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The Amorsolo Retrospective: Lopez Museum’s Tell-tale: The Artist as Storyteller, Amorsolo as Co-author on September 24, 2008

Selected illustrations by the young Fernando Amorsolo from 1909 to 1924 go on exhibit in Tell-tale: The Artist as Storyteller, Amorsolo as Co-author, the Lopez Museum’s unique contribution to the Amorsolo Retrospective project.

IMAGE: Written by eminent Tagalog writer Lope K. Santos and illustrated by a young Fernando Amorsolo, “Ganito Pala sa Maynila” was a popular comic strip which satirized the social issues during the American occupation of the Philippines, serialized in the Bagong Lipang Kalabaw magazine from 1922 to 1924. The main characters are: Uma, the kindly provinciano who went to Manila to study; Sela, Uma’s sweetheart in the province; and Mery, the liberal girl whom Uma married (1922 and 1923)

The National Artist for the Fine Arts had collaborated with early 20th century writers–Tagalog novelists Iñigo Regalado and Severino Reyes, editor Lope K. Santos and writer-educator Camilo O. Osias.

In this exhibit, the readers would recognize both the texts and their accompanying illustrations as creating certain narratives – critical or sympathetic, given the politics of the writers.

Amorsolo illustrated the first Tagalog novel of Regalado Madaling Araw (1909) and likewise rendered drawings in the cover of Liwayway magazines where Regalado served as editor. Amorsolo’s illustrations for Reyes’ first Tagalog novel Parusa ng Diyos (1911) were collaborations with the author and with other artists–Irineo Miranda and N. Reyes–done when he was a student. Osias’ Philippine Readers (1924) used in the primary grades were illustrated by Amorsolo, bringing to life the stories of virtues and examples of good and proper behavior.

Behavior, particularly of those in the urban setting, is shown up in the comic strip Ganito Pala sa Maynila, a popular comic strip during the American occupation of the Philippines written by Santos and illustrated by Amorsolo. The comic strip, serialized in the satirical magazine Bagong Lipang Kalabaw magazine from 1922 to 1924, was the second to have been published in the Philippines, the first being Kiko at Angge published in sister magazine Telambang a few months ahead.

Manila society of the early 1920s was unreservedly portrayed in the comic strip and became a topic of conversation in many social circles. The success of the story lies in the vivid portrayal of the social ills of Manila and the moral lessons from the simple but sincere provinciano who was innocently caught in the gay and troubling Manila society of his time.

The Amorsolo Retrospective aims to take another look at the country’s first National Artist, Fernando Amorsolo, through a four-month multi-venue exhibition of his finest works. The exhibition at the Lopez Museum opens on September 24, 2008 and will run until April 4, 2009.

The Lopez Memorial Museum is located at the ground floor of Benpres Building, Exchange Road corner Meralco Avenue, Pasig City. Museum days and hours are Mondays-Saturdays, 8am-5pm, except holidays. Contact Fanny at 631-2417 for more information or email