Over the years many Filipino painters have been recognized for their artistic brilliance here and abroad. Juan Luna and Félix Resurrección Hidalgo even won the top awards in Madrid during the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines. This shows that Filipino painters and their stunning art pieces can compete and match the works of foreign artists.
Building your art collection by famous Filipino painters is a great way to decorate any living and working space and patronize local talents. You can start learning more about Philippine art by knowing popular Filipino artists and their major works. If you are considering including Philippine artworks in your collection, here are 8 famous Filipino painters that you should know.
8 Most Prominent Painters in the Philippines
1. Juan Luna (1857-1899)
Juan Luna was one of the first famous Filipino painters who gained international recognition. His passion for painting started in 1878 with the Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Demonstration of Fine Arts). This famous Filipino artist in the Philippines has a well-known masterpiece, the Spoliarium, which won the gold medal at the 1884 Madrid Exposition of Fine Arts. The painting which depicts dying gladiators is currently displayed in the main gallery of the National Museum. His other notable works include La Bulaqueña, The Battle of Lepanto, The Death of Cleopatra, The Parisian Life, and The Blood Compact which is now displayed in Malacanang.
2. Félix Resurrección Hidalgo (1855-1913)
Hidalgo studied at the School of Fine Arts in Madrid and later built a gallery in Paris after his studies. Together with Luna, they were famous Filipino painters during the Spanish rule in the country. He won a silver medal with his painting Las Virgenes Cristianas Expuestas al Populacho at the 1884 Madrid Exposition of Fine Arts, the same contest where Luna won the gold award. This oil on canvas painting by this famous artist is now part of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas collection. Hidalgo also painted El Violinista, La Barca de Aqueronte, and El Asesinato del Gobernador Bustamante.
3. Fernando Amorsolo (1892-1972)
Amorsolo was the country’s first National Artist. He was recognized as the Grand Old Man of Philippine Art. Like other famous Filipino painters, Amorsolo developed his technique. He masterfully utilized natural light in his landscape paintings which portrayed Filipino customs, fiestas, and culture. He also did self-portraits, wartime scenes, and oil portraits of Philippine presidents. He taught and became director of the College of Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines. Some of the paintings included in the collection of this famous Filipino artist include Rice Planting, Sunday Morning Going to Town, The Mestiza, and Dalagang Bukid.
DID YOU KNOW?
Amorsolo could complete at least 4 paintings a day at the prime of his career. He would also paint because he liked to capture a memory.
4. Vicente Manansala (1910-1981)
He was a National Artist of the Philippines in Visual Arts. Manansala was a cubist painter whose works depicted the realities of life in the country like culture and poverty. He was a member of the group of artists known as the Thirteen Moderns together with other famous Filipino painters. Among his famous paintings include The Bird Seller, Madonna of the Slums, Candle Vendors, and Still Life.
5. Benedicto Cabrera (1942-present)
Fondly known as BenCab, he is one of the most famous Filipino painters in the local contemporary art scene. He obtained his degree in Fine Arts in 1963 at the University of the Philippines. His prolific career has spanned several decades with artworks widely exhibited across the Philippines, Asia, Europe, and the United States. His four-level BenCab Museum in Baguio houses his works and paintings from other famous Filipino artists. He received the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining (Cultural Center of the Philippines Award for the Arts) in 1992. BenCab was awarded the Order of National Artist for Visual Arts in 2006. His notable artworks include Yellow Confetti, The Oriental Fan, Mysterious Woman, and Sabel in Blue, inspired by a scavenger woman he would often see and sketched from his window in Tondo in the 60s.
DID YOU KNOW?
BenCab relatively attributes to tai chi his incessant flow of creativity in painting. He learned the martial arts moves from a man while strolling in a park in London in 1983. He regularly attended two-hour classes for two years.
6. Anita Magsaysay-Ho (1914-2012)
Magsaysay-Ho was a cousin of former President Ramon Magsaysay. She was the only female member of the group of Filipino artists called Thirteen Moderns. If you want to purchase artworks by famous Filipino painters that feature women, then look for Magsaysay-Ho’s creations. She painted women with slanted eyes, morena skin, high cheekbones, and performing works like harvesting, cooking, sheaving grain, or selling fish. Among her major works are Women with Flowers, Fish Vendors, Fruit Market, Harvest, and Two Mothers.
7. Ang Kiukok (1931-2005)
National Artist Ang Kiukok was born to Chinese immigrant parents. Like other famous Filipino painters, Ang Kiukok had his distinct style which combined surrealism, cubism, and expressionism. He expressed his art as a form of social commentary. His artworks illustrated crucifixions, screams, or forlorn figures like his representations of the crucifixion of Christ and mother and child. His other notable works include Fishermen, Rosary Queen, Thinking Man, Screaming Figures, and Men at Work.
DID YOU KNOW?
Ang Kiukok’s Fishermen painting was sold for P65M at an auction in 2017. The 40 x 80-inch artwork showed three angled forms spelling out the artist’s name.
8. Arturo Luz (1926-2021)
Arturo Luz was conferred National Artist for Visual Arts in 1997. As one of the most famous Filipino painters, Luz was known for his abstract paintings of geometric designs that utilized simple colors and minimalist shapes. He was a founding director of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. Luz joined art exhibitions and biennales including the Philippine Cultural Exhibition in New York (1953), Arte de America y España (1963), the 11th São Paolo Biennial (1971), the Tokyo International Print Biennial (1974), and the 8th British International Print Biennale (1984). Some of his well-known paintings include Candle Vendors, Cities of the Past, Bagong Taon, and Imaginary Landscapes.
Filipino painters are recognized for their artistic excellence here and abroad. They won prestigious awards and participated in art exhibitions. Most famous Filipino painters were conferred with the distinction of National Artists for their contributions to visual arts. Art collectors should know more about these great talents, their distinct styles in painting, and their major artworks. You may also consider purchasing the art pieces of these famous Filipino painters to add to your collection and decorate your home or office.
Nami Art Gallery provides a platform for Filipino artists to exhibit contemporary artworks. The curated collection consists of high-quality and unique art pieces from emerging and established artists that include paintings of diverse subjects, categories, and mediums. With the gallery’s wide range of artworks, you will be able to find one that suits your taste and preference. Are you looking for a perfect painting to display in your living space? Visit Nami Art Gallery.