Fundacion Sansó Features A Monumental Exhibit of Master Artists

The exhibition includes the works of Larry Alcala and Juvenal Sansó, as well as mementos from their years as students of a stellar UP School of Fine Arts batch under Fernando Amorsolo. 

The University of the Philippines (UP) has produced its fair share of talented artists over the years. Yet it’s not every day where so many of the finest creative minds in the country come from a single undergraduate batch. However, this did in fact happen more than seven decades ago, with the UP Fine Arts class of 1950 to 1951. The group stood out with its exceptional students, namely Presidential Medal of Merit Awardee Juvenal Sansó (who at the time was a special student who didn’t earn formal academic credit for university work), National Artists Napoleon Abueva, Jose Joya, Larry Alcala, Federico Aguilar Alcuaz (who was also a special student), Presidential Medal of Merit Awardee Araceli Limcaco Dans, and the renowned couturier Pitoy Moreno. 

Amorsolo's UP Fine Arts class of 1950 to 1951
Amorsolo’s UP Fine Arts class of 1950 to 1951

To pay tribute to these remarkable talents, the Fundacion Sansó opened the exhibit Amorsolo, Alcala, Sansó: UP School of Fine Arts in February 2024. It’s a fitting celebration for the country’s National Arts Month. It also commemorates the 75th anniversary of the transfer of the School of Fine Arts to the UP-Diliman campus, a significant milestone that has shaped the school into what it is today. 

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New Beginnings and Milestones

Today’s UP College of Fine Arts was once called the UP School of Fine Arts in the late 1940s, when it had moved its classes from the war-damaged Padre Faura campus to a new campus in Diliman, Quezon City. 

UP's war-damaged Padre Faura campus
UP’s war-damaged Padre Faura campus

During this time, the fine arts department had a formidable faculty made up of National Artist and sculptor Guillermo Tolentino, painter Dominador Castañeda, and Ireneo Miranda, just to name a few. Under the directorship of the country’s first National Artist, Fernando Amorsolo, these trailblazing masters helped train the next generation of great artists. 

The move to Diliman signaled a new era for UP, as Sansó and his classmates witnessed the new campus develop. Among these seminal moments was the transfer of the Oblation statue—a work from one of the students’ from one of the students’ teachers and future National Artist Tolentino. The university had also begun the construction of its mid-century-modern campus buildings, such as the UP Main Library and Molave Residence Halls. 

L-R: Mary Espina, Araceli Limcaco Dans, Nenita Villanueva, Pitoy Moreno, Ben Osorio, Juvenal Sansó
L-R: Mary Espina, Araceli Limcaco Dans, Nenita Villanueva, Pitoy Moreno, Ben Osorio, Juvenal Sansó

Legacy of The Greats

Amorsolo, Alcala, Sansó: UP School of Fine Arts explores the artistic relationships between National Artist Fernando Amorsolo and his students, as well as the important moments of UP Diliman’s beginnings. In it are dozens of old photographs, mementos, and letters that chronicle their creative journeys, as well as the lifelong friendship between Sansó and Alcala, which lasted until the latter’s passing in 2002. 

Also highlighted are the works of Amorsolo, Sansó, and Alcala, who cemented themselves as masters in their respective crafts. Amorsolo with his soft pastoral depictions of Filipino life, Sansó with his vibrant landscapes and portraits, and Alcala with his eye-catching editorial cartoons and illustrations that perfectly capture their milieus. Thanks to the Alcala family (through Liongoren Gallery), serigraphs of the artist’s famous “Slice of Life” cartoons are on full display at the exhibit. 

Continuing to Pay It Forward

The exhibit’s opening reception also introduced its special fundraising project for Art Literacy. This was the result of a partnership between the Fernando Amorsolo Foundation, the heirs of eminent collector Dr. Eleuterio “Teyet” Pascual of the Rising Sunday Foundation, and the Liongoren Gallery.

The fundraiser embodies the spirit of generosity that Juvenal Sansó carried out throughout his life. Even as a young student, the artist secretly donated funds from his own pocket to help fellow budding talents at UP Diliman. In the present day, the artist’s eponymous foundation continues his mission of helping deserving young artists succeed in their fields, donating to various scholarships and stipend funds to support its partner schools like Bulacan State University and Far Eastern University, as well as the Leo Abaya Thesis Grant at UPCFA. 

As part of the fundraiser, the exhibit auctioned a one-of-one edition giclee based from Fernando Amorsolo’s idyllic painting “Man and Woman on Carabao,” and limited-edition Alcala prints. Proceeds from these sales will go to the students from the aforementioned partner universities to pay it forward, ensuring that future generations of artists have the means to pursue their dreams. 

“Amorsolo, Alcala, Sansó: UP School of Fine Arts” will be open until March 2024, with a culminating event for the turnover of donations to its corresponding art school grantees. Interested visitors can view it at the Fundacion Sansó, 32 V. Cruz Street, Barangay Santa Lucia, San Juan. The museum is open from 10am to 6pm, and closed on holidays and Sundays.

Photos courtesy of Fundacion Sansó. 

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