The National Museum of Fine Art in Manila. Archive photo from ABS-CBN News
Culture

100+ Filipino artworks from the 70s are back home after 47 years in New York

The collection is also a portrait of the best in Philippine art in the 70s.
ANCX Staff | Mar 06 2021

They’ve graced the Philippine Center in New York (PCNY) for close to half a century, giving international audiences a glimpse of what Filipino art is like, but it’s now time for a visit home. 

This March, the National Museum of Fine Arts, which has just reopened its doors after nearly a year of being closed due to the pandemic, kickstarts the year-long homecoming exhibition of 115 artworks from the Philippine Center New York’s core collection of 1974. 

The PCNY was established in May 10, 1973 by virtue of Presidential Decree 188, with the intent of building a venue to showcase Philippine arts and culture in the art capital of world, and surely as a bonus, in the global scene. With this mandate in mind, the Center’s inauguration on November 14, 1974 in the Big Apple was highlighted with the display of 120 artworks by Filipino artists on in its walls.

On this wall, works by Roberto Barbadillo and Lilian Hwang. Image courtesy of the National Museum.

The collection was put together by Arturo Luz, now National Artist, and Wili Fernandez, who were tapped by then first lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos to scout and acquire artworks qualified to represent the Filipino identity and artistry. They were supported by artists Mauro “Malang” Santos and Jerry Elizalde Navarro, who would also become a National Artist.

Since being brought together to New York in 1974, it is the first time the paintings are brought back home for an exhibition to give the Filipino public the opportunity to see them. According to the National Museum notes, “These paintings are regarded as characters that identify Filipino artists who relentlessly explore and deviate from various styles, techniques, and media to blend their own artistry into the international art scene during that time.”

Gus Albor works hang on the yellow wall while Raul Isidro works dominate the red wall on the left. Image courtesy of the National Museum.

The core collection 1974 was originally comprised of 120 works of art, 115 of which were loaned by the Philippine Center Management Board to the National Museum of the Philippines for the homecoming exhibition. The paintings included in the special exhibition represent 50 Filipino artists, nine of which have been conferred National Artist honors: Federico Aguilar Alcuaz, Ang Kiukok, Benedicto Cabrera, Jose T. Joya, Cesar Legaspi, Arturo Luz, Vicente Manansala, Jerry Elizalde Navarro and Hernando R. Ocampo.

A wall of prints including works from Manuel Rodriguez Sr. Image from the National Museum

Also featured in the collection are works by Filipino printmakers including Manuel Rodriguez Sr. who is dubbed as the ‘Father of Philippine Printmaking’, with Romulo Olazo, Rodolfo Samonte and Rod Paras-Perez. Filipino modernists Norma Belleza, Lilian Hwang, Lee Aguinaldo, Eduardo Castrillo, Mauro “Malang” Santos, Roberto Chabet, Manuel Baldemor and Solomon Saprid also have works in the show. 

This project is made possible in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Center Management Board – New York, and the Office of Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda. The show can also be accessed through a 360 virtual tour. http://pamana.ph/ncr/manila/pcny360.html

The National Museum of Fine Arts is in the National Museum Complex, Rizal Park, Manila. For more details, email inquiry@nationalmuseumph.gov.ph or call (02) 8527 1218.