Leaving A Legacy: Arturo Luz, The Disciplined National Artist Who Pioneered Philippine Modernism, Dies At 94 - Arts & Culture

Luz, who was also the founding director of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, passed away last night surrounded by loved ones.

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“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,” writes Angela Luz, the revered artist’s daughter, in a Facebook post. “We could not have asked for anything more.”

Founding a movement

One of the pioneers of Philippine modern neo-realist art, Arturo Rogelio Luz is among six National Artists for the Visual Arts whose works belong to this style.

In a piece for BluPrint published last November, Reuben Ramas Cañete, PhD extoled the artist’s consistency and discipline.

“This can be seen in his trademark use of human figures, still life objects, and landscape motifs in a highly simplified and starkly rendered body of work, reducing what one can observe in nature into lines, planes, and bold colors,” writes the scholar, who is a professor at the Asian Center of the University of the Philippines.

Luz’s body of work spans an unprecedented sixty years of consistency, Cañete continues, defined by the distinct use of motifs or materials over the decades: “still life and genre paintings during the early 50s; paintings of the circus and the city in the late 50s and 60s; geometric sculptures from the late 60s to the late 80s; and a recapitulation of landscapes, human figures, and geometric abstractions in both painting and sculpture since the 90s.”

Photo by Ed Simon of Studio 100 for BluPrint in 2013

Art curation

The painter, sculptor, printmaker, and designer was also a prominent art administrator in the 1970s to 80s. Luz was the founding director of the Design Center of the Philippines, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, and the Museum of Philippine, and the Museum of Philippine Art.

He also ran his own eponymous exhibit space, the Luz Gallery from the 1961 to 2003. Through this space, National Commission for Culture and the Arts described says that the artist left a lasting legacy.

“By establishing the Luz Gallery that professionalized the art gallery as an institution and set a prestigious influence over generations of Filipino artists, Luz inspired and developed a Filipino artistic community that nurtures impeccable designs,” writes the commission in its profile of the artist.

Among Luz’s prominent works is “Black and White,” which is displayed at the Bulwagang Carlos V. Francisco in the Cultural Center of the Philippines, as well as a stainless steel sculpture fronting the Benguet Mining Corporation Building in Pasig.

Apart from this NCCA also lists Luz’s “Bagong Taon,” “Vendador de Flores,” “Skipping Rope,” “Candle Vendors,” “Procession,” “Self-Portrait,” “Night Glows,” Grand Finale,” “Cities of the Past,” and “Imaginary Landscapes” as some of his most significant works.

Family man

While Luz’s artistic contributions to the country are numerous, his family, of course, remembers him beyond his skill and craft.

“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,” writes Angela. “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.”

The artist will be terribly missed, but never forgotten, writes Angela. “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!”

Banner Photo by Ed Simon of Studio 100 for BluPrint in 2013

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