How Arturo Luz's Legacy in Philippine Modernism Lives On

He passed away on May 26 at the age of 94.

arturo luz
ILLUSTRATION War Espejo

(SPOT.ph) If you've been to the Cultural Center of the Philippines, then chances are, you've seen an Arturo Luz masterpiece. His painting "Black and White" spans a whole wall at the Little Theater Lobby, which makes it hard to miss especially if you're heading to the women's comfort room. The piece, featuring a two-colored geometric abstract, was just one of the many paintings that he's known for. Luz passed away on May 26 at the age of 94, as announced by his daughter Angela.

arturo luz
His painting "Black and White" is currently on display at the Cultural Center of the Philippines' Little Theater Lobby.
PHOTO BY Facebook/NCCA (CCP Visual Arts Division)
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Luz created the "Black Forms on White Space" triptych out of aluminum in 2012.
PHOTO BY Finale Art File
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Luz was born on November 20, 1926 in Manila. He studied at the School of Fine Arts at the University of Santo Tomas, California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, Brooklyn Museum Art School in New York, and Académie Grade Chaumière in Paris. Influenced by Modernist painters like Paul Klee and Frank Stella, he was known for his geometric abstractions of human figures, still-life objects, and landscapes that are all characterized by bold colors within heavy lines and planes.

arturo luz
"Cyclist" (1962)
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"Black Collage I" (1988)
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As an art professional, he was the founding director of the Design Center of the Philippines, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, and the now-defunct Museum of Philippine Art in the '70s. He opened and maintained Manila's longest-running Modernist art gallery (1961-2003), where he also trained generations of artists, designers, and curators in the modern Neorealist school of Philippine art.

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"Cycling Trio" (2011)
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"Mirage" (2008)
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"The Great Stupas" (2001)
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Untitled (1991)
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His international shows include the Philippine Cultural Exhibition in New York in 1953, Arte de America y España in 1963, the 11th São Paulo Biennial in 1971, the Tokyo International Print Biennial in 1974, and the 8th British International Print Biennale in 1984. He was awarded the Order of National Artists of the Philippines (Visual Arts) in 1997.

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"Performers"
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"Homage to Aalto" (2013)
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In a Bluprint interview by art critic Cid Reyes, he was quoted on what was important to him as an artist:

"What is important to me [in an artwork] is its conception and completion…I went through grueling years of almost nothing but design and color, doing literally hundreds of exercises. I suppose that at the end of such training, you develop this instinct for design. It becomes second nature to you…You can sit down and analyze all inter-relations among the different shapes and colors if you wish. You can look at any object, any art, or building even, and analyze it purely in terms of design. But I don’t do this. Everything to me has become instinctive."

Erratum (2 p.m.): This article has been corrected to indicate correct birth year of Arturo Luz. Our apologies for the error.

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