In Memoriam: The Legacy of National Artist Arturo Luz
National Artist for Visual Arts Arturo R. Luz has dedicated most of his life making different artforms. He was born 26 November 1926 and attended several painting classes at the School of Fine Arts at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, the Art School of the Brooklyn Museum in New York, and the Academe Grade Chaumiere in Paris. He was also a graduate of the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland in 1994.
In 2014, Tatler Philippines had the honour of getting a glimpse behind Arturo's creative mind. In the interview, the artist bared his passion for arts. “My life is to paint. Because I keep working, I could give any show any day of the week. If someone asks me to show my recent paintings, there are over 150 in my studio. There is a bodega [storeroom] of more paintings. I just take my pick and frame them,” he shared with us.
In college, Arturo began exhibiting his works. He won first prize at the first International Art Salon in Saigon, Vietnam (1962), an award from the California Art Association, and the Republic Cultural Heritage Award for Painting of the Philippine Republic in 1966. The Manila Times, the Philippines' oldest English-language broadsheet has also given him the Outstanding Young Man In Art title.
Arturo wanted the Philippine arts to flourish. In his own ways, he was able to help the industry by making the active effort of involving himself in the local art scene. From 1976 to 1986 he served as the founding director of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. He owned the Luz Gallery in Makati and joined different exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum.
He was loved dearly by his colleagues in the industry. Filipino art critic Rodolfo Paras-Perez described Arturo's work as "one of the most significant and major shows ever attempted on a contemporary artist".
On Wednesday evening, Angela Luz, Arturo's daughter, announced his passing with a heavy heart. "It is with deep sorrow that I announce the passing of my father, our beloved National Artist, Arturo Luz. He peacefully joined his Creator at 8:45 this evening, and I stood by his side as he took his last breath. We could not have asked for anything more. God blessed my father with 94 of the most wonderful years on earth. He enriched our lives with his art, with his incredible talent and his genius," Angela said.
"As a father and a grandfather, he was simply the best. He was the most kind and generous human being. And as a husband to my mother, he was perfect. He will be terribly missed, but will never be forgotten. His legacy will live on, and will last forever. Rest in Eternal Peace, Dad. Be happy in the place where there is no more suffering or pain. Give Mom and Paola a hug from all of us. We love you so much. Thank you for everything," she concluded.
In light of this, Tatler Philippines sends its condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Arturo. More than an artist, he was an icon who left an irreplaceable mark in the industry.
He may be gone but his craft and the many people it touched will live on to tell his story. The life he lived will always be remembered fondly.