IA4: Museum Visit 1

The National Museum of the Philippines boasts one of the largest and most diverse art galleries in the country. Probably the best thing about art, in my opinion, is that, it can mean something unique and special for each person who gets to experience it. Here are eight works of art that stood out to me during my last visit to the National Museum:

Reflection IV

NESTOR VINLUAN

Undated

Acrylic on canvas

This painting was displayed along the halls of the 3rd floor gallery, which were lined with numerous other paintings in the contemporary art genre. While the other art works might have caught my eye first with their vibrant colors, unusual textures and geometric patterns, this piece resonated with me most. It showcases what seems like identical sides of some kind of plant, but as you stare a little longer, you’ll notice how the portion above is discolored. To me, the upper side represents something flawed or problem. But it’s important to know that there will always be to sides to anything — a story, an argument, an opportunity. When a challenge comes our way, we often focus merely on the problem and its tragic consequences that we fail to see the opportunities for growth it brings us.

A View of Manila

DOMINADOR CASTANEDA

1940

Oil on canvas

This painting offers a landscape of Manila then, including what seems like a factory releasing a lot of dark smoke into the air. Knowing what Manila looks like now, I think this painting serves as a painful reminder of how we started polluting our beautiful city. Cleaning up the mess we started seems almost impossible because instead of closing down factories, we build even more just to satisfy our constant desire for something newer and better than the things we already have.

A Plea for Freedom from Fear

FERMIN GOMEZ

1949

Plaster of Paris

This is a sculpture of an angry and hurt woman holding her children close, with one of them already on the floor, presumably dead. This piece made me sad because firstly, I felt the mother’s love for her children. A mother’s love is possibly one of the strongest forces on earth as a mother is willing to do anything for the well-being of her children. It reminded me of my own mom and all the sacrifices she has made in order to give my brother and I a comfortable life. Secondly, I was saddened by the fact that these people in the sculpture were helpless in their dire time of need. No matter how willful and determined a mother is, some families, even to this day, are victims of war and oppression due to other people’s selfishness and hate. I sympathize with all those people in the world who constantly live in fear and I wish to help them in whichever way I could.

Self

BENEDICTO R. CABRERA

1965

Acrylic on canvas

This painting showcases a faint outline of a man’s face. At first glance, it’s difficult to spot this, especially as I had to stand on my tip-toes just to take a photograph of this artwork. But I truly believe that it’s a masterpiece. I also really liked the simplicity of the title, Self. This piece resonated with me because I don’t know who I am yet, and I’m not sure when I’ll ever be able to define who I am. Just like the painting, my self-concept and image may be a bit blurry, but I am still here and I am going to figure it out.

Rape and Massacre in Ermita

DIOSDADO M. LORENZO

1947

Oil on canvas

This painting, displayed alongside the other artworks significant to the Japanese period in the Philippines, showcases the violence experienced then, especially by women and children. It is also my favorite piece in the National Museum. It might not be the prettiest as it is a bit disturbing to observe, but it surely evoked the most emotions in me. I felt upset, angry, disgusted and scared. I hated what the painting was portraying, but I couldn’t look away. Due to Diosdado Lorenzo’s realistic art style, looking at this painting made me feel as if I was sitting in the same room where all the violence was taking place. Seeing this painting absolutely breaks my heart, but I think that’s what art is for. To this day, so many women are raped every single day and so many innocent lives are taken for no reason at all. Through art like this, I’m even more determined in being an advocate for gender equality, feminism and peace. Through art like this, I’m reminded that there is much more work to be done in the world, and that I want to be a part of the work that gets done.

Light

GLENN A. BAUTISTA

1982

Pastel

This is a drawing of mountains and lights using very aesthetically pleasing pastel colors. As I reflected on what this artwork can mean to me, the first thing that came to mind was calmness. I’ve always found mountains therapeutic — their towering heights, the cool weather and their geometric shape. I enjoy drawing mountains in my spare time, and there’s just something about them that make me relaxed and calm. It’s true that art always has a purpose. Some people think that it must be able to evoke strong emotions, like how the previously mentioned pieces did for me, but I don’t believe that. This piece didn’t move me to tears or break my heart, but it did make me feel at ease. And sometimes, that’s all we need.

For Therese

EMILIO AGUILAR CRUZ

1975

Oil on canvas

Beside the display are Therese Cruz’s, daughter of the artist, sentiments on the painting her father dedicated to her.

“I was a teenager and listening to music in his library in Philam. In the scene, I was playing with my hair. I was not asked to pose. In fact, I was surprised when I finally got up and saw his finished painting. I hated it then as it was such an unflattering pose. Above me was an antique lamp that was fitted with an electric bulb.”

I’m amazed at how E. Aguilar Cruz was able to capture his beloved daughter in a work of art in a matter of moments without her even knowing. To me, this means he appreciates every moment he spends with her. That resonated with me because it’s a reminder to treasure the moments I have with my loved ones. Even simply sitting across from my dad at the dinner table without speaking a word should be a moment to appreciate.

Holy Family

FEDERICO D. ESTRADA

1953

Narra Wood

Definitely one of my favorite pieces in the National Museum — it is a wooden sculpture showcasing the Holy Family of Jesus Christ, Mary and Joseph. What caught my eye was definitely its sleek, modern design. I liked the geometric lines and the earthy vibe it gave off due to the use of wood. But what really made me love it were the carvings of the three faces. One narrow piece of wood was used to represent three different people. This sculpture made me realize that a family should function almost like a single organism. Without unity and understanding, a group of a mother, father and son cannot be called a family. As a Catholic, I also appreciated how the artist used the Holy Family almost as an example to follow for all of us.


Proof of Visit:

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