Cover Fishermen, oil on canvas, 2002, 24” x 48”. Image courtesy of Leon Gallery.

As we celebrate art and culture this month, we extol ten of the greatest Filipino masters who left behind a legacy of artistic greatness


There is beauty in the rural life and this rings true in Anita Magsaysay-Ho’s paintings. She had always captured Filipino culture in her art by painting women frozen in different stages of work, like in At the Seashore, using egg tempera. Magsaysay-Ho had left a mark in the history of Philippine art as the only woman to be included in the Filipino artist group Thirteen Moderns.


Illustrious cubist painter and illustrator Vicente Manansala had always produced paintings that depict the reality of life in the Philippines including intimacy, poverty and culture. A recurring subject in Manansala’s paintings is the makeshift shack, the same subject portrayed in Barong Barong. Manansala had always found beauty in the artistic process, associating it with the act of making love.


Mauro Malang Santos was a prominent cartoonist and illustrator who created Kosme, the Cop, Retired comic strip. But soon enough, Malang’s flair for the art evolved from illustrative work to picturesque abstract pieces. His favourite subject was women, rendered in vibrant colours, like in his work Mother and Children.

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FERNANDO ZÒBEL (1924-1984)

Fernando Zobel was a prominent figure in the history of Philippine modernism for his unwavering passion for the arts. Zobel veered away from his pre-destined path in business and instead turned to painting. His enthusiasm for modern art eventually led him to produce Serie Negra and the Saetas series.


Hernando R Ocampo was a prominent abstract artist who painted the highly acclaimed piece Genesis. He applied the same style in Clytaemnestra in 1970. Using bold colour palettes, Ocampo emulated shapes of the human body. Although he initially studied law and creative writing, he pursued his passion for painting—a skill he taught himself in his younger years.

ANG KIUKOK (1931-2005)

National Artist Ang Kiukok was widely recognised for his unique art style that merges cubist, surrealist and expressionist aesthetics. Over the years, Kiukok’s style evolved from dark to lighter themes. His famous artwork Fishermen, a modern letras y figuras, fetched more than 65 million pesos in the Spectacular Mid- Year Auction in 2017.

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CESAR LEGASPI (1917-1994)

Cesar Legaspi was hailed a pioneer neo-realist and national artist for refining the aesthetics of cubism in his paintings. Using the technique of geometric fragmentation, he merged mythical and modern images that depict laborers and beggars in the country. Much like his artwork Miners, where Legaspi painted a scene involving two workers using his signature sombre colour palette.


Federico Aguilar Alcuaz was a renowned abstract artist, portraitist and sculptor. The artist always had a sophisticated perspective on life and nature—a quality that can be seen in the art he had produced over the years. Using supple nudes, Alcuaz elegantly played with colours, light and shadow especially seen in Tres Marias, a popular series that the artist started in the late Seventies.


Napoleon Abueva, the Father of Modern Philippine Sculpture and the youngest National Artist awardee, had created astonishing sculptures that are currently installed in both local and international museums. One of his prominent works, Sunburst, can be found at the Peninsula Manila lobby. The brass, copper, and stainless steel sculpture withstands the test of time, just as Abueva’s legacy lives on.


Oscar de Zalameda’s aptitude for painting harmonious hues had earned him awards and prominence. His works had been included in various exhibits across the world such as New York, Barcelona, Hamburg, Monte Carlo and Milan. His Lavandera portrays the same jewel-toned colours and the mural technique he had learnt during his stay in Mexico.

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