The Order of National Artists conferred its 2022 roster last June but surprisingly, there was no one praised for contributions to the visual arts scene. We list down other important Filipino artists that people should remember:

The Order of National Artists has conferred many of our nation's pride in terms of sculpture, painting, illustrations, and other forms of visual arts. However, for 2022, not a single visual artist has received it. Although many revered Filipino modernists have already earned the said distinction, there are still others from the same period who are equally important, including some progenitors of contemporary art—considering their distinctive style, enduring legacy and impact on the Philippine art scene today.


1. Luis "Junyee" Yee Jr

Known as the Father of Installation Art in the country, Mindanaoan artist Junyee received the highest distinction from the Cultural Center of the Philippines last 2020 for his influential career in the visual art scene spanning 50 years.

Read also: In Conversation With Junyee: The Father of Installation Art in the Philippines

2. Imelda Cajipe-Endaya

Distinguished Filipina painter, printmaker, writer, and researcher, Cajipe-Endaya has just mounted her first-ever retrospective exhibition at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Born and raised in Paete, Laguna, the core of her works reside in our pursuit of Filipino identity, the struggles and successes of Filipina women in this modern age, and the power of the people—the oppressed and the marginalised. She is the founding president of Kasibulan, a women artist collective, that is very much active up to this day in pushing further feminism and social realism in the Philippine art scene.

Cajipe-Endaya is a recipient of the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining in 1990 and the CCP Centennial Honor for the Arts in 1998.


3. Tony Velasquez

The creator of the iconic Filipino comic character, Kenkoywas a renowned illustrator who later became known as the Father of Tagalog comics. He worked for Don Ramon Roces' publications and advertising company. Through this, he shaped how the masses of their time consume advertisements and illustrations, eventually including Philippine comic books.

Velasquez was a recipient of the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining in 1993.

Read also: The Leading Men of Philippine Arts


4. Mauro Malang Santos

Malang first worked in the art department of the Manila Chronicle, an English broadsheet founded in 1945. But although his career as a cartoonist flourished (in fact he created Kosme the Cop series, the first-ever English comic strip in a Philippine publication), he later became known as prolific painter and printmaker.

Malang was a recipient of the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining in 1995.

Read also: Remembering Malang


5. Lao Lianben

With works commonly associated with the spirit and aesthetics of Zen, this Filipino visual artist is perhaps the first to introduce the use of found objects and indigenous materials in an assemblage. His contemporaries Gus Albor and Rock Drilon, and the rest of their artist group Remedios Circle, are also important stalwart figures in the Philippine art scene that everybody should know.


6. Santiago Bose

This mixed media artist co-founded Baguio Arts Guild and was known for his distinct use of indigenous media like bamboo and volcanic ash. Addressing difficult social and political issues through his art, the flourishing of the art scene in the Cordillera region is credited to Bose and his contemporaries.

Bose was a recipient of the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining in 2004.


7. Brenda Fajardo

One of the pioneers of the Philippine Educational Theater Association, Fajardo channels into her art the aesthetics of poverty and the art of the people. She has exhibited extensively locally and internationally, and, with Cajipe-Endaya, is one of the promoters of Philippine feminist art.

Fajardo is a recipient of the CCP Centennial Honor for the arts in 1998 and the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining in 2012.


8. Nena Saguil

Renowned abstractionist Saguil had her works mainly themed around geometric shapes to symbolise the universe. Her works reflect her interest in mysticism and often experiment between cubism, impressionism, and surrealism art movements.

Saguil was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Merit in 2006.


9. Roberto Chabet

Aside from being the curator and founding museum director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Chabet was known to be the Father of Conceptual Art in the country and impacted many generations of artists, art teachers, critics, and cultural workers. He played an important role in the emergence of contemporary art in the country.

Chabet was a recipient of the CCP Centennial Honor for the Arts in 1998 and the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining in 2015.


10. Romulo Olazo

Olazo was an accomplished painter and printmaker, with significant contributions to abstract art. His achievements in technique and substance are evident in his Diaphanous and Permutation series which have made great waves among critics and collectors here and abroad.


11. Anita Magsaysay-Ho

This Filipina painter specialised in social realism and post-Cubism, making her the only female member of the legendary artist group "Thirteen Moderns" in the '50s who were the pioneers and shapers of modernism in the country. Her works have broken records in auction houses even up to this day.

In case you missed it: A Look Back at Anita Magsaysay Ho: Her Life, Art, and Philosophies 


12. Nestor Leynes

A student of Fernando Amorsolo, Leynes helped develop the painting in a hyperrealistic style here in the country. He also worked in comics and advertising and later went painting full-time at the age of 58 until his retirement. He was regarded as one of the leaders of the "Magic Realist" painters in the country.


13. Pacita Abad

Hailing from Batanes, Abad was also one of the essential Filipina artists. She travelled the world exhibiting her works of distinct ink-brush painting techniques, batik, tie-dying, and other traditional art forms. In her quilting method trapunto, she used mixed media like stones, sequins, glass, buttons, and many more, and layered them on painted canvas.

She became the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philipines in 1984.

Read also: Defying Conventions: A Pacita Abad Retrospective


14. Agnes Arellano

Arellano is known for her mythical, surrealist, and erotic works in plaster, wood, and other materials. This renowned sculptor continues to make her mark through exhibitions locally and internationally, channelling the Sacred Feminine in her many works that are often accompanied by her original poems and musical compositions as well as by writings by other authors. She founded the artist-run space Pinaglabanan Gallery with Roberto Chabet in the '80s.

Read also: In Conversation with Agnes Arellano


15. Oscar Villamiel

Villamiel's mixed media installation titled "Payatas" was shown at the 2013 Singapore Biennale, which had the eyes of art critics all over the world on him and his art at the time. Villamiel is known to be one of the shapers of the contemporary art scene in the country, with immense installations made through collecting discarded objects and addressing the urgent issues brought upon by the government's negligence and the impacts of deforestation.


16. Julie Lluch

One of the most prolific female artists of her generation, Lluch is known for her life-sized sculptural works in terracotta, stone, ceramic, and bronze that present her commentaries on the relationship between the sexes. One of the enduring feminist artists in the country, Lluch is surprisingly a self-taught sculptor.


17. Araceli Limcaco-Dans

Another student of Amorsolo, Dans has a fruitful artistic career spanning 80 years behind her. Deemed one of the most important living artists, her works include exquisitely detailed still-life paintings in oil, watercolour, and acrylic. She also pioneered the calado painting, where lacy pineapple or banana fabric is artfully embroidered on her canvases.

Dans is a recipient of the CCP Centennial Honor for the Arts in 1998.


18. Ray Albano

Artist, writer, and curator, Albano's contributions to the Philippine art scene were essential to the development of experimental tendencies in mounting exhibitions. He curated "A Decade of Developmental Art", for the Cultural Center of the Philippines' 10th anniversary, which tackled developmental goals and achievements of the government to the country. His lasting impact was not just his experimental paintings incorporated with found objects and distinctly sensible poetry, but his curatorial direction that influenced curators today.

Read also: Inside a Curator's Mind: Dr Patrick Flores on What the Philippine Art Scene Needs Today


19. Nunelucio Alvarado

This internationally acclaimed artist was one of the most important creative forces to emerge in the artistic islands of Negros. In 1997 and 1999, he was awarded Grand Prize of the Philip Morris Philippine Art Awards and in 1992 received the 13 Artists Award from the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila. His works chronicled the life of the sacadas, at the height of the social injustices towards these sugarcane farmers in the '70s.


20. Eduardo Castrillo

Those who pass by EDSA every day would have seen the masterful sculptures of Eduardo De Los Santos Castrillo, the pioneer of the constructivist style of sculpture in the country. His main medium was metal. And aside from being well-composed with his subjects' blockings, his works would evoke nationalistic pride due to their historical themes.


21. Fil De La Cruz

Esteemed painter and printmaker, De La Cruz specialises in mezzotint prints, a different printmaking process that doesn't use dot-based techniques. His works are known to have ethnic imageries and indigenous symbols, as well as influences from regional myths and folklore. He is a former president of the Association of Pinoyprintmakers (formerly known as the Philippine Association of Printmakers).

Read also: Papemelroti's Robert Alejandro on His Artistic Journey, Battling Cancer, and Embracing Life


22. Danilo Dalena

This visual artist used to be a political cartoonist for the Philippines Free Press and Asia Philippine Leader. In the early years of his career, he was influenced heavily by social realism and impressionism, making his works evident commentaries on the socio-political conditions of the '70s while merely depicting daily life scenes.


23. Edgar Fernandez

This social realist painter was one of the vocal Filipino artists during the Martial Law period. In fact, he is the founding member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines and was widely known for his murals depicting the inhuman condition of the oppressed and the poor. But also, his oeuvre through the years includes his varying takes on "Inang Bayan" and "Madonna" motifs.


24. Ramon Orlina

This contemporary glass sculptor has been tirelessly taming glass and metal throughout his decades-long career, exploring possibilities of abstraction in every exhibition. Highly respected in art circles, Orlina invites everyone to his one-of-a-kind museum in Tagaytay.

In 2006, he was awarded The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Award. In 2012, he received the Gold Medal of Merit Award bestowed by the Philippine Institute of Architects.

Read also: The Glass Tamer: Ramon Orlina


25. Nonoy Marcelo

A revered cartoonist of his generation, Marcelo created the beatnik cartoon character Ptyk and Blidit. This pride of the Far Eastern University even used Alfredo Roces, former dean of the said institution, as his model for Tisoy, an iconic character adapted to the screen by National Artist Ishmael Bernal. Marcelo used the comic strip platform to resonate the turbulent period of the '70s up to the 2000s, by caricaturing political figures especially Presidents. He received accolades for his notable contribution to print journalism.

Marcelo was the sole cartoonist to receive the CCP Centennial Honor for the Arts in 1998.


26. Eduardo Masferré

This Filipino-Catalan photographer was born in Sagada in Mountain Province. Coming from this region, his works have been heavily focused on documentary reports about the life of the natives of the Cordillera. He was best known for his book, People of the Philippine Cordillera: Photographs 1934-1956, which was published in 1988. It included his internationally recognised photographs which were exhibited in Manila, Copenhagen, and Tokyo, some now taken care of by esteemed museum institutions today.

Masferré was a recipient of the CCP Centennial Honor for the Arts in 1998.


27. David Medalla

An internationally acclaimed painter, sculptor, performance artist, and poet, Medalla was distinctly a Filipino artist who was also a "person of the world". He merged physics and poetry in his immense body of works that also include kinetic art. He had either performed, mounted exhibitions, given lectures, or nurtured the rise of the art scenes, not only in Manila but also in Paris, Kassel, London, New York, Sorbonne, Vancouver, and many more. He was the founder and director of the London Biennale in 1998. At the 57th Venice Biennale, Christine Macel curated his seminal work A Stitch in Time, which was a long string of fabric in the Pavilion of the Common where all artists and visitors can participate.


28. Galo Ocampo

Many people are familiar with the works of National Artist Hernando R Ocampo but his contemporary Galo was equally important. Unfortunately, he worked mainly for the government that perhaps curtailed him from taking risks. Galo was the director of the National Museum, later the Presidential Museum in Malacañang, and designed the Republic of the Philippines' heraldry and seals. Other than that, being one of the shapers of modernism in the country, he was known for his "Brown Madonna" motif.


29. Rodolfo Paras-Perez

Acclaimed graphic artist, art historian, printmaker, and critic, Paras-Perez has been a respected figure in the local art scene even up to this day. He wrote scholarly books and publications for many of the country's revered visual artists and developed art criticism as well. He mounted exhibitions of his woodblock prints and paintings in Manila, Geneva, Krakow, and Florence, and won awards in the '60s.

Read also: Juvenal Sansó: Master of Visual Artistry


30. Justin "Tiny" Nuyda

Nuyda, known for his abstractionist style to depict surreal landscapes, was one of the very few artists whose command of colours, luminosity, and radiance bring out a sophisticated and spiritual approach to the beauty of the physical world. His alluring landscapes give us a glimpse of how he saw the world, evoking an impressionistic and otherworldly rendition of abstract art.


31. Cenon Rivera

Renowned artist, writer, and educator, Rivera was one of the few Filipino artists trained in stained glass making. Known for the captivating stained glass murals of the Mt Samat National Shrine in Bataan and some panels in the Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Pasig, his mastery can also be seen in his paintings and prints.


32. Alfredo Roces

One of the country's most prominent artists, Roces explored from one artistic movement to another until he became more known for abstract expressionism and assemblage. Not to be confused with the National Artist for Literature Alejandro Roces, he also wrote many art books, describing and analysing the works of the country's renowned visual artists. He was also essential to the formation of the esteemed Saturday Group of artists that just celebrated its 50th year with a retrospective exhibition.


33. Manuel Rodriguez Sr

Regarded as the Father of Philippine Printmaking, Rodriguez was not only a pioneer of the said visual art practice but was also the first Filipino to exhibit prints abroad. In 1968, he established the Philippine Association of Printmakers, which is now known as the Association of Pinoyprintmakers.

Rodriguez was a recipient of the CCP Centennial Honor for the Arts in 1998.


34. Solomon Saprid

This multi-awarded sculptor was best known for his TikbalangGomBurZaMag-Ina series, and many more. His sculptures, as Roces once put it, "has a kinetic quality to it. . .a sense of arrested action. He refers to it as 'frozen motion'." Saprid's body of work ranges from mythical to historical to religious subjects, with each one evoking deep-seated emotions and reflecting relevant social situations.


35. Tam Austria

Another one of the most sought-after artists by collectors is Austria, born and raised in Rizal province and one of the influential artists in Tanay who pushed its art scene forward. In his body of work, he has explored themes ranging from local myths and legends, mother and child, the peasant folk, their customs and traditions, and the rural landscapes.

Read also: Inday Reyes-Cadapan: Art Imitating Not Only Reality But Also Aspirations


36. Charlie Co

This contemporary visual artist is not only known for his vibrant paintings of socio-realist themes but also as one of the founding members of Black Artists of Asia, a Bacolod-based group of artists instrumental to the growth of artist communities in the Visayas. With businessman Victor Benjamin Lopue, he founded Orange Gallery which has become a haven for emerging contemporary artists in Bacolod.


37. Romulo Galicano

Another multi-awarded artist who is not only known for his mastery of technique but also for philosophy, Galicano is one of the most important artists of Cebu who made a mark internationally. Galicano founded and chairs the Portrait Artists Society of the Philippines, which pursues the revival and flourishment of the practice of traditional portraiture and figurative art.


38. Manuel Baldemor

Sculptor, printmaker, illustrator, painter, writer—this multi-hyphenate and revered artist from Paete is known worldwide, thanks to his collaboration with UNICEF which distributed greeting cards he created. But more than that, Baldemor has always been an indomitable figure in Philippine art for his award-winning works, and artist-in-residence grants to more than 50 countries. His works depict idyllic scenes with folk art characters in simplified geometric forms, inspired by his hometown, its people, and daily Filipino life.


39. Norma Belleza

Renowned Filipino painter whose early works are explorations of dark and depressing themes, Belleza is married to fellow artist Angelito Antonio, and together they produce wondrous art in bright colours. Belleza's works depict folk elements like women vendors, potters, and workers. She is known for her romantic sensibility in still life and emphasis on the physical strength of her subjects.


40. Angelito Antonio

Antonio belongs to the second generation of Neo-Realists and has works that depict mostly women performing domestic, maternal, industrial, agricultural, and entrepreneurial chores. Antonio's style captures influences from Manansala and Picasso but his own take on abstraction and modern expressionism has made him known as one of the remaining pillars of Modernism in the country.


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  • Words(SOURCES) Cultural Center of the Philippines (Gawad CCP Para sa Sining and Centennial Honors for the Arts), National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Ateneo Art Gallery, Silverlens, León Gallery, Salcedo Auctions
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