‘Granadean Arabesque’ by Jose Joya (1958) | Inquirer Lifestyle

‘Granadean Arabesque’ by Jose Joya (1958)

The “Granadean Arabesque,” a masterpiece by National Artist Jose Joya, is a horizontal abstract painting which showcases different shades of yellow, and features broad strokes and swipes of impasto mixed with sand. It is a masterful execution of texture and composition, an embodiment of Joya’s talent as a mixed-media artist and pioneer of modern art in the Philippines.

This 1958 oil on canvas with a size of 305 cm by 118 cm, was among the works of Joya showcased to represent the Philippines in the prestigious Venice Biennale in 1964. This was the first time that the Philippines participated in the world’s longest-running biennale and the leading showplace for contemporary art and the international avant-garde.

The painting is now in the collection of Ateneo Art Gallery, a gift of Fernando Zóbel. An abstract artist who was active as a painter, printmaker, mixed-media artist and ceramicist, Joya has contributed a lot to the country’s field of arts.

Many of Joya’s paintings of harmonious colors were inspired by Philippine landscapes, such as green rice paddies and golden fields of harvest. His use of rice paper in collages placed value on transparency, a common characteristic of folk art.

Joya also served as head of the committee on visual arts of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and president of Art Association of the Philippines. He was awarded the Republic Cultural Heritage Award in 1961, the Patnubay ng Kalinangan Award in 1971 and the Asean Artist Award in 1990. Joya was posthumously named National Artist for Visual Arts in 2003. —Marielle Medina, Inquirer Research INQ