Latest Stories

Modernist master Angelito Antonio revisits, renovates old themes


“Tindera ng Ibon”

At this juncture in the development of Philippine art, a look at the Modernist movement is not only timely but necessary.

In the article “The Artistic Identity,” in a 2010 edition of Asian Arts News,  art critic-scholar Reuben Ramas Cañete identified  University of Sto. Tomas (UST) as having a potent mix of artists led by Victorio Edades, the leader of the Thirteen Moderns, and including no less than Galo Ocampo, Carlos “Botong” Francisco and Vicente Manansala, a group that strongly competed  with  University of the Philippines for the leadership of the Filipino Modern Art movement.

Unfortunately, all those stalwarts are now long gone, along with other great Modernists, such as Cesar Legaspi, H.R. Ocampo, José Joya, Federico Aguilar Alcuaz and Ang Kiukok.

A quick survey should indicate that their ranks continue to thin as there are now only Arturo Luz, BenCab, Sansó and Malang remaining.

Because of this, there’s a need to focus on the second wave of Modernists who continue to carry the torch for Modern Art. From the UST, this group includes Angelito Antonio, Antonio Austria, Norma Belleza and Mario Parial.

It is to acknowledge their contribution to Philippine art that Galerie Joaquin has put together a set of shows titled “Masters of Modernism.” This series premieres with one of the most deserving, if not the vanguard, of this group of Modernist masters, Antonio.


“BAGOang Laban”

Antonio was born to a farmer’s family from Malolos, Bulacan, in 1939. He  took up Architecture at  Mapua Institute of Technology, but on his second year transferred to UST in 1958. There he met the esteemed Galo Ocampo, who saw talent in the young man, gave him a scholarship, and encouraged him to join the Shell art competition.

Antonio won second place in the Oil category in 1963.  It was also Ocampo who urged him to join the faculty after he graduated.  It was also at  UST where he met Manansala, his professor in Composition.

Antonio taught in 1963-1979.  He won the Grand Prize at the Art Association of the Philippines in 1964, as well as Second and Third Prizes in the same contest in 1962 and 1964.

He was included in the initial batch of Thirteen Artists Awardees of the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 1973. Among his co-awardees were Danny Dalena and Mario Parial, also from UST.

In 1977, National Artist Luz saw his work and invited him to exhibit his monochromatic paintings of native folk done in black and white at the prestigious Luz Gallery.

Similarities, divergences

Antonio’s work shows many parallels.

Like Manansala, he paints about the Filipino way of life in a strong Cubist manner.  His subjects are farmers, women, Mother and Child, fishermen, cockfight aficionados and market vendors.

Like Malang, he paints life as he sees it—native folk in camisa, pantalones, baro’t saya;  sabungero  holding their prized fighting cocks; vendors selling native fruits and vegetables, candles and balloons.

Like Manansala and H.R. Ocampo, he explores a nationalist style of Modernism. Like Anita Magsaysay-Ho, he paints folk and rural motifs.


However, the similarities end there. Art critics and historians have found Antonio’s work more aggressive and more expressionist.

In 1968, art critic Jolico Cuadra wrote about Antonio’ art: “He explodes them, rendering them in brisk, impatient strokes that shatter their natural boundaries.  They are no longer simply decorative …[but are] now fiercely emotional symbols.  The harshness of brush strokes and colors are expressionist explosions of form.”

Eric Torres described Antonio as being “good at the improvisation of the human figure.”

Today Antonio revisits his roots and goes back to themes he had explored in the ’60s and ’70s.

New energy

For “Masters of Modernism: Angelito Antonio,” he does his old themes with newfound energy.

“The works in this show are not the traditional Antonio,” he said. “I got challenged by this project and I found myself landing in a new and different plane.”

Although Antonio revisits earlier themes, he says his treatment is “more contemporary, freer, looser and less inhibited style.”

“I experimented,” he explains. “I played around with different techniques and ideas. The result is that every time I finished a piece for this show, I came up with something new, something different.  I am very happy about this body of work.”

Aside from 15 major works in color and on canvas, included in the show are four sets of drawings of three to four paintings per set and 12 monochromatic paintings.

The monochromatic paintings are a development of the well-received series he had shown at  Luz Gallery in 1977.

“It is in black-and-white,”  Cañete wrote, “that we will see the discipline and mastery of the artist.”

Black-and-white paintings need preciseness in execution. All the ingredients from  lines to massing are important to complete the composition.

The drawings can be described as “Zen in fast motion.”  The works are minimalist, almost Oriental in execution; and although Zen is synonymous with tranquility and quiet, these drawings, done with minimal lines, depict movement and action.

“Except for a small show, I haven’t done a major show like this since 1988, and that is some 25 years ago,” says Antonio. “Every time I finished a painting for this show, I found it to be something different. I myself got very excited when I saw the finished product. I am very happy with this collection because the works have a new outlook. A new twist.”

“Masters of Modernism: Angelito Antonio” will open at Galerie Joaquin Main, 371 P. Guevarra St., San Juan, on July 12, and will run until July 22. Visit www.galeriejoaquin.com or call tel. 02-7239418 or 02-7239253.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Angelito Antonio , Art , Lifestyle , Modernism

  • Garo Ungaro

    The baton then passed into your hands angelito antonio…Its your turn…

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. World bids Gabriel Garcia Marquez ‘Adios’
  3. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  4. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  5. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  8. Garcia Marquez left unpublished manuscript
  9. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  10. Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  5. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. This is not just a farm
  8. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  9. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  10. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer


  • What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  • Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  • 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  • Napoles surgery in Makati hospital successful
  • Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  • Sports

  • Mixers trim Aces; Painters repulse Bolts
  • Donaire junks Garcia as coach, taps father
  • ’Bye Ginebra: No heavy heart this time
  • UAAP board tackles new rules
  • Baguio climb to decide Le Tour de Filipinas
  • Lifestyle

  • The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  • Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  • Visiting chefs from Denmark get creative with ‘ube,’ ‘ buko,’ ‘calamansi,’ mangoes
  • Salted baked potatoes
  • A first in a mall: Authentic Greek yogurt–made fresh in front of diners
  • Entertainment

  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • In love … with acting
  • From prison to the peak of success
  • ‘Asedillo’ location thrives
  • Business

  • This time, BIR goes after florists
  • Philippine Airlines to stop shipment of shark fins
  • PH banks not ready for Asean integration
  • Stocks down on profit-taking
  • Banks allowed to use ‘cloud’
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
  • Believe it or not: Filipinos love US more than Yanks