10 Must-See Masterpieces at the Ateneo Art Gallery

You only have until June 16!

(SPOT.ph) Viewing pieces from an art collection is often a rare opportunity, given that most are private, never on display, and not accessible to the public. It is for this reason that Ateneo Art Gallery in Quezon City relocated to a bigger and better venue at the university’s Areté in 2017. The three-floor space has enough room to exhibit the gallery's massive collection by various Philippine artists, which started as a 200-piece donation by Fernando Zobel in the 1960s and then grew in size through gifts by benefactors. This comprehensive survey of Philippine art history is on display at the Ateneo Art Gallery until June 16 in an exhibition called Love It and Leave It: A Legacy of Gifts to the Ateneo Art Gallery. Admission is free.

These are the masterpieces you need to see before the exhibit closes:

“Carroza” (1953)

PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
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Artist: Fernando Zobel
Location: The Foyer, 1/F

This polymer-on-wood work by Fernando Zobel is sure to catch your eye as the intricate golden frame and the yellow, gray, and gold hues stand out against a blue wall. Placing first at the Art Association of the Philippines Painting Competition in 1953, this piece paved the way for Zobel to be introduced as an artist to the local art community apart from being an art patron.

“Granadean Arabesque” (1958)

PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
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Artist: Jose Joya
Location: The Foyer, 1/F

Who wouldn’t want to see a piece by a pioneer of abstract expressionism in the Philippines? Jose Joya, in this oil-on-canvas work, stays true to his style—vibrantly colored, inspired by Philippine landscapes, with bold calligraphic brushstrokes. This work is said to be inspired by Joya’s stay in Granada, Spain. Joya was University of the Philippines – Diliman’s College of Fine Arts’ first magna cum laude when he graduated with a degree in Fine Arts in 1953.

“Family” (1952)

PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
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Artist: Renato Rocha
Location: Mr. and Mrs. Ching Tan Gallery, 1/F

Apart from the many paintings on display from the Ateneo Art Gallery collection, Renato Rocha’s abstract wooden sculpture of a family also graces the university museum’s halls. The artist was known for using various kinds of wood for his abstract figures. He was once a protégé of Anastacio Caedo and Napoleon Abueva, while taking up Sculpture at University of the Philippines (UP) – Diliman’s College of Fine Arts.

“Sheaves” (1957)

PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
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Artist: Anita Magsaysay-Ho
Location: Mr. and Mrs. Ching Tan Gallery, 1/F

Anita Magsaysay-Ho is often associated with and remembered for her distinctive style highlighting femininity and nationalism. This can especially be seen in “Sheaves,” which features women busy with everyday activities like selling fish, harvesting, and sweeping. Magsaysay-Ho was the only woman among the Thirteen Moderns, a contemporary art collective that emerged in the 1930s. In 2017, her work “Women Feeding Chickens” (1979) was sold at HKD 8,740,000 (P56,000,000) in a Christie's auction.

“Dalagang Bukid” (1937)

PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
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Artist: Fernando Amorsolo
Location: Mr. and Mrs. Ching Tan Gallery, 1/F

Fernando Amorsolo is considered a master in Filipino art for his mesmerizingly realistic depiction of ordinary folk in mundane, rural landscapes. The works of this National Artist are a testament to his mastery and excellence in the use of light. Amorsolo makes everything seem organic, and is able to perfectly capture Philippine culture.

“The Island” (1970)

PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
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Artist: Nena Saguil
Location: Mr. and Mrs. Chung Te Gallery, 1/F

While Nena Saguil began her technical training at UP, in 1956, she decided to further her studies in Paris where she also had a solo exhibition. “The Island,” an abstract piece representing our seas, is one of her works that are well-known not just in the Philippines, but also in the French capital.

“Kinupot” (1977)

PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
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Artist: Edgar Talusan Fernandez
Location: Mr. and Mrs. Chung Te Gallery, 1/F

Edgar Talusan Fernandez’s “Kinupot” speaks of censorship and/or dissent during Martial Law under former President Ferdinand Marcos. The piece is a creative yet very powerful interpretation of people’s struggles during the said era, reminding us to #NeverForget.

“Molave Bench” (2007)

PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
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Artist: Napoleon Abueva
Location: Ernesto and Susan Tanmantiong Gallery, 1/F

If you fancy interacting with a work by a National Artist, here’s your chance. Napoleon Abueva is known for the two large sculptures ("Tribute to Higher Education" and "University Gateway") that welcome students and visitors onto the UP Diliman campus from University Avenue, but the artist also created pieces that are smaller in scale. One of them is a wooden bench, engraved with Abueva's signature, that now stands in the Ateneo Art Gallery. 

“Spring” (2014)

PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
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Artist: Raffy T. Napay
Location: Ernesto and Susan Tanmantiong Gallery, 1/F

Raffy Napay’s work shows thread and yarn sewn on recycled textiles with phosphorescent paint, highlighting themes interrelated with filial connections and ideas. His sewing skills were inspired and nurtured by his mother, who is a seamstress. The work is displayed in a small space where people are allowed to explore and take photos. 

“Mabini Art Project: 100 Paintings”

PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
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Artist: Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan
Location: Ernesto and Susan Tanmantiong Gallery, 1/F

The Aquilizans' work refers to “Mabini art,” which is a genre of conservative Filipino landscape painting. These are the pieces we often see in commercial galleries that cater to a wide, diverse tourist market. Interestingly, “Mabini Art Project: 100 Paintings” is one huge painting divided and framed into a hundred portions.

Love It and Leave It: A Legacy of Gifts to the Ateneo Art Gallery runs until June 16 at Ateneo Art Gallery, Areté, Ateneo de Manila University, Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City. For more information, visit Ateneo Art Gallery’s website.

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