H.R. Ocampo: 4 decades of the Nat’l Artist

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For the fifth installment of its Images of Nation exhibition series, Ayala Museum launches “The Real H.R. Ocampo,” featuring works by the National Artist done in the 1930s to the early 1970s.

All works in the exhibition are from the collection of Paulino and Hetty Que. Assiduously assembled over a period of 30 years from the artist’s colleagues in the intellectual circle of the 1950s and selected patrons, with some paintings repatriated from the United States. On display are 51 paintings, works on paper, and drawings from one of the largest private holdings of H.R. Ocampo’s works.

The exhibition covers a wide range in the artist’s oeuvre throughout his life; from his Proletarian period of the 1930s and World War II to the highly chromatic works of pure abstraction in the decade before his death. During the 1930s to mid-1940s, his art reflected both social realism and formalism when he often depicted poverty-stricken humanity. It was towards the end of World War II where he began to shift towards non-objectivism, with his works becoming more flat, figurative, and organic.

Hernando Ruiz Ocampo (1911-1978) was born in Manila and is one of the original Thirteen Moderns group of artists that was formed in 1938. These artists, including Vicente Manansala and Cesar Legaspi, regrouped with additional members into the Neorealists during the postwar period. He also founded the Saturday Group, an informal artist group which endured for several years after his death.

During his lifetime, H.R. Ocampo garnered several distinguished awards—first prize awards at the competitions and exhibitions in 1950, 1951, and 1969 of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP); the first Republic Cultural Award in Painting in 1965; the Patnubay ng Sining in 1969 and Diwa ng Lahi in 1976 from the City of Manila.

H.R. Ocampo posthumously received the Gawad CCP para sa Sining Award in 1979 and the Award of National Artist for Visual Arts in 1991.

H.R. Ocampo joins Vicente Manansala, Jose Joya, Victorio Edades and Botong Francisco in the list of artists featured in Ayala Museum’s Images of Nation exhibition series. The program gathers works by Filipino artists who were named National Artists in Visual Arts. A gathering of works by this most select group of artists will allow viewers to understand the extraordinary vision and formal excellence embodied in this important national award.

Images of Nation: The Real H.R. Ocampo will be on view at Ayala Museum’s Third Floor Galleries until November 17. The museum is located at Makati Avenue corner De La Rosa Street, Greenbelt Complex, Makati City. For more information, email museum_inquiry@ayalamuseum.org or call 757-7117.

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