Friday, March 6, 2015

Feast Your Eyes on Masterpieces at the National Art Gallery (Manila)

Fundacion Santiago Hall

I was "tickled pink" and gagging with excitement as I made my way inside the National Art Gallery, one of the three parts of the National Museum Complex. This shall be my favorite museum in the Philippines; the home of the national artists. And it took me forever to visit. It's about time that I actually come in close proximity with original art works from names I know so well, albeit from history classes and urban legends.

The National Art Gallery occupies the old congress building. City planner extraordinaire Daniel Burnham (who planned Chicago and Washington DC) intended this as a public library for his 1905 master plan of Manila.

Ralph Harrington Doane, an American architect (he was born in Nova Scotia, but most literature refers to him as American), was commissioned to design the building, assisted by Antonio Toledo. The building took 3 years to complete, from 1918 to 1921.

The center piece of this gallery is Juan Luna's spectacular "Spoliarium" which we earlier featured here: The Spoliarium stands mightily and proudly in a hall where it rightfully occupies - in all its grandeur - the whole space (alongside another big-scale art work).

The whole complex has 10 galleries, including one solely dedicated to the works of Dr. Jose Rizal (Gallery V), including 4 sculptures and one fine drawing from his 1886 Berlin trip. His busts are also on display as sculpted by several different artists.

The whole gallery requires time to truly appreciate its contents: paintings that date as far back as the 1918s, sculptures, all in a variety of media. Familiar names such as Edades, Amorsolo, Tampinco, Cabrera, Joya, Sanso, Ocampo, Francisco, Legaspi, Manansala, Saguil, can be found here. As a disclaimer, some of these photos here have been cropped to get rid of shadows. We've also tried to rid the glare from the spot lights; others were sparingly enhanced where there's low illumination. All these weren't meant to disrespect the artists. Our objective is to share these images "offered" to the Filipino people so as to further entice them to visit this museum.

Please try to make a visit and see these national treasures in their original glory. There were several rooms we weren't able to visit because we didn't have the time, and were rushing to a prior commitment. Sunday visits are free for everyone, foreigners and locals alike. Otherwise, it's a PhP100 entrance fee outside Sunday. The gallery is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM. For more information, call them at (63-2) 527 1215. Remember, you cannot miss the Spoliarium which used to greet the main hallway of Madrid's Museo del Prado. Now, it's been returned home.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Lapu Lapu

Galo B. Ocampo's "New York Lady", 1949, oil on canvas. Painted during his U.S. service assignment as senior assistant in a United Nations division, Ocampo made portraits of people with whom he worked. He contrived the casual attire for her, fashioned after post-war trends. 

Benedicto Cabrera's "Woman in Distress", 2007, acrylic. National Artist Bencab is known for portraying melancholy, dislocation, and despair. 

Jose Joya's "Ethereal Aura", 1977, acrylic.

Juvenal Sanso's "Man with a Hoe", 1950, oil on lawanit board.

Jose Joya's "Hills of Nikko", 1964, oil on canvas.

Jose Joya's "Naiad", 1964, oil on wood.

Hernando R. Ocampo's "Ang Pulubi", 1946, oil on canvas.

Carlos V. Francisco's "Introduction of the First Christian Image", 1956, oil on wood.

Benedicto Cabrera's "Manggagawa:, 1968, oil on canvas.

Cesar Legaspi's "The Memorial", 1966, oil on masonite.

Cesar Legaspi's "Superstition", 1982, oil on canvas.

Vicente S. Manansala's "Planting of the First Cross", 1965, oil on canvas.

Carlos V. Francisco and Vicente Reyes' "A Fragment of a Panel from 500 years of Philippine History", 1953, oil on wood. This was part of a mural measuring 88 meters long and 8 meters wide.

Vicente S. Manansala's "Patuloy ang Buhay", 1948, oil on canvas.

Vicente S. Manansala's "Burial, undated, oil painting on canvas. 

Diosdado M. Lorenzo's "Landscape", undated, oil on board.

Nena Saguil's "Maidenhood", undated, oil on canvas. 

Victorio Edades' "The Sketch", undated. Doesn't it remind you of a familiar iceberg-related epic? 

Carlos V. Francisco's "The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines" is a series of billboard-sized art works and murals. Commissioned in 1953. There's a debate among art aficionados whether to call it a "mural" or simply a "large-scale art work".  Murals are paintings done on the wall and have been conceived as integral to the architecture. They are, thus, unmovable. Botong's series of paintings is movable. In fact it has been relocated from the entrance of the Philippine General Hospital to the museum. Semantics, anyone?

Diosdado M. Lorenzo's "Rape and Massacre in Ermita", 1947, oil on canvas.

Dominador Castaneda's "Death March", 1948, oil on canvas.

Fernando C, Amorsolo's "The Burning of Santo Domingo Church", 1942, oil on canvas. 

Gene Cabrera's "A Tragic Lesson (The Fall of Bataan)", 1957, oil on canvas.

Ireneo Miranda's "Portrait of a Lady", 1952, oil on canvas.

Pablo Amorsolo's "The Mestiza", 1953, oil painting. 

Fernando Amorsolo's "Portrait of Julieta Abad Rufino", 1951, oil on canvas. This is a new acquisition.

Fernando Amorsolo's "Portrait of Speaker Jose P. Laurel, Jr.", 1954, oil on canvas.

Fernando Amorsolo's "Portrait of Francis Burton Harrison", 1938, oil on canvas. Francis Burton Harrison was an American statesman who served in the United States House of Representatives and was appointed Governor-General of the Philippines by President of the United States Woodrow Wilson.

Serafin Serna's "After the Rain", 1948, oil on canvas.

Miguel Galvez's "Pugad Lawin", 1946, oil on canvas.

Jose de Ocampo's "Coronation of Sta. Rita de Casia", 1927, oil on canvas. 

Isabelo L. Tampinco's "Apotheosis of Francisco Balagtas", 1920, concrete.

Felix Santiago's "A Lady", 1918, Plaster of paris.

Check out the National Museum of the Filipino People as well:

Part I
Part II - -

Lobby of the National Art Gallery. 


Sherry Ellis said...

Even the building looks like a work of art! I enjoyed seeing the artwork - especially the portraits.

eye in the sky said...

I guess it these were products from an era of glorious "nation building".

Ramakrishnan said...

Masterpieces indeed. What a magnificent array of sculptures and paintings !

eye in the sky said...

They are, Ram. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi is it possible to use your picture of de Ocampo's Sta. Rita of Casia painting for Wikipedia? Would like to add it among his works. Thank you.

eye in the sky said...

Yes, you may. As long as there's attribution, of course.