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Artist Carlos Francisco, National Artist Cesar LegaSPL DiosdadO Lorenzo, Anita

MagSaYSaY0 Galo OcamPO, National Artist Hernando R. OcampO, Jose Pardo,

and Ricarte Purugganan. These artists explored variouS mediums, techniques,

and themes that were at that time considered anew” and even “shocking” to

those. who were more used to images that are closer to how they looked like in

reality. These audiences found it difficult to understand the Thirteen Moderns’

tendency toward distortion, exaggeration, abstraction, and their personal use of

color, shapes, textures and other expressive elements to be discussed in Unit 2.

Japanese Occupation (1941—1945)

However, under the Japanese Occupation of Manila the Modern Art project

would slow down in pace. Early moderns and conservatives alike continued to

produce art and even participated in KALIBAPI (Kapisaflafl so pagiilingkod ng

Bagong Pilipinas) sponsored art competiti0fl In 1943 and 1944, Purugganan

and Francisco won KAUBAPI awards, respectively. Nevertheless, art production

once again tilted to fulfill the agenda and demands of the new colonial order. The

Japanese forces led the formation of the Greater East Asia 0Prosperity Sphere,

a propaganda movement that sought to create a Pan-Asian identity that rejected

Western traditions. Slàgans such as “Asia for Asians” made its way to the public

through posters ephemera’ comics, and Japanese sponsored publications such as

Shin-Seiki, ánd in newspapers and magazines such as LiwaYW0YaI’ Tri bune.The

production of images texts, and music underwent scrutinY. Expressions deemed

subversive or anti.Japanese led to torturous 0equeflces even death. Regulating

the information campaign was the Japanese Information Bureau or HodObU, which

employed local artists and cultural workers. In music, the composer National Artist

Felipe P. de Leon was said to have been “commanded at the point of the gun” to
write Awit sa Paglikha ng Ba gong Pilipiflas. Declared as the anthem specifically

for the periods it conveyed allegiance to the nation reared in East Asia, where Japan

was actively asserting its political power.

If art was strictly policed during the Second World War, it brings us little

surprise that AmorSOlo’S paintings many of which showed little or no indication

of war’s atrocities, continued to be favored. Examples include Harvest Scene, 1942

and Rice planting, 1942. These are paintings that evoked a semblance of peace,

idealized work in the countryside, and promoted values of docile industriousness.

Such a mood is echoed by Sylvia La Torre’s hit song Sa KabUkira n, written in

Tagalog in the 19405 by the acclaimed composer Levi Celerio (National Artist for

Music and ,Literature, awarded 1997). La Torre’s operatic singing along with an

energetic tempo offered an escape from the troubles of the war. commissioned

portraits of high officials such as His ExcellenCY, Jorge B. Vargas, Chairman of the

philippine Executive CommiSsiofl, 1943 and “lndepende this Year,” said His

Exce/lencY, Premier Tojo, 1943 were also produced at this time.

Genre paintings were the most widely produced particularlY those that

presented a neutral relationship between the Filipinos and the Japanese through

works that showed the normaliW of daily living. The colonizers also preferred

works that showed indigenous and pre-coloflial traditions. Portraits representing

different ethnOliflgutic groups were produced and this is exemplified by Crispin


Lopez’s Study of an Aeta, 1 94 Sces from the war were also made,

the imagery remained neutral, on the aesthetic qualities of ruin

and disaster. Take Amorsogy5 Born bing the Intendencia 1942 and Ruins of the

Manila Cathedral, 1945 as exampl, they draw attention to the elegant handling
of value in the billows of smoke or the pile of ruins rather than the urgency
of the

disaster itself. Works which depicted the horrors of war such as Diosdado

Atro cities in Paco and Dominador Casta ñed&s Doomed Family were painted


Neo -Realism Abstraction, and Other Modern Art Styles

Alice uillermo recounts how artists and writers reflected about national

identity as Filipinos were rising from the ashe5 of war. This search entailed

explorations in subject matter, content, and form, as well as debates between

art for art’s sake and art that exposed the “true social conditions” of the

Nevertheless, the period looked promising for the developm of modern art.

A group of artists who exemplified a new kind of modernism emerged, and this

was observed by the artist-writer E. Aguilar Cruz who named the movement Neo-

Realism. Using modernist figuration, many of these artists explored folk


and also crafted commentaries on the urban condition and the effects of the

Manansala Legaspi, and HR Ocampo were among the National Artists associated

with Neo-Realism

Manansala’s The Beggars, 1952 consists of the image of two women with

emaciated bodies, their forlorn faces set against a dark background capturing

the dreariness of poverty. Many of Manansala’s Paintings are characterized by

transparent cubism, a style markj by the soft of figures using

transparent planes instead of hard-edged ones, as exemplified in the Painting

Tuba Drinkers, 1954, Legaspi’s Gadgets II, 1949 depicts half-naked men almost

engulfed in the presence of machines. Their elongated limbs and exaggera

muscles indicate the hardship of their labor; their expressionless faces and

repetitive actions rob themof their humanity as they function like machines.
of Legaspi’s flures in this period are distorted by his elongating or making

forms in a well-ordered composition, as seen in the painting Bar Girls, 1947.


Ocampo The Contrast, 1940, discussed Lesson 1 is a distinct figuratjv work


exposes dire human conditions amid the backdrop of modernity Ocampo is more

recogniz however, for his paintings that combine geometric and biomorphic

shapes with vibrant colors. His Painting Genesis, 1968, which puts together

Colored shapes, became the basis of the Stunning tapesty hanging at the Main

Theater or Bu1 wagang Nicanor Abelardo of the CCP. Other artists identified

Neo-Realism are Ramo,, Estella, Victor Oteyza, and Romeo Tabuena

32 contemrap, Phil ¡ppin Arts from the Regions

Support institutions like the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) were

established in 1948 under the leadership of artist Punta Kalaw-Ledesma; while


Philippine Art Gallery (PAG), which provided a venue and laid out early

for modern art, was put up in 1951 through the efforts of the artist-writer

Arguilla, and others. Also around this time, when there was little support
for the

graphic arts, the printmaking workshop of Manuel Rodriguez, Sr. was opened.

Part of AAP’s initiative is to sponsor contests to encourage art production.


awardees include the Cebu-based Martino Abellana for his work Job Was Also

Man, and Fernando Zobel’s iconic painting Carroza. Both were awarded by the

AAP in 1953. Two years later, the rift between the “conservatives” or those

subscribe to the Amorsolo and Tolentino style of painting and the “Moderns
by Edades would resurface in the AAP art competition as most of its winners

modernist inclinations. Feeling that the judges’ decisions were biased, the

who continued to practice in the conservative tradition walked out as a form


protest and exhibited their works on the streets. These artists were

more popularly associated with their studios lining the Street of Mabini,

Today, they are also referred to as Mabini painters.

The 1950s also saw the Construction of modern architectural structures,

particularly churches that modified or veered away from traditional cruciform

designs. Within the UP Diliman campus, examples include the Church of Holy

Sacrifice, 1955 (to be discussed in detail in Lesson 5) and the Church of the

Lord, which both employed concrete as primary material and experimented

with rounded or parabolic forms. Another remarkable example is the Chapel of

St. Joseph the Worker in Victorias, Negros, built by the Czech-American


Figure 2.6. Cesar Legaspi, Gadgets Il


Anton in Raymond it fearjres a sg rnul of Christ by the FilipinoAmerican

artist Alfonso Ossorio. Referred to as the Angry Christ, the n ural delivers

overload, filling up the wails and ceiiing of the altar space. Distinct from

Christflgures, the expressive use of co4oç the jagged angularity of the


and the use of flame-like moti bang to mind the Visual ectacle of Bacolod’s

Masskara festival. The Church is a Curious combination of modern architecture


a minimalist character and modern oainting expressive of folk sensibilities

‘Igure 2.8. Arturo Luz, StreetMu5,5

Another strand of Modern Art that emerged more definitively durinc

the period was abstraction. This generally Consists of simplified forms,


avoided mimetic (exact copy) representation it is sometjmes referred to as

non-representational or non-objective art as it emphasized the relationshI5

of line, color, and space or the flatness of the canvas rather than an
illusion of

threedin.)en5joflality Most of the early practitioners inclined toward


received training abroad or were influenced by the growth of the said moveme

in international circles. Solid geometric shapes and color fields are seen

the works of Constancio Bernardo and particular phases of Lee Aguinal0’5

practice The abstrae expressionist style that plays up the aspect of

spontaneity ir

the process of making is exemplified in the works of National Artist Jose

Joya witF

his thick and often vigorous application of paint. Fernando Zobel’s Paintings

used syringes to apply paint. This allowed him to produce works that balanced

produced works that balanced the element of chance and restraint. On the

hand, what was typical of Arturo Luz’s works is the use of stark linear
elements a

seen in Street Musician5 1952 which pared down the figures into lines and

shapes. Nena SaguiJ who took her art Studies at the UP, in the United States,

in Spain, is known for her canvases filled with circles and cell-like forms,
Earlier in

her career, she did figuraiv works with rotund features, such as in the

Cargad5 1951.

-. n, ,, •_.

34 Contemp., PhiIippin Arts from the Regions