Wednesday, June 01, 2016

To merely describe his work as “abstraction” would strip the nuances of his achievements. Arturo Luz has virtually singlehandedly re-shaped and streamlined and stripped the trimmings off an errant natural penchant for the baroque, weaning us away from the over-the-top and excessive “borloloys” of our design aesthetics. His circus and carnival figures, imagined landscapes, temples, and cities of the past and processions scenes are diluted in a highly deliberate manner, with an eye toward preserving the subject’s essence. This procedure reflects the peak of Philippine Modernism’s propensity towards minimalism — Luz’s take is a devotion to order and organization, eschewing the organic in favor of formalism.

To honor National Artist Arturo Luz for National Heritage Month, Galerie Joaquin in San Juan is displaying several of Luz’s masterworks, never before exhibited, in a show titled “Vintage Luz.” The works on display have been curated to exhibit the range of the artist, including: jugglers, cyclists, acrobats, performers and musicians; still lifes of oriental vessels; collages of shells, stones, and wood; cities of the past characterized by temples, forts and palaces; as well as pure abstract works of sheer formality, held in place by a delicate balancing act of tension and elegance.

“Everything to me has become instinctive,” said National Artist Arturo Luz (b. 1926) to art critic Cid Reyes. “You paint who you are. You are what you paint.” In those words, the renowned Modernist has defined a distinct aesthetic that has been synonymous with his worldview. However way he is viewed, Arturo Luz — one of the last of the living National Artists for Visual Arts — has steadily aligned the arc of Philippine Modernism with that of international movements, through his multi-layered work in the art community — as an artist, gallerist, museum director and critic. His contribution is such that he has become, in many ways, an embodiment of the Modernist period.

A draughtsman of the first order, National Artist Arturo Luz has parlayed the economy of line into a body of work distinguished by its clarity and finesse, precision and openness. No other Filipino artist, bar none, possesses such unerring sense of visual logic in the deployment of graphic elements and devices. In large measure, the show “Vintage Luz” highlights all his virtues and strengths, with his unfailing instinct for line even more visible and laudable with the passing of time.

Arturo Luz was born on November 20, 1926. He studied fine art at the University of Santo Tomas, and took further studies on art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, the Académie Grande Chaumière in Paris, and the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. Luz was a part of National Artist Victorio Edades’ original Thirteen Moderns, along with Carlos “Botong” Francisco, Galo Ocampo, Vicente Manansala, HR Ocampo, Anita Magasaysay, and Cesar Legaspi. Aside from being an artist, Luz was also the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, as well as the founder of the Luz Gallery, one of the earliest modern galleries in the Philippines. Arturo Luz was named National Artist for Visual Art in 1997.

The exhibition opens Tuesday, May 31, 2016, 5:00 pm at Galerie Joaquin, located at 371 P. Guevarra Street corner Montessori Lane, Addition Hills, San Juan City and runs until June 10, 2016.

For more information, please call (632) 723-9418, or emailinfo@galeriejoaquin.com.

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