Latest Stories

When Victorio Edades planted the seed of revolt



At the beginning of the 20th century, a revolution was brewing in Europe. It was the modernist assault in science and technology, literature and philosophy, music and dance, visual arts and architecture, film.

“Since the birth of civilization, no age has broken with tradition more radically or more self-consciously than the 20th century,” says culture historian Gloria Fiero.

The stirrings were particularly felt in the arts—the revolt against convention and tradition—and in so short a time the triumph of modernism was complete.

This was what Filipino artist Victorio Edades saw in the Armory Show (or “The International Exhibition of Modern Art”), when the touring exhibit of over a thousand pieces arrived in Seattle in 1922, while Edades was studying architecture and painting at University of Washington.

“Portrait of a Lady”

He was said to have been especially drawn to the works of the Postimpressionists, particularly Cézanne.

Upon his return to the country in 1928, he brought what he saw to the local art world by holding a homecoming exhibit of 30 recent works at the Philippine Columbian Club in Manila, with the help of sculptor Guillermo Tolentino.

It was the Filipino public’s introduction to modern art, when popular taste was still wallowing in classicism, academic art and romantic pastorals. Like the Armory Show, Edades’ exhibit was reportedly met with “shock and disdain,” and not a single painting was sold.

“MORA Girl”

Many of those from that historic show can be seen in “Images of Nation: Victorio Edades,” ongoing until July 29 on the third floor of Ayala Museum, Greenbelt Park, Makati City. These include the iconic pieces “The Builders,” “The Sketch” and “The Wrestlers.”

Seminal works of modernism

The first quarter of the 20th century was certainly an interesting time, etched in art history as a revolutionary period—when most of the major art movements were inaugurated.

Says Fiero: “Early modern artists probed the tools and techniques of formal expression more fully than any artists since the Renaissance.”

Consider the seminal works that launched those movements: Cubism—Picasso’s 1907 oil-on-canvas “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” and Braque’s 1914 collage on paper “Still Life on a Table.”

Abstraction—Kandinsky’s 1914 oil-on-canvas “Panel for Edwin Campbell” No. 1; Malevich’s 1918 oil-on-canvas “Suprematist Composition: White on White”; and Mondrian’s 1921 oil-on-canvas “Composition in Red, Yellow, Blue and Black.”


Futurism—Boccioni’s 1913 bronze sculpture “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space” and Duchamp’s 1912 oil-on-canvas “Nude Descending a Staircase.”

Fauvism—Matisse’s 1909 oil-on-canvas “The Dance.” Expressionism—Kirchner’s 1913 oil-on-canvas “Street, Berlin.”

Metaphysical Art—De Chirico’s 1911 oil-on-canvas “The Nostalgia of the Infinite” and Chagall’s 1911 oil-on-canvas “I and the Village.”

Dada—Duchamp’s 1917 readymade piece “Fountain (Urinal).” Constructivism—Popova’s 1922 set design for “Le Cocu Magnifique.”

Surrealism—Miró’s 1926 oil-on-canvas “Person Throwing a Stone at a Bird” and Magritte’s 1928 oil-on-canvas “The False Mirror.”

Informing those works was the credo that “art must be subversive—that it must defy all that is conventional, literal and trite.” It is thought to be heralded by “The Large Bathers,” the 1906 oil-on-canvas by Cézanne (whom Matisse and Picasso acknowledged as “the father of us all”).

But surely the precursor of this new subversion must be that 1893 masterpiece of Expressionism, Munch’s “The Scream.”

Those artists shared the belief that they must “evoke the essential and intrinsic qualities of the subject rather than describe its physical properties.” In pointing out the concept of “birdness” and “the essence of flight” in his bronze sculpture “Bird in Space,” Brancusi was only summing up the dictum of modern art: What is real is not the external form, but the essence of things.

INTERACTION masterwork by Edades, Galo Ocampo and Botong Francisco

Modernists vs. conservatives

Our first contact with modern art happened at about the same time as the American public’s, when Edades saw that Armory Show. But it took him a few decades before his ideas could be fully accepted by his countrymen.

Through the ’30s and ’40s, he waged a polemical war with the conservatives, as represented by genre painter Fernando Amorsolo and Tolentino, the classicist sculptor who, ironically, helped him mount his seminal show at the Philippine Columbian.

Meanwhile, he had surrounded himself with kindred spirits, constituting the group that has come to be known as the Thirteen Moderns: the triumvirate of Edades, Galo Ocampo and Carlos “Botong” Francisco, plus Vicente Manansala, Cesar Legaspi, HR Ocampo, Diosdado Lorenzo, Ricarte Purugganan, José Pardo, Demetrio Diego, Arsenio Capili, Bonifacio Cristobal and Anita Magsaysay-Ho. (They were the inspiration of former Cultural Center of the Philippines artistic director Roberto Chabet when he put up the 13 Artists Award.)

Budding local artists would do well to see the exhibit “Images of Nation,” now on its last week, to appreciate the beginnings of modern art in the country. This is the third in a series of retrospective shows organized by Ayala Museum to highlight the works of our National Artists for the Visual Arts (after Vicente Manansala in 2010 and José Joya last year).


The distorted figures and rough texture of modernism are here. And so is the composition of groupings obviously inspired by Matisse and Cézanne, as in “The Wrestlers” and “Picnic.”

Edades’ color tonality is often earthy, but sometimes it can attain the bold colorism of the Fauvists, as in “Portrait of a Lady,” “Mora Girl” and “Modern Maria Clara.” The cool harmony can range from Velázquez to Gauguin, while the warm harmony can evoke the Impressionists, as in “River View at Bas Samois.”

Edades is acknowledged as the Father of Philippine Modern Art. He was proclaimed National Artist in 1976, the award citation describing him as “the original iconoclast of Philippine art.”

And: “He changed the direction of Philippine painting decisively, ending the parochial isolation of Philippine art and placing it in the mainstream of international culture.”

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: Art , Culture , History , Lifestyle , People , revolution , Victorio Edades

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/V6PVNYINOXRDLHESBN37XGQBGQ ROMEO

    i’m proud of my apong victor

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. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  6. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  9. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  10. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  6. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  7. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  8. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  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. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • 12 dead, 96 injured in Holy Week accidents–NDRRMC
  • Filipino devotees re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  • Rouhani talks peace, outreach at army parade
  • Rains, thunderstorms on Good Friday
  • Carbon monoxide leak suffocates 20 in Catbalogan City
  • Sports

  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Can Spurs get back at Heat? Can they survive West?
  • Hopkins, 49, seeks win for the ageless
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Whoopi Goldberg debuts as marijuana columnist
  • ‘X-men’ director accused of sex assault on teen boy
  • Cannes film festival launches race for 2014 Palme d’Or
  • Business

  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Oil prices mixed ahead of long Easter weekend
  • Technology

  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Last call for nominations to ’14 Presidential Awards
  • San Francisco business coalition slams proposed tax on sugary drinks
  • A ‘time-travel’ production of ‘Les Miserable’ at Stanford
  • Filipina Maryknoll sister honored for years of service