Agustin Goy is the last remaining “classicist” from the group of Vicente Manansala.
In the early ’70s, he was the younger man “Mang Enteng’s” (as Manansala was called by his circle) closest associates.
Mostly on weekends, this small group would go outside Manila, on sketching and painting sessions. The group would venture out to the the lakeshore towns in the east, Pampanga and Bataan in the north, on day trips.
Goy often drove and painted alongside the master, which explains why some of the vistas he rendered were the exact same landscapes Manansala portrayed. The two often sat side by side.
The maestro’s influence, as mentor, on this early group was always clear and acknowledged.
Of them, it was Goy who remained staunchly loyal to the classicist tradition, painting realist figures, still life (which he calls “bodegon”) and landscapes with the same form-perfect accuracy and exacting sensibility he has maintained the past four decades, even as his contemporaries like Romulo Olazo and Edgar Doctor had moved on to expressionism and abstraction.
As the world around him changed, and even the group he once knew (the original Saturday Group) expanded and evolved, he slowly withdrew into a solitude that allowed him to continue to master his art unaffected by passing trends.
In these years, a select handful of patrons privy to his works guarded him almost jealously, like a secret, happy to exclusively consume his studio productions. His group outings became few and far between. Exhibits would almost be reluctant participation, just to accommodate the company he once kept, and only through galleries which once supported him.
Practically nothing has been heard of him since the late ’90s so that the younger set of collectors and even some older ones presumed he had passed.
In fact, meanwhile, he continues to work undistracted, cocooned in a silence of his own choosing, producing large masterful pieces of his trademark subjects.
He has produced some of the largest tempera/pastel works ever rendered locally, including a painting of a bull relaxing regally on a grassy landscape. It measures an impressive 51x 80 inches on paper.
For Manilart 2013, Goy was coaxed back into the exhibition scene. Twenty-three of his works, spanning four decades, from 1971 to 2013, form part of the collection.
To those who knew of Goy and his works, this came as a surprise, an unexpected comeback for the 78-year-old artist.
For those beholding his paintings for the first time, it was a marvel that such a classicist of an era is still around.
What both agree on is that his works are those of a master from a golden era in Philippine art. It is fortunate that this generation can still enjoy them now. In years to come they will be part of Philippine patrimony.
Select works from “Figuras, Paisajes y Bodegon” are on extended view at Gallery Nine, SM Megamall. Call 9108016.