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Filipino Moderns

In 1928 Victorio Edades introduced modernism to the Philippines with his work, “The Builders”. Incorporating a new sense of imagery to local art practice, Edades bequeathed to Philippine art a new direction. A similar development took place in the Lopez Museum’s collection when Roberto Lopez bequeathed his personal collection of more than 45 art works to the museum after his death in 1992. The acquisitions programme went into full throttle with the late Eugenio Lopez, Jr. bought modern works for the museum collection. Both men set the foundation for the museum’s fresh direction.

Contemporary Art is an admixture of developing and shifting cultures. It is no sudden thing that one man conjured in a moment of greatness; it is something borne upon him by social conditions upon which he, as an individual artist, imposes on his own society. It belongs to a developing scale of social values, values which have been assimilated and summed up in the adult individual and to which the artist in turn adds his own values to be accepted by others. The history of contemporary Philippine art cannot be disassociated from the contemporary history of the country and its social context.

Art for Juvenal Sanso became an exorcism. A road to self-assertion. When in 1951 he sailed for Rome as a young man eager to see the world. Instead. he encountered his past and was driven more and more into an inevitable meeting with himself: his longing for acceptance, his wartime nightmares, his rollercoaster life, the shards of his father’s broken dream (who wanted his son to follow in his footsteps and take over the family firm), and a pocketful of demons to keep at bay…[Sanso]

Perfection was a matter of habit for Vicente Manansala bred in him by an aunt who regarded everything as an opportunity to practice one’s excellence. He believes excellence is a habit that should not come as a single act. With everything that one does must come the determination to do one’s best with it. It was an outlook which bore the seed of a great conflict in Manansala’s artistic vision. His studies in Paris gave primacy to the abstract element in art not only seen in the Cubist idiom he assimmilated but also in the very temper of his time, among the Abstract Expressionists particularly…[Manansala]

Fernando Zobel, seminal figure in Philippine modern art of the Fifties and early Sixties, is an artist and intellectual par excellence whose main artistic passion is order and serenity, whose paintings would rather whisper than shout, actually represents the exact opposite of today’s youthful values: brassily assertive, happily at home with chaos and quite suspicious of anyone above thirty. To stand apart, to be different, is, however, something Zobel easily took in stride. For while his paintings are apparently so much in step with the modernistic voice of his time, they are “conceptually and technically” against the prevailing mode of the Fifties and the Sixties. Perhaps he even relished the difference?almost, with a Yo El Rey, I am the king, I am the master of my vision equanimity…[Zobel]

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