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Remembering The Father of Philippine Modern Art: Edades’ 122nd

Yesterday was no ordinary day for the Philippine art scene as the Father of Philippine Modern Art, Victorio Edades, turned 122.

Birth anniversary poster from ncca.gov.ph

 

Edades and His Artistic Trail

Born as the youngest of Hilario’s and Cecilia’s ten children, Edades went to barrio schools in Dagupan, Pangasinan for basic education and obtained his high school diploma in Lingayen. During his 7th grade, he was known to be an “apprentice teacher” because of his notable drawing skills in his art class. Apart from this, Edades was a budding achiever and received awards and recognition debates and writing competitions during that time.

He eventually went to the United States with his friends after high school. He pursued architecture and fine arts at University of Washington in Seattle. While finishing his master’s degree, Edades married Jean Garrott, an American who then taught English and Drama at University of the Philippines.

“The Builders” (1928) | oil on wood | from ph.asiatatler.com

 

Sharing Expertise through Educational Programs

In 1928, Edades went back to the Philippines to change the art scene. He eventually had his own show at Philippine Columbian Club which shocked the public because his painting style was different than Fernando Amorsolo’s and other contemporaries who were dominating the art scene.

Edades caused a change in the art scene because his works were opposing the styles of his contemporaries. His style included distorted human figures in rough, bold impasto strokes compared to Amorsolo’s radiant style. The colors that he used were noticeably darker and very gloomy; and laborers and factory workers were his subjects.

Edades was acting head of University of Santo Tomas’ Architecture Program which he helped established in 1930. He eventually became dean five years after. As he stayed for three decades in the department, he introduced a liberal arts program which offered foreign languages and art history courses. He made history as the university was the first to offer a degree in fine arts, because art was taught in vocational schools only. Apart from this, he also invited Botong Francisco and Galo Ocampo to join him as colleagues which were part of the formidable 'Triumvirate'.

“The Sketch” (1928) | oil on canvas | from lifestyle.inquirer.net

 

More About the Father of Philippine Modern Art

Seven years after the famous press battle between the modernists and conservatives, about Modern art’s pros and cons, he established Atelier of Modern Art (1937) which gave birth to 'Thirteen Moderns'. The 'Thirteen Moderns' included Botong Francisco, Galo Ocampo, Lorenzo, Vicente Manansala, HR Ocampo, Anita Magasaysay-Ho, Cesar Legaspi, Demetrio Diego, Ricarte Purugganan, Jose Pardo, Bonifacio Cristobal and Arsenio Capili. The support for their modern style became greater as they founded Art Association of the Philippines and Philippine Art Gallery (1951).

Upon retiring at 70 year old, UST conferred Edades a Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa, as an “outstanding visionary, teacher, and artist”. He then decided to settle in Davao with his family.

Victorio Edades was declared National Artist for Painting in 1976. Moreover, he was given Pro Patria Award during the Rizal Centennial Celebration (1961) and Patnubay ng Sinsing at Kalinangan Award (1964) from the City of Manila.

He died at the age of 89 in March 7, 1985. The city government of Dagupan commissioned artists to create a mural that would honor their kababayan.

Some of his famous works are “Japanese Girl” (1928), “The Wrestlers” (1927), “Mother and Daughter” (1926), and many more. Edades remains to be an icon in the Philippine art scene for being exemplary, visionary, and revolutionary.