Yet a time comes when a man or woman must give expression to the very deep-seated desire for beauty and truth and justice. The old verities that have motivated the great arts of the world—from Neolithic man’s attempt to express movement, energy and a moment in time in his cave-drawings of animals and men to the marvels of the monumental architecture of the Egyptians and the Mayans to the glories of Greek architecture and sculpture, literature and philosophy to the Roman structures and the Gothic spires pointing straight up to heaven and then to the Renaissance focus on man again. In his God-given magnificence.
When I asked our Director of Arts, National Artist Victorio C. Edades, what works he considered most influential, he pointed to the works of da Vinci and Michaelangelo, Titian and Tintoretto, all Renaissance artist as the ones he considered most beautiful. Yet he is considered the Father of Modern Art in the Philippines because he broke away from the imitativeness of academic art which kept perpetuating the neo classical tradition. Man has to keep expressing the truth of his time, and so through all modern “isms”—impressionism, fauvism, cubism, expressionism, abstract expressionism and whatever new “isms.” “Man keeps trying to render the invisible, visible.”
No amount of repressions can really keep an artist from expressing himself and so when the Nazis prohibited the exhibition of Picasso’s works, a coterie of Parisian artists continued painting underground. His “Guernica” is one of man’s strongest protest against inhumanity. Another Spaniard, Goya, and the Frenchman Delacroix made memorable statements for liberty through their paintings. So did Daumier who went in and out of jail, and the Mexican Diego Rivera. I’m not saying that art should be revolutionary. Art for the most part can be enjoyed for itself. The design does not have to mean something. But whatever the artist expresses himself in painting or sculpture or architecture or music or literature, he must be true to himself.
The Filipino must be true to himself artistically, politically and economically.
What must we do to bring ourselves up from the nadir of the times?
First we must face up to the problems of the times squarely, honestly, with humor if possible.
Second, we can learn from our mistakes and take a tip from countries or people who have sunk into deeper holes and resuscitated themselves.
Third, we must depend solely on ourselves and not depend on government assistance or initiative nor on outside loans. Old Filipino common sense tells us to borrow only what we can pay back; spend only what we can afford. If we see an opening out of the hold—let’s find a way to get everyone out without trampling on each other to death. Let us stop the cycle of corruption by beginning with ourselves.
Fourth, when faced with oppression, let us have the courage to take a stance, singly or if one prefers in groups, let us assert our humanity and the humanity of our fellowmen.
Last, when we reach the bottom line—let us not lose HOPE. We trust that our built-in moral and spiritual values will sustain us for the hard climb up.