January 2015
January 6, 2015

January 6, 2015


WHEN Spanish-Filipino painter Fernando Zobel decided to move to Spain, he donated over 200 artworks from his collection to the Ateneo de Manila, and that collection is now housed in the Ateneo Art Gallery (AAG). Today the AAG — established in 1960 — is not only home to Mr. Zobel’s collection of works by mostly Filipino postwar modern artists, but neorealist and abstract expressionist works from several other donors. To date, the AAG holds over 600 works of art, including paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, photographs, and posters.

GRANADEAN ARABESQUE by Jose Joya, and Carroza by Fernando Zobel are part of the AAG’s permanent collection. A visitor to the AAG will see around 70 paintings and sculptures from its permanent collection. Every year, another set of works is exhibited, but the number depends on how much space is taken up by the temporary contemporary art exhibits, said Yael A. Buencamino, AAG’s managing curator, in an interview with BusinessWorld last month. Besides that, they also have an exhibit of prints which are rotated more regularly as they are sensitive to light and cannot be exposed to it for long periods. Thanks to the rotation of pieces from the permanent collection plus the temporary exhibits, visitors will always have something new to see if they come back to the museum every now and then.
What people can count on always seeing are the star pieces of AAG’s permanent collection, which are always featured unless they are on loan to another museum, said Ms. Buencamino. These are Granadean Arabesque by Jose Joya (which was sent to the 1964 Venice Biennale),Carroza by Fernando Zobel, Jeepneys by Vicente Manansala, Judas Kiss by Napoleon Abueva,Bagong Taon and Carnival Forms by Arturo Luz, Joyful Kingdom by David Medalla, Laundry by Romeo Tabuena, and Sarimanok and Beef Steak by Hernando R. Ocampo.The gallery also has “excellent examples” of works by National Artists Joya, Manansala, Ocampo, Abueva, Jerry Elizalde Navarro, and Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera, said Ms. Buencamino. “You can see the beginnings of the styles that they became associated with,” she said.

Describing these works as “dynamic,” Ms. Buencamino gave an example by pointing to the Ocampo pieces. These works are not just “flat forms and figures,” she said, but “each color block has a lot of texture in it.”

“It’s a good place to see the beginnings of Philippine abstraction,” she added.


The AAG’s collection of prints includes works by foreign masters such as Rembrandt, Goya, Manet, and Toulouse-Lautrec. There are also pieces by 20th-century European, American, and Filipino artists such as Kathe Kollwitz, Ben Shahn, Manuel Rodriguez, and Virgillio Aviado. The majority of the prints, especially the works by foreign artists, are part of Mr. Zobel’s donation.

Some of these prints are also in the collections of major art museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the MoMA in New York, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Louvre in Paris.

Ms. Buencamino pointed out that one usually sees paintings by these famous artists but not prints, so it might be interesting for visitors to see a different side of Manet or Goya. — JATC

The Ateneo Art Gallery is located at the second level of the Rizal Library Special Collections Bldg., Ateneo de Manila University, Katipunan Ave., Loyola Heights, Quezon City. It is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 426-6001 ext. 4160, fax 426-6488, e-mail ateneoartgallery@gmail.com, or visit http://www.ateneoartgallery.org.