For its first virtual exhibition of 2021, Ayala Museum presents a virtual restaging of “The Real H.R. Ocampo” in celebration of the National Artist’s 110th birth anniversary. The show, comprised of works from the Paulino and Hetty Que Collection was originally presented at the Ayala Museum in 2013, and curated by the revered antiquarian Ramon Villegas.
The exhibition features 51 paintings, works on paper, and drawings that cover a wide range of Ocampo’s work throughout his life, from his Proletarian period of the 1930s and World War II to the highly chromatic works of pure abstraction in the decade before his death.
During the 1930s to mid-1940s, his art reflected both social realism and formalism when he often depicted poverty-stricken humanity. It was towards the end of World War II where he began to shift towards non-objectivism, with his works becoming more flat, figurative, and organic.
Assembled over a period of 30 years from the artist’s colleagues and selected patrons, with some paintings repatriated from the United States, this collection is one of the largest private holdings of H.R. Ocampo’s work.
Who is H.R.?
Hernando Ruiz Ocampo was born in Manila. His father wanted him to be a lawyer and politician but instead he became a creative and mass media writer, editor, producer, actor, and above all, painter lauded by his peers.
Ocampo also founded the famed Saturday Group, an informal artist collective which endured for several years after his death.
H.R. Ocampo is one of the original Thirteen Moderns group formed in 1938. These artists re-grouped with additional members into the Neo-Realists in the postwar period. From modernism, his work developed into pure abstraction or non-objectivism, with bold colors often described as lyrical and organic by his contemporaries.
His 1969 painting, Genesis, was enlarged into a grand tapestry in the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ main theater and hangs there to this day. The artist considered this work as “the full flowering” of his singular abstract style that seeks to capture the Filipino spirit.
During his lifetime, H.R. Ocampo garnered several distinctions—awards from the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP); citations from the City of Manila; and the first Republic Cultural Award in Painting in 1965. Ocampo posthumously received the Gawad CCP para sa Sining Award in 1979 and the Award of National Artist for Visual Arts in 1991.
The exhibition “The Real H.R. Ocampo” is supplemented by two online events for audiences to better appreciate the artist’s body of work. On March 6, an exclusive virtual guided tour will take viewers through the exhibition with Ayala Museum’s Senior Curator Kenneth Esguerra. Meanwhile on April 24, a virtual lecture with Karen Flores will discuss the life and artistry of the artist.
This exhibition is part of Ayala Museum’s Images of Nation program which showcases works by Filipino artists who have been named National Artists in the Visual Arts. Its primary aim is to share the extraordinary vision and formal excellence embodied in this award.
The Real H.R. Ocampo from the Paulino and Hetty Que Collection will be virtually on show until April 30, 2021. The exhibition and registration for the events can be viewed at ayalamuseum.org/hr-ocampo.