Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City: A Roll Call of Atenean Modernist Visual Artists

The Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) has always emphasized the study of Humanities, in all their academic offerings, in its thrust to forge well-rounded men and women. This can be exemplified by the Ateneo Art Gallery (AAG), located at the Areté, along Katipunan Avenue, in Quezon City. In the AAG is a vast collection of modernist and contemporary art, which was started when the artist and educator, Fernando Montojo Zóbel de Ayala (1924–1984), to the ADMU. Although the University of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas are often highlighted as the schools that have honed many of the artists, especially for the masters who developed Philippine Modern Art, very little is known about the Ateneans who have contributed to the Philippine modernism.

Fernando Montojo Zóbel de Ayala (1924–1984) is a Spanish-Filipino born in Manila; and he is noted as the primary patron of the Ateneo Art Gallery, since he donated his collection of artworks in 1961. Aside from the being a businessman, educator, art collector, and museum founder; Zobel de Ayala was part of the second wave of modernists, who now dominated the art scene in the 1950s. His paintings were abstracted images of Philippine scenes, often rendered in large color brushstrokes. In 1983 he was awarded the Medalla de Oro al Mérito en las Bellas Artes by King Juan Carlos of Spain, and in 2008 he received (posthumously) the Presidential Medal of Merit.

Arturo Rogerio Dimayuga J. Luz (born1926) was born in Manila; and he was a Neo Realist, whose abstracted works gave a play to everyday objects and scenes. His Luz Gallery has helped launch the next generations of artists. Arturo has held many important positions in the world of art, such aspresident of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) in 1952, executive director of the Design Center of the Philippines (1973-1987), director, Metropolitan Museum of Manila (1976-1986), and director of Museum of Philippine Art (1977-1985). Luz represented the Philippines in various exhibitions abroad, including the Arte de America y España in Europe in 1963, Sao Paolo Biennale in 1974, the Tokyo International Print Biennale in 1974, and the eighth British International Print Biennale in 1984. Aside from local and international exhibitions, Arturo also received accolades such as the Republic Cultural Heritage Award for Painting (1966), the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award for Painting (1980), the Order of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government (1978), the Gawad CCP para sa Sining (1989), and the National Artist for Visual Art in 1997.

Federico Aguilar Alcuaz (1932-2011) took up law at the Ateneo de Manila, then decided to pursue the arts at the University of the Philippines, and later on at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. For a while, Alcuaz would stay in Germany, Spain and Czechoslovakia; yet he would still return to the Philippines and participate in group exhibitions. First known for his tapestries and abstract work, Alcuaz would later show impressionistic figurative works that created a whole new romantic dimension to his art. As a student, Alcuaz was already winning several painting competitions, he would later win international competitions such as the 1st Prize of Montcada Award Barcelona (1957); the Francisco Goya Award in Cercle Maillol Barcelona (1958); and the 2nd Prize Prix Vancell in the 4th Biennial of Terrassa of Barcelona (1964).For his accomplishments, Alcuaz was honored the Decoration of Arts, Letters and Sciences by the French Government in 1964, the Order of the French Genius also in 1964, the Republic Cultural Heritage Award of the  Philippines in 1965, the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award from the City of Manila in 1966, and National Artist of the Philippines in 2009.

Roberto “Bobby” Rodríguez Chabet (1937-2013) is acknowledged as the father of Philippine conceptual art. Taking on his mother’s maiden name, Chabet first took his collegiate architectural studies at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) College of Architecture and Fine Arts (CAFA), but his interactions with the fine arts students brought on his own experiments in the visual arts. While regularly exhibiting, Chabet first taught architecture at the UST-CAFA, but transferred to the University of the Philippines (U.P.) College of Fine Arts (CFA) in 1970, where he would be influential in the development of several generations of artists. In 1967, Chabet became the first curator of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), and help expand the collection of the institution, during his three years of service. At the CCP, Chabet would institute the Thirteen Artist Award, which would honor the achievements of outstanding young artists, by exhibiting their works at the CCP. After his stint at the CCP, Cahbet would go on to curate many significant exhibitions locally and internationally. For his body of works and influence in the art scene, Chabet was honored with the 1972 Republic Cultural Heritage Award, the 1972 Araw ng Maynila Award for the Visual Arts, and the 1998 Centennial Honor for the Arts.

David Cortez Medalla (born 1938) is an expressionist painter, performance artist and conceptual kinetic sculptor; who lived in the cities of Manila, New York City, and Paris, before finally settling in London. Taking his basic education at the Ateneo de Manila, University of the Philippines High School, and St. Mary’s School in Sagada, Medalla would take his formal art education at the Columbia University in New York. Medalla first received international recognition in 1972, when he was invited to participate in the DOCUMENTA 5, in Kassel, Germany. This would lead to many international exhibitions, as well as lecturing and teaching positions in the Philippines’ Silliman University and the University of the Philippines, the Paris’ Sorbonne University and the École des Beaux-Arts, the New York Museum of Modern Art and the New York Public Library, the Netherlands’ Universities of Amsterdam and Utrecht, the Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, and the English universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Canterbury, Warwick, Southampton, Slade School of Fine Art, and at St. Martin’s. Since settling in London, Medalla has been active in the European art scene by co-founding the Signals Gallery in the 1960s, initiated the international organization of multi-media artists the Exploding Galaxy in 1967, chaired the Artists for Democracy from 1974 to 1977, directed the London Fitzrovia Cultural Centre, and founded and directed the London Biennale in 1998. For his distinct pieces and tireless work in the arts, Medalla gained many international awards, such as from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Jerome Foundation of America.

Eduardo De Los Santos Castrillo (1942-2016) is a noted sculptor, who had defined the second wave of modernist sculpture in the Philippines. Castrillo graduated from the UST Fine Arts program, and first started at first as an illustrator for publishing before embarking into a career in public sculpture. In the course of time, Castrillo has represented the Philippines in many exhibitions abroad, and has also been commissioned to create monuments all over the country and overseas. He received the TOYM Award for sculpture (Ten Outstanding Young Men) in 1970, the 13 Artists Award by the CCP in 1970, Outstanding Makati Resident in 1971, Outstanding Sta. Ana Resident in 1974, Outstanding Son of Binan Award in 1980 from the Maduro Club, Outstanding Son of Laguna Award in 1980 from the Laguna Lion’s Club, Adopted Son of Cebu in 1996, the Far Eastern University Green and Gold Artist Award in 1998, and the Most Outstanding Citizen Award of Quezon City.

Jaime de Guzman (born 1942) is a painter and potter, who hails from the province of Laguna. As a painter, de Guzman is known for his mural-size surrealist paintings that are commentaries on Philippine society. As a child, De Guzman graduated from the Ateneo de San Pablo, and would move to Manila to study economics at the Ateneo de Manila. However, the call to create art grew too strong, and De Guzman would take his formal art studies at the University of Santo Tomas (UST). Taking a hiatus from his studies, De Guzman would travel around the country, before returning to Manila and enroll at the University of the Philippines. After graduation, De Guzman would travel to Mexico to study mural painting under masters, such as David Alfaro Siqueiros (José de Jesús Alfaro Siqueiros, 1896-1974). In Mexico, De Guzman met the American potter, Anne Polkinghorn, whom he eventually married and moved back to the Philippines, to raise their family. Polkinghorn introduced De Guzman to pottery, and the family would move from Liliw in Laguna Province, Candelaria in Quezon Province, and Sagada in the Mountain Province; to work with local clays and teach local communities how to create their own pottery.

Virgilio “Pandy” Arguelles Aviado (born 1944) is a printmaker and painter, from Manila. Aviado first experience in art education was through his teacher Araceli Limcaco-Dans (born 1929), at the Ateneo de Manila. Aviado would continue his formal art education at the Philippine Women’s University, and apprentice in printmaking under Manuel Rodriguez Sr., while enrolled in school. Aviado would take graduate studies at the Ateneo de Manila, and then continue his studies in printmaking at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid; and he would enforce his skills by studying under under Dimitri Papagueorguiu (1928-2016), Antonio Lorenzo (1922-2009), and the brothers José Luis Sánchez-Toda (1901-1975) and Alfonso López Sánchez-Toda (1914-2002); and he participated in workshops organized by the Museo del Arte Abstrato Español, the Smithsonian Experimental Workshop in Printmaking, Grupo Quince, and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Returning to the Philippines, Aviado would be active in both the local art scene, where he served as the director of the Coordinating Center for Visual Arts of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the president of the president of the Philippine Association of Printmakers (PAP), and the president of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP). Aviado would also serve as the College of Fine Arts at the Philippine Women’s University. For his body of works that have been exhibited locally and internationally, Aviado has garnered numerous awards; including the CCP’s Thirteen Artist Award in 1970, the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award from the City of Manila in 1988, and the Araw ng Maynila Award for Graphic Arts in 2009.

Raymundo Pidad Albano, aka Ray B. Bacarra (1947-1985), is an abstract painter, printmaker and conceptual artist, from Manila. Albano took his collegiate studies at the Ateneo de Manila University, taking English literature. However, his frequent interactions with Roberto Chabet (1937-2013) led to his own foray into the visual arts. In 1970, Albano started working at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), where he would design the sets, lights and posters for the Bulwagang Gantimpala theater productions. Albano would later serve as the director of the Visual Arts Department of the CCP, where he would curate and promote conceptual art in many major exhibitions. While as director, Albano would launch the bimonthly CCP art publication, the Philippine Art Supplement. As a writer, Albano wrote for several publications, and was honored with the John Mulry award for Literary Excellence by the Ateneo. As an artist, Albano was focused on the process of art making, and not the final image; which would build an eclectic body of diverse works and media, and garner him the CCP’s Thirteen Artists award, in 1970.

25 1992 Leo Rialp - Parable I, Ateneo Art Gallery
1992 Leo Rialp – Parable I, Ateneo Art Gallery

Leo Rialp (born 1947) is a film and theater actor, and a television and film director; who has also recently dabbled into the painting. Rialp’s passion for the performing arts started in his days at the Ateneo de Manila; where he was trained and directed by Fr. Horacio de la Costa (1916-1977) and Fr. James Bertram Reuter (1916-2012) at the grade school Ateneo Children’s Theater (ACT), by Onofre Pagsanghan (born 1927) at the high school Dulaang Sibol (Theater of Growth), and by the National Artists Rolando Santos Tinio (1937-1997) and Salvador Bernal (1945-2011) at the college Ateneo Dramatics Society and the Ateneo Experimental Theater (now called Tanghalang Ateneo). After graduation Rialp would act in theater, including productions of Repertory Philippines and Dulaang UP. If not in the theater, Rialp work for film director in front and behind the camera, as he would apprentice under Tino, Bernal, Nestor Torre, and Tony Mabesa (born 1935). Contemporaries Noel Trinidad (born 1941) and Juan Ledesma Johnny Manahan (born 1947) also Rialp master his craft as an actor, and later a director.

Maria Agnes Almario Arellano (born 1949) first pursued psychology with degrees from the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo de Manila. Then she went on to explore other interests such as French language and civilization at the Sorbonne in Paris before returning to the University of the Philippines, and enrolled at the College of Fine Arts. Arellano soon developed a surreal form of sculpture, that were internal reflects of womanhood, myth and society. The tragic death of her parentsand sister in a fire that razed her ancestral home greatly affected her, and influenced her art. She sculptures in synthetic marble reflect a darkness, that evoke pain and even questioning of self. In memory of family, Arellano decided to set up the nonprofit Pinaglabanan Galleries on the site of the ancestral home. In later exhibitions, she would continue to explore themes revolving around their deaths. Arellano would go on to represent the Philippines in many international events, such as the 1986 Berlin Biennale, and a 1996 Freeman Fellowship Residency in Vermont Studio Center. Arellano would also garner many awards, such as the Outstanding Alumna Award in the Field of Art by the St. John’s Academy in 1990, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Thirteen Artists Award of 1988, and the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan for Pinaglabanan Galleries by the City of Manila in 1988.

00 2014-15 Bim Bacaltos - The West Discovers the Philippines I
2014-15 Bim Bacaltos – The West Discovers the Philippines I, Sining Saysay Collection, Araneta Center

Armand “Bim” B. Bacaltos (born 1949) is a painter of surreal landscapes, who hails from Manila. Bacaltos completed his elementary and secondary studies at the Ateneo de Manila, before enrolling at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Fine Arts (CFA). In his senior year, Bacaltos founded the UP Artists’ Circle Fraternity with his peers, which still stands as an influential organization in the CFA. Since he was a student, Bacaltos was winning many local art competitions, which he continued after graduation. Bacaltos also worked as an illustrator for various periodicals and books, which he still does from time to time. After exhibiting locally and internationally, Bacaltos tried his hand in the international scene, by migrating to New Jersey, USA. After several years, Bacaltos returned to the Philippines, and has started teaching at the UP CFA.

27 2000s Boysie Villavicencio - Fluid Eyes, UP Bahay ng Alumni, University of the Philippines
2000s Boysie Villavicencio – Fluid Eyes, UP Bahay ng Alumni, University of the Philippines

RenatoBoysieVillavicencio (born 1950) is a noted fashion designer, writer and painter, who graduated from the U.P. School of Fine Arts. Villavicencio is also newspaper columnist on arts and culture for the Malaya Newspaper. Villavicencio is the present chair of the Erehwon Art Foundation, which holds local and international arts and cultural events that reflect the Philippine spirit. Aside from his work on arts and culture, Villavicencio is also a champion Whippet breeder, and he is the assistant treasurer/director of the Philippine Canine Club Inc. (PCCI).

Jose Tence Ruiz (born 1958) was born in Manila; and his colorful multi-media installations stand as commentaries to issues in Philippine society. A graduate of the Ateneo de Manila; Ruiz has represented the Philippines in various international events, of which the most notable is the 2016 Venice Biennale. In 1988, he was recognized with the Thirteen Artist Award by the CCP.

29 2017 Areté, Ateneo de Manila University
2017 Areté, Ateneo de Manila University

With the exception of Boysie Villavicencio and Agnes Arellano, the works of all the above-mentioned artists can be viewed in the collection of the Ateneo Art Gallery. The next set of artists to be featured are those Ateneans who have carved their own niche in the contemporary art scene, and give a glimpse of Philippine Postmodern Art.

00 2017 Areté, Ateneo de Manila Map


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