art exhibition / culture

Introducing Fernando Amorsolo to a new generation


By Nickie Wang/Manila Standard Today

Fernando Amorsolo self portrait

Fernando Amorsolo self portrait

Visiting art museums and galleries seemingly is something unexciting to children and teenagers of this generation.

They’d rather go to concerts or the movies than spend time in somber halls of a museum gawking at sculptures or paintings they can’t seem to understand. What they enjoy doing most these days is engaging in anything that’s physical, like sports. Yet, more often than not, these youngsters are in a state of catatonia, and looking like they are busy in their own world that is defined by new technology, like gadgets and the Internet.

This preoccupation of the young in gizmos and mind-numbing activities threaten the very existence of the visual arts.

Luckily, art enthusiasts across the country are making the initiative to introduce art appreciation to the young generation through various programs that tend to encourage them to participate and identify the importance of the arts in social development.

From now till April next year, seven of the country’s most distinguished museums will stage the biggest and the rarest art exhibition honoring the first-ever Filipino National Artist Fernando Amorsolo.

Dubbed as His Art, Our Heart, this exhibition presented by The Metrobank Group brings together the Ayala Museum, GSIS Museum, Lopez Museum, Metropolitan Museum, National Museum, Vargas Museum, and the Yuchengco Museum in a unique showcase that will highlight the different facets of the man and his art.

“Art is an extension of our heart. To bring it back home through the press and media, that is what we are hoping to do with this project. This would not only begin on the first day but it has to blossom within the coming months. We are embracing the 21st century technology to reach the young generation,” advocate of corporate and individual social responsibility and project executive director  told the media during the press briefing held at the Peninsula Hotel in Makati City.

“Through our Web site, teachers can upload and download modules that will prepare and introduce students to Fernando Amorsolo. This landmark collaboration of seven museums is focused on introducing our first National Artist to [a] new generation of Filipinos. It’s practically going back to basic,” she disclosed.

It was announced during the media launch that Create Responsive Infants By Sharing (CRIBS) has been chosen to be the beneficiary of the Amorsolo exhibitions.

CRIBS is a non-government organization operated by a committed group of professionals, trained staff and volunteers. It seeks to provide shelter and  residential care to children who are abandoned, surrendered, neglected and sexually abused.

The art’s seven

Palay Maiden (Ayala Museum)

Palay Maiden (Ayala Museum)

Fernando Amorsolo is said to have painted more than 10,000 pieces that reflect his mastery in the use of light and his craftsmanship evident in every stroke in his canvasses that generally describe the rural people in their high spirits.

“Women are painted like no other did,” a curator from the Ayala Museum said. As a tribute to the artist’s brilliance, The Ayala Museum will feature Amorsolo’s Maiden Concealed and Revealed from Oct. 23 to March 8. The exhibition will survey Amorsolo’s rendering of women as a means of following his career. It will showcase country maidens from the American period and Amorsolo’s studies of nudes from the post-war years.

The GSIS Museum of Art is joining the Amorsolo Retrospective from Oct. 2 to Dec. 20, with the theme on rituals. Entitled Rituals and Amorsolo, the exhibition will underline how rituals reflect values, beliefs, and shared knowledge among members of a society. The six values were deduced, namely: pagkamadasalin (piety), pagsisikap (hard work), pagkamasayahin (cheerfulness), pagkalinga (nurturing), barkadahan (friendship), and kalinisan (cleanliness).

At the Lopez Museum

At the Lopez Museum

In its attempt to re-introduce a more multi-dimensional Amorsolo to today’s artists, readers, and viewers, Lopez Memorial Museum presents Tell Tale: The Artist as Storyteller opening on Sept. 24 and will end on April 4. The displays will try to touch on notions having to do with intertextuality or the shaping of texts’ meanings by other texts by exploring how Amorsolo partnered up with figures.

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila will transform the Tall Galleries into a harvest field of Amorsolo rice-related pieces that portray the different stages of paddy preparation, planting, transplanting, harvesting, and milling, among others, as well as some of his outstanding landscape paintings. Philippine Staple: The Land, The Harvest and the Maestro is on view from Sept. 26 to Jan. 13.

At the National Art Gallery of the National Museum of the Philippines, from Sept. 25 to Jan. 15, art aficionados will have the chance to see Amorsolo’s works that speak of how an artist contemplates a sense of the every day, which translates into a moment of culture. The exhibition will show an angle of the artistic practice of Amorsolo through drawings, portraits, and memorabilia.

From Sept. 23 to Nov. 16, Jorge B. Vargas Museum’s Amorsolo, His Contemporaries and Pictures of War: Capturing Anxieties will feature the works of Amorsolo and his contemporaries spanning World War II (1941-1945) and the immediate post-war years (1946-1947). This exhibition invites the viewer to reenter these images and empathize with what Filipino artists and Vargas experienced during these periods.

The Yuchengco Museum’s Mukhang Tsinoy: Portraits by Fernando Amorsolo presents portraits commissioned by Filipino-Chinese families, some of which will be shown to the public for the first time. The Ancestral Gallery will open its doors on Oct. 1 and will close on Jan. 17.

Who is Fernando Amorsolo?

“During his lifetime, my father and his prolific body of works were showered with many honors and awards. He was known as an artist whose extraordinary abilities gave life to many colorful and beautiful facets of Philippine society,” recounted Sylvia Amorsolo-Lazo, the National Artist’s daughter, during her speech at the media launch.

She added that his father found beauty in the ordinary. Rather than paint objects of opulence, glorious scenes of victory in battle, he depicted the common folk like the farmers, vendors, and young women who went about their daily tasks and chores.

Amorsolo was born in Paco, Manila on May 30, 1892. Just like any other artists and contemporary artists, he encountered difficulties to make both ends meet. At the age of 13, as a budding painter, he helped augment his family’s meager income by drawing postcards for a bookstore.

His first recorded win at a competition was at the Bazar Escolta organized by the Asociacion Internacional de Artistas in 1908. He won second prize for Leyendo Periodico. He made illustrations for various Philippine publications including Severino Reyes’ first novel in Tagalog, Parusa ng Diyos (God’s Punishment) and Iñigo Ed. Regalado’s Madaling Araw (Dawn). To earn more money, he also provided illustrations for the religious Pasion books. In 1914, he graduated with medals from the University of the Philippines.

His “Rice Planting” (1922) was a staple of tourist brochures and his style became most sought-after by American soldiers who wanted something uniquely Filipino to bring back home to the United States.

One such client, Capt. Robert Kennedy, brought home a few Amorsolo pieces and had them framed at the Art Center Gallery in New York. The gallery owners inquired about the artist which led to Amorsolo’s first one-man show in New York. Of the 40 pieces, 24 were immediately purchased.

His national and international successes made him a household name. Among his recognitions are: gold medal from the Unesco National Commission (1959); the Rizal Pro Patria Award (1961); Honorary Doctorate in the Humanities from the Far Eastern University (1961); Diploma of Merit from the University of the Philippines (1963); Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award from the City of Manila (1963); the Republic CulturalHeritage Award (1963); and the very first National Artist Award four days after he passed away on April 24, 1972 at the age of 79.

Marca Demonio at the Metropolitan Museum

Marca Demonio at the Metropolitan Museum

As a commercial artist, his most popular creation was the “Marca Demonio” label, which is pasted on the bottles of the world’s largest-selling gin, the Ginebra San Miguel (drinking gin is not a good way to introduce Amorsolo to young generation, however, a good trivia for them to know).

Follow author on Twitter: http://twitter.com/knicknocks

10 thoughts on “Introducing Fernando Amorsolo to a new generation

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  2. ed:

    thank you for visiting my blog and for reading my fernando amorsolo article. the national artist is such an inspiration and his works are definitely national treasures. the virtuous master continues to inspire not just art enthusiasts but budding artists as well. through them, his legacy lives on.

  3. Fernando Amorsolo was a titan when I was growing up, and continues to be a beacon of inspiration for all Filipinos. I wish the younger generations will learn more from the legacy of this true Filipino Artist. I appreciate very much your efforts in this regard.

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