In the history of Philippine sculpture, there was one man who single-handedly led the three-dimensional art from out of the doldrums of the classical, conservative style, that for so long had languished in the minds of the Filipino public as mere statuary of religious figures and national heroes. For his herculean efforts, he was declared National Artist for Sculpture – the youngest, at 46, to be so honored.
His name—Napoleon Veloso Abueva—the sole Filipino vanguard for modern sculpture. With his now sad demise, Abueva has entered immortality, but he leaves behind an incomparable legacy: a great, stunning body of modernist works—counting over 600 known works!—created through many decades and executed in a diversity of mediums, both organic and industrial. In particular, the variety of Philippine hardwoods—molave, acacia, ipil, kamagong, langka and bamboo—found a native expressiveness and eloquence never seen heretofore. He, too, was equal to the tremendous labor and strength demanded by the daunting challenge of metal, stainless steel, concrete, iron, brass, and bronze, as well as adobe, marble alabaster and coral. Sculpture, to Abueva, was not hard labor. . . but a labor of love
The Philippine art and cultural community thus grieves at his passing. Fittingly, with his release from this mortal coil, Napoleon Veloso Abueva has become . . . an enduring monument unto himself. –CONTRIBUTED