical glilche, had already been identified. sorted oul, resoh'"d. The final painting process itself wou ld then have become fairly simple. completed in a few day' or sittings.

Carro:a' model i the image oflhe celebrated Nue,lra Senora de la Consolacion in San Agu lin c hurch in lnlramuro \\hich Zobel sa\\ in a procession. Numerous omamenlal detai l which one encoun ters in the dra\\ ing. and .ketches are pared away in Ihe finaltrea lme nl. But the ensuou form and coloroflhe image itself. and of the bu lbous lighl and ferns of its carriage. predominate and define Ihis modern Mali e-like , er ion of the baroque in Philippine culture. It bids farewell to this art ist's mosl flamboyanl and decoralive period as well. The ornate. go ld-leaf frame. designed by Zobel himself. bUI exec uled by a uperb rna ' ier craftsman named Mae Iro Nuguid. adds 10 Ihe s plendor of Ihi, finall'ersion of the icon.

III


After hi, .oul- ea rching in th e mid-1950s, a nd while obse rvin g Abstract Expre.sionist (Ab Ex) deve lopment s in

ew York , Zobel purged hi ca nva es of

subject malter and experi mented wi th purely pia ti c a nd gra phi c concerns.

one of

.~ :~'.

the agi tated .elf-expressive features of Ab Ex typica l of the work of Polloc k and De Kooning appealed to him as much as the quieter, more cont emplati ve as pec ts of Rothko. Mothenvell, and Kline.

A sy nthe is of this la tter three i a pparent in

Bellerophon (A teneo Art Call ery Collection), an a ll-black painting with drips of \\hite and yello\\ . which H. R. Ocampo applauded for it u e of black a dominant element of this brooding work. In hi. other early ab.tracl>. Zobel also incorporated certain features no self-respecting exponent of Ab Ex would think of e mploying: adopting image from geometry square. and rectangles uggestive of w' ndow , doors a nd table - as part of an intellectual altitude tha t carefully balances ictoria l elements of line, color, tex ture,

UNTtTLED (Ropa Tendida)

and "pact'. In the absence of recognizable or realisti c ubject matter to hold up

t967

,·isual attention, there is till much to ee in the

Pen and Ink on paper

earl y alrtracts: the sen ate lu hne

of the eolon and te,ture •. and. above all. the . heer ex ube ra nce in laying them onto ea O\'a. remain constant. in his art-making. A plendid example of this i Zobel'

1956 Fhghl

10

Gerona ( yala Mu eum Collection). It central motif. a rectilinear

r-io,ure eontaining a ca lligraphic diagonal abstraction, is set again st a pattern of polyehrome patches . One ca n almost imagine the vigorou ca lli graphi c strok e "tralJlIng to be free of closure and acquiring independent li ves of th eir own. The real breakthrough eame the following year in the Saela seri es, as th e calligraphi c ell'ment broke loose from clo ure of a ny kind. Line a nd s pace dominate over color, "hi('h i, r"'egated to the background or as directional marker to the movement of lines. ' ignifieantly, th e eries i named after an improvi ed song in th e Flamenco repprtoire; hl' describes it a '·brief. acidic. and hi ghl y emot iona l. "" He would tal' with thi. ,eries for the longest time. u ing its generi c titl e for painting for whic h he could not think of proper titles for; so that what differentiated oneSaela from another was its opus number (in th e case of a black-and-white one in the Ayala Museum Coll ec tion. th e numbe r had reached 345). The improvi sa tional, i. e., spontaneous, cha rac ter na rrows the gap between his penanel-ink drawings and paintings to a degree he had never achi eved before. Creating a "long, thin. e"n lrolled lin e" on canvas was some thing tha t had eluded him until Pionccn of Philippine An

112

2t x28cm Ayala Museum Collection


he aw a cook writing "Happy Birlhday" in icing on a cake." Thai gave him the idca of us ing a hypodermi c syringe filled with pigmenl , with ils ncccli e serving as the niu of a pen. To prod uce" hadows," or tones and half-lones, Iw liQuid use a

df}

brush

a nd nic k Ihe pain t 10 one "ide while s till wet. The point is to be absolutelv ccrtum with eac h bru" hslroke, to avoid a mi slake, a nd to keep Illl' fini.hed canvas as impecca bly nea l and immaculate as is typica l of every Zobel abslract.

The e motional contenl of the aela may pro,e elusiv ... inl110sl ('a',"s. Insl ead.llhat in tan til' strike Ihe eye is the unfellered thrusl and onrush of lines IrmPNng 'pan' - or the hol(' of the cannOIl.

olhing viibly subslanlial or icollic slands oUllor Ih ...

eye 10 gra"p; more than anythi ng e l e . Ihe lin6 look like ,,路affoldll1g. Or lik,路 II ... a th of a raging "torm. Or, in the words of Ihe 17'h-century Eng),'h Weu. ter, " Iike net 10 catc~ th e wind:'

flOP[

J"hn

omelimes IllP linps scem 10 Ihm "lit

If! .1

wisp of color onl y 10 reemerg elsewhere in hid"-and-see k fashion.

The ga p belM'en ink drawing' and painling got e,en narroller in lilt" 11 .. ,1 ph"" "I hi c rea tive melamorphosis. In his 1961 one-man ,holl of painting, and drall In~, at the newly opened Luz Gallery, he took the radical st(-p of abandoning ['olorf'lIti""I), and even lexture. in favor of black paint and tlw IIhile of Ihe can'as. If il ('aUl\hl gallery-goer complete ly by surprise. the reason is Ihat lilt' Filiplllo art puhlir invariably assoc iate. painting '\ ith color. and lack of il is lantamount to monnlon). It i a li e nating only to those whose las te cannot recogllir" the power of lIorks

111

black and while, including tho e of the revelalory Sllf"i-e masters 01 pasl centune,."' Allhis poinl. dis tingu is hing uelween the white of the ('ama, and Ihe willte of pappr proved 10 be next to impo sible; painting and dr.1I ing lended 10 be indi'linguishable from eac路 h other. e'peciall y so IIhen 'een in reproduclion. Aprarenl at thi ' siage is Ihe impac t of pani h abslraclioni "ls on hi lIa) of ,eeing and Ihinking about art; thi is not 10 say. however, that his con lribution 10 conlemporary Spanish art is any less origina l and s ignifi cant than hi compatriols. It i" 8('[ually considemble and unique, as lite Museo Reina offa retrospeclive all esls. In 1961 at Ihe Lu z Gal lery he demonstrated thai Ihe hole of Ih e cannon i space il self. In Ze n, space is not mere ly a negati ve or pass ive element bUI a pos ilive, active, one. e nhan c ing th e prese nce of a n "bs lnH' 1 co nl ent. a ca lli graph ic configuration or molif. It is not impl y a nolhing. a blank. 10 be filled up wi lh I'mncc:n "f I'hillppin~ An

113


some thing, but a n e mptiness that is some thing-in-it se lf, intangibl e but vital nonet heless, like the air we breathe. Tha t e mptines i made to inte ract with the abstract image. Or ome time not a b tract a t all . a in the 1961 Portrait of E.P. (Ayala Museum Coll ection). What he does he re i an e lementary cour e on how to rea lize e mptiness as a n acti ve principle. The image i a sta nding figure, not a contour but a gestural d rawing of one. It occupies one-fourth of the total pictorial space. Had he placed it a t the cente r a in regula r portraiture, the e mpty spaces around it wou ld te nd to be ymmetrical, and therefore tatic. Conservative eyes may simply look upon a ll that bla nk s pace a a sheer wa te of canva on the part of a pai nte r who ra n out of ideas. But by placing the fi gure the way he did, the la rger empty space - nearly three-fourths of it - becomes thereby-"ac ti vated" and made to point up the fi gure in a n a ymmetrical, muc h li velie r, ma nner. Defining that " hole" fu rthe r are example of his pan ish paintings and drawing in the Ayala Mu eum Collection. Whe the r it

~s

in Vasata(1960) or in fearo (1962), the

abstract image does not s im ply fill up s pacel it int eracts with it. It is anything but 'olid; it is porous, openi ng up to. or fe ne tra ted by, the ambi ent s pace. And because this ambient pace is asym me tri ca ll y de ployed , the image, drawn as mass lines pul.ing aero

the \\ hi te canvas, repre e nts the restless e ne rgy fi eld tha t lies at the

eore of things. As the physical science a tte t, nothing i actua lly still in na tUTe; rather. it is in a state of tra n ie nce. con ta nt flu x. or micro copic activity.

His

landscapes - Ef l ardin (The Ca rd en), EI Retiro (The Retreat). La Ven/ana (The \\indow). Haril'eies. all etch ing from 1964- symbolize this vision of organi c e nergy simm.-ring beneath the compl acent surface. '\bstraet art may have nothing to do with the lik eness of na ture, but it resona tes \\ ith symbolic a.soeiations nonethele s. Title . though they oft e n fun ction as a m... ans to simply differe nti a te one a bstract fro m a nothe r, oft en evoke subliminal associations. T he mORt common are image offli ght and ornithology, of birds. cl ouds, angels. winged horses (Pegasus). mythological he roes auempting to sca le the heave ns (/CO(l"'.

Bellerophofl ). a nd the like. Or images of a n aquati c splash, sparkle of glass,

a burst of fl ame, aq ua ti c turbule nce. psychological angui sh in an undated drawing,

Fragmen /a de una 70rmenta (Fragme nt of Misfortune), bristling animal fur in a pa inting of 1962. La Nutria r rhe Oue r). When color does r{'appea r in his painting as in El Baleon /I (The Bal cony II, 1964), il is of a hazy pa tel softn ess. Cone are Ihe complex calligraphi c syringe slrok es, now re pl aced by wispy, minimali Iline . The Zen less-i s-more aestheti c emerges as PionÂŤn o( Philippln~ An

11 4


a controlling motive of pictorial organization. This i visual understatement wit hout sacrificing sensuou color. Similarly, th ere is a growi ng fascination with light and atmosphere, which leads him to ap ply tints, a lbeit sparingly, to his amb ient s paces. These are Ie s brushed onto the canvas as "prayed on. so that chromatic ton alities appear as .. tains" or 路'blushes." They go equally well with hI s Neo-Romantlc' fasc ination with a tmosphe re, e pec ia ll y in evoking indeterminate times of day as the hour between night a nd day (pre-dawn) and vice-versa, da) and night (afterglon). not to mention his love of light with the "ensi ti vity of an Impression"t such as tlw 19"'-century English land cape painter he admired,

J.

M. \l. TurnN. This love uf

lumino ity i be t seen perhaps in Tension Lumlllosa (Luminous Tension. 19()'1). a black-on-gra y evocation where light peers through a rift in a dark cloud li~" an ell'

ACADEMtAVll

The ame may a lso b ob. erved in Dialogo con Punlo.I (Dia)ogu" n ith Points. 1% II

1970 Pencil and Ink on paper SlxSO.5cm

appears to be a square c reen of tiny orange sqlla r"" like that of an air ,enl. In stdl

Ayala Museum Collection

another. Paisaje Sordo (Mufned Landscape. 1965) the "'ene is a t\lilit lands"ap'路.

where a haft of light s ituated on the upper edge of the ca nvas streaks hy "hat

with th "eye" of light truggIing to get through a blanke t of darkness. By th~ ,路"d of the decade. geometric form rqemerge with a vengeance. through strai ght lin,路, and rec tilinea r and cubic

hape

in a n austere landscape nith a curinus quasi-

perspec tive, a. in Lru Solidades de Lope de lega r rh e olitudt's of Lope de \egal of 1968. nhe re the atmo phere is clearly on(> ,ugg,."ting immense di"tane"s and metaphy icalloneliness. Through the 1970 . the minimalist aest hetic manifests itself with inneasing inten,ity and lyri cis m. But not without a e n e of ri k in reprp.pnting an even grea t.. r sense of s piritual olitude or ali enation. The minima li ' m of EI Logo (The Lake) of 1971 borders on eva ne ce nce: it cal l for three horizontal lines. t\\O of them in dotted parall el. and one thin vertical near the cen ter against large irregular stains of autumnal hues to suggest a landscape with a l a~e in it. It ('ompel a \ i e\\ !'r to wond er how far the painter can get away with ronjuring omething that isn'tthere at all! The undated LIlZ Palida If (Pal e Light II) is a lso ris k-taking, e, en as it Oirts again with an eva nescent land cape image: a long horizon ta l line and a perfectl) c irc ular ' un veiled by mist Ooating above it. It is as concise as a vi ual haiku can gel. In another ris k-taking piece, TaniO MOllta (Muc h Value, 1973) it isn't difficult to mak e out what th e almo t over-the-edge. black-on-pearl-gray image s ign ifies: the sort of light that th e artist. being habi tually an ea rl y ri ser, wa" most familiar with ince Manila days: pre-dawn light. Two works, an oil painting and a hand-tinted print, pay homage to a ] 9'h-cen tury Oautis t and Out e maker, Teobaldo Boehme (the

115


first name is correct in the print, though not in the painting}. A similar haiku attitude prevai'" in the painting, where again two straight horizontal line

uffice to

l(

' ugge t the mu ica l instrument of Zobel' choice. urprisingly, a figure, albe it a shadowy one, i the unmi sta kable image in Rejlejo en

un Espejo (Refl ecti on in a Mirror) of 1979. More gho tly pre ence than ma terial reality, the ubjec t is repre e nted by one irregular stain occupying muc h of the pic toria l pace. Th e image i an amorphous blur; on ly one verlicalline of variable bru h pressure drawn in the middle of the canvas, and a number of sharper. shorte r , erticab parallel to it, indicates stability, or equilibrium, in an otherwi se forml ess blur. E, en a t this la te stage of hi developmen t, the painter remained unafraid of ,isual brink man hip. The abstrac t lyri cism of Zobel is nowhe re more-evide nt than in the late t acqui ilion of the Ayala Museum: Quatro Lineas (Four Line, 1972). It is many times removed from the more drama ti c - and at times violent - Ab tract Expressionist outbursts of the EI Paso group.

It qui etly represent s a

indow opening pre umably to a cold

day's de cen t upon the Hanging Hou e and tRi o Jucar.

ignifi cantly, it carrie

an inscription written in th e arti t' elegantly looped penmanship: four line of classica l Chinese poetry from the Tang Dynasty painte r-poet Wang Wei (A. D. 699-

959). which read:

Wh ite pebbles jut from the rive r tream, tray leaves turn red in the cold au tumn : o rain is falling on the mountain pa th, But my cloth es a re damp from the fin e green air.

(Translated by Li Fu-ning)

Pe rhap. the one quotation which should be inscribed on an exhibition wall in a Zobel relros pe(路 ti ve in Ma nila some day soon i al

0

one from another Tang Dynasty

author, Ching Hao (approx. A. D. 950-990). The artist used it in the catalogue to his 1966 one- man show in Man ila.24 It consists of a dialogue between a neophyte and a wise old me ntor, whi c h goes as follows: I re mark ed: 'Painting is to ma ke beautiful things, and the important point is to obta in their like ne s, is it not ?' Ploneen or Philippine An

116

UNTITLED (Landscape II) 1978 Pen and Ink on paper 8.5 x 13.8 em Ayala Museum CollectJon


He an wered: 'It is not. Pa inting is to paint, to estimate the s hape of thing•. to really obtain them; to estimate the beaut y of things, to read, it: to estimate the ignificance of Ihings and

10

grasp it. One should not lake outllard

beauty for reality. He who doe. not under 'Iand thi s mystel)

II

ill not obtain

truth , e ven though his pictures may conl ain likeness.'

I asked : ' What is like ne

and what is Iruth '!'

The old man aid: ' Like ness ca n be obtained by ,happs

II

ilhoul spirit. bUI

when lrulh i. reac hed. bOlh spirit a nd """tancf' an' full~ ('xpressed. II~ who lrie. 10 express spirillhrough om ampn lal b('auly II illmak .. d('au thlfl~'.' (TrcIfl.., lafed /'.1 O.m/" Sirell)

Endnotes I

James A. Mi chener. Iberia: 'fXlnish Tral'eis a"d Refit! 'lions (

!

Michener, op. cil.. p. J5S. Mi chene r, op. cit.. p .•156.

l

~e'\

York: hwcell (.r'r'cent 13001.... 1968). p. 156.

t To dale. ho" e\'cr. I have no l been able 10 track dO\\11 the -.oun'e of lhi" quotulton illlribulcd to C,X:It>iJU. \ Zobel. "Lt."ClUre Outline.;, for the Course in Contemporol') Pain ting" (Alenl"O Graduute :X-hclOl.

19:;'1-55. mimeogruphed), p. 2. 6 Winfi eld oll milh III. ed .. The Art o/the PhilipPlne.f / 52 / - / 957 (\lan ila: nle \ ""<X.'ialt'tl Publi~her.\. 1958). 7 \ ... far 8S I can recall. Lhc identiti e.... or the au thor.-; an: mi roll o\\ s: "Ch urch \rC'hitc('turc and Bdigiou"t \ rf' IJnrl " 'II II(lr \11 ... durin~ till" :,\pani .. h PeriOlI" (Zobel); "Luna and Hidalgo" (Emm anue l Torres); "Thl' Early Painlt'rs." "The GcnTt.' Sc-·hool or f'nhilill rlt·la Ro ..u." ilnd "Thl:' Iledi,w flf Genre and the RiZ)c or Fernando Amorsolo" (E. Agui lar Cnu);" pearhcad 10 ~ l l)dem Art - Tlw TriUlm lrult-" (Lall) B. (ll-.BUlla); "\n-lllll'dUfl.· 10 tht' Philippinclil" (Ange l akpiURodrigo Pcrc1. 1I1); " Philippin(' CI)IIIt'mporuI), Art" und "The i\eglc('ted Flt,ld - ~l'ulplun'" (iA;:'ollirlu .. Ill:'n,,"ul. ft Zobel in 5<,'oU Smith III , op. c it.. p. \.

') Philippine Stlldies. Sf'plcmber 1957. pp. 261-267. 10 Philippine SlI1dies, August 1958, pp. 249-29k II Zobe l, Philippine Religious Imagery (Qu ezon Cily: Ale neo Uni\'l· ..... il) Press. 196.3), 12 Maglanggu l Asa. The First Exhibition o/Aon-Objcrtilc Irt i" Tagala (Pasa). Munil.: House of A'a, (954). n Cr. Eric I EmmanuelJ Torres. St. l a.feph Ihe lrorker Chaprl (Victorias, i\egro .. Ot'cidt'lItal: Victoria!; 't illing Co.. 19(8); quolf·d in II. B. hit·dman. ,Ilfonso Ouorio (Ne. York: HoOT) N. Abram,. (972). pp.37-:l9. II L)(lia \ rguilla. 7 l ears Qfthe Philippine Art Calle') C 't aniln: Philippint· \ 11 Galler'). 1957), p. 17. 15 Philippine S",d~,. Sept. 1953. Vol. I. No.2. Pl'. 125-130. "' Liturgical I".. , Aug. 195.3.1'01. XXI , No. 1. pp. t08-1 10. Ii l obel. " Footnotes:' in Arguilla, op. ('iI., I)' 52-53. 18 Hod. Pams-Pe rez, Fernando Zobel (Manila: Eugenio l..opCl Found alion. 1990). pp.1 3 1-I.32. I'J Ci led in Michael Kimmelman, " Museums in a Qunndary: " ht're \ re the Id eals?" The I\etl' lurk Time" 26 \u St.... t 200 1. On Ihe \'ol:'b-;ile: .... WW.II) limes.('om. 2tI Lydia Arguilla. Catalogue to the Ph ilippine Cuitu_,ul Exhibition of PfJlntmgs lind Sf'ulp"" t!s / 953-/95,1 orgu lll l.cd iJllhe Philil>pill(' \ 11 Caller') and span 'ored hy Ihe Philippine 1\'1ission 10 the Un it ed alion~, Ihe Filipino Communi li(":o of e\\ York unci Washington , D.C .. l'1 al.. p.30. 2 1 Cid Heyes. CC H",er,wliofLS wi,h A rt ists (Ma nil a: Cullu ral Ce nte r or the Philippin c~. 1989). )lA9. 22 Ileycs, 10(,. cil. %.1 Emmanuel Torre.<;. "Ferna nd o Zobel's Nt>wc.sl Abslracti ons: Culli gruphl. pace, Black and Whil e" in Ca ta logue to Zobel" one-man show or painlin~ and drowi ng!:i, 8 1 L U1 Gal l(·r'). 14-3 1 Januar'l 1961 . pp. 1-7. I I Calalogue to Zobel's one-man show or paintings al Lu z CaJlC!r')'. 19 Man·h 101 Apri l 1966.

117


EL CHARLES IV

1949 Oil on canvas

30x91.8 em Gift of Alexander Calhoun

119'


BOY WITH KITE

1952 011 on wood 49.5 x 64.5 em Ayala Museum Collection

120


FRUIT STAND

1952 Gouache and oil on paper 64.3 x 49 em Ayala Museum Collection

121


STULTIFERA NAVIS (SHIP OF FOOLS) 1952 Watercolor. tempera and Ink on woven medium weight paper 81.5 x 52.7 em Ayala Museum CollectIOn

!'.oocen orPhilll'plnc All

122


ARMADURA Undated Oil on canvas

99.3 x 46 em Gift of Mercedes Zobel MeMleklng

pjon~UJ

or Philippine An

123


CARROZA

1953 Sengraph 267/290

74 x 58 em Ayala Museum Collection

124


CARROZA 1953 Watercolor and graphite on brown paper 53 x 36.5 em Ayala Museum CollectJon

Pioott'" _of~~ilippin( An

125


CARROZA

1953 Oil on canvas

119x59.5cm Ateneo Art Gallery Collecton

126


SELF PORTRAIT ONTHEWALL

1954 Oil

on canvas

180.3 x 119.4 em Paulino and Hetty Que Coliectlon

127


DESPLUGUE EN GERO NA (FLIGHT TO GERONA) 1956 Mixed media (oil and sand) on canvas 6O.5x91 em Ayala Museum CollectJon

1'lonccrsoflllutillpinc:An

128


UNTITLED (Saota) Undated Oil on canvas 91xl21cm Ayala Corporanon Collection

129


.' UNTITLED (White Syringe Piece) 1957 011 on canvas 106.126.5 em Ayala Museum Collection

130


,', /

'"

/

'. / i ;,,/

"

",;-;:::'

.:~./ / .

,

, "",;',:",

"

~

.

...

......, ......

UNTITLED (Orange and White Saeta)

1957 all on canvas 77.5 x 92.5 on Gift of J.,me and Beatriz Zobel de Ayala

131

;

.,


UNTITLED (Brown Sa.ta)

1957 Oil on canvas

75x90cm Ayala Museum Collection

132


\ \

UNTITLED (Brown Syringe Piece)

Undated Oil on canvas

865 x l32cm Gift of Fernando and Cathenne Zobel de Ayala

133


SPACE # 4

1957 Oil on canvas

89.8 x 44 em Ayala Museum ColiectJon

PionC(,fJ or I'hilippillc An

134


UNTITLED (Saeta # 345) 1960 Oil on canvas

96.5 x 66 em Gift of Femando and Cathenne Zobel de Ayala

135


">

'J'

VASATA

1960 011 on canvas 100 x 75.5 em Ayala Museum ColledJon

136


.PORTRAIT OF EP

1961 ad on canvas 97.5 x 66.8 em Gift of Fernando and Cathenne Zobel de Ayala

Plonec:n or ~hilippint An

137


( \

LA NUTRIA

1962 Oil

on canvas

129.5 x 129.5 em Ayala Corporation Collection

T'ioru:C:l'1'orl'hilipplncAn

138


I

ICARD 1962 Oil on canvas

1375 x 200 em Ayala Corporation Cbllecton

139

/


EL BALCON II 1964

Acrylic on canvas 977 x 97.7 em Ayala Museum Colleruon

140


TENSION LUMINOSA

1964

Acrylic on canvas 79.5 x 79.5 em. Ayal. Museum Collection

141 1


DIALOGO CON PUNTOS 1964

011 on canvas 61.5x61 em Ayala Museum Collection

Plom:er1o(J'hilippinc:An

142


PAISAjE SORDO 1965 all on canvas 60.4.60.4 em Ayala Corporation Collection

143


LUZ PAUDA II Undated 011 on canvas

44x36cm Gift of Jaime and Beatnz Zobel de Ayala

144


LAS SOLEDADES DE LOPE DE VEGA

1968 Oil on canvas 75.5 x 169 em SGV Foundation Collection

145


EL LAGO 1971 011 on canvas

59.5 x 59.5 em Ayala Museum Coliernon

146


QUATRO LlNEAS

1972

a,l on canvas 6Ox60cm Ayala CorporabOn Collection

147


TANTO MaNTA 1973 Acrylic on canvas 100.5 x 100.5 em Ayala Corporation Collection

148


PRIMAVER JUCAR II Undated Oil on canvas

IOOx 130cm Ayala Corporation Collection


HOMENAJE A TEOBALDOBOEHM

1976 Hand -~nted

pnnt

27.4 x 24.5 em Gift of Paula Z. Kirkeby

Pionc:c:n. OrPhlllpplnc: An

150


HOMENAJE A THEODOR BOEHM

1976 Oil on canvas

97.5 x 97.5 em Ayala Museum Collection

lSI '


REFLEJO EN UN ESPEJO 1979 all on canvas 80.5 x 1005 em Ayala Museum Collernon

152


CONTRIBUTORS Rod. Paras-Perez is an artist, critic and a historian. He received the Ph.D. in Art Hist :rt from Harvard University, and MFA in Paintin and MA in Art History from the University of Minnesota. His graphic work is in the collection of the Uffizi Gallery, among other pri vate and public collections. He is a fonner Vice- President of the Art Association of the Philippines and is a gold medalist at tht' International Exhibition of Prints in Florence, Italy. Santiago Alballo Pilar is Professor [ at tl,e College of Fine Arts, University of the Philippines wht'Te he teaches advanced courses in art history and connoisse urship in both undergraduate and graduate programs. The author of many books like Juan Luna: The Filipino as Painter, and Pamana: The Jorge B. Vargas Art Collection, he al

0

wrote

the section on Philippine painting for the multivolume Dictionary ofArt published by Grove Press, London. For hi s pioneering research on Philippine colonial art hi tory, he was honored with the TOYM Award in 1980 and the Araw ng MarT/ ila Award: Tagapag-alaga ng Sining in 1996. He was the

inaugural recipient of the Pura Kala"" Ledesma Profes orial Chair for Art History and Criticism and i the c urren t hold e r of the Ignacio VillamoT Professorial Chai r for Art. Emmanuel Torres is a poet, professor, art critie and curator. He gradua ted from the Ateneo de Manil a University with an A.B degree inlCducalion. He has had a notable career as profes or of English and Comparative Literature, Creative Writing and

Art Theory at th e Ateneo where he taught for four decades until hi retirement in 2002. In tho e years he also erved as the pioneering curator of the Ateneo Art Gallery, which the New York Times has ci ted in 2001 as the "first museum of Philippine modem art." Among his best-known works in art

PINAS HERITAGE 1.1

criticism are Jeepne)' (1978). Kayamanan: 77 Paintings from the Central Bank Collection (1982). 100 Years of Philippine Painting (pasadena C.A , Pacific Asia Museum, 1984), Philippine Abstract Pain.ling (Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1 Pacunayen: An Artist Returns (1998), and Ne. Saguil Landscapes and /nscapes: From the Material World to the Spiritual (2003).


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Pioneers of Philippine art: Luna, Amorsolo, Zobel  
Pioneers of Philippine art: Luna, Amorsolo, Zobel