The elusive Virgilio Aviado


There is a Filipino painter, Virgilio Aviado, whose trajectory I have been following since the late 1960s, when I first saw his works at a group exhibit, at the Luz Gallery, of then up-and-coming painters like Tiny Nuyda and Ben Cabrera, now Bencab, the National Artist.

I purchased an untitled drawing of an imaginary creature by Virgilio Aviado. I was attracted to that intriguing piece because I could not find its starting point, so fluid and continuous were the lines of that fantasy being, its elongated limbs were seamlessly wrapped around a bulky body. It also had a naughty yet enigmatic smile.
Today, I am convinced it was Virgilio Aviado’s secret self-portrait.

Aviado is a multifaceted and multi-awarded artist who has mastered an incredibly wide range of styles, materials, techniques, moods, themes and forms. He is also a chemist, was a university dean, a teacher, traveler, bon vivant, lithographer and printmaker.

Since that pen and ink drawing of an imaginary creature acquired in the 1960s, I have added a few more Virgilio Aviados to my collection. There is a rendition of the Metropolitan Theater on a porcelain plate, a water color of a heritage home, a Gabaldon school house and my Guerrero grandfather’s residence on A. Mabini street in Ermita, before it was totally destroyed by “friendly fire” during the Battle for Manila in 1945. Radically different is an oil painting from his erotic period when he edited Eros Pinoy, an anthology of poems and artworks that explored Filipino sensuality. Co-editors were his equally libidinous friends Bencab and writer and poet Alfred Yuson.

Aviado once said his works are codes and messages that would unravel in time; but the signals are quite clear in For Love of Heritage, his latest one-man show. Virgilio Aviado’s statement: Our precious built heritage, is gravely endangered. So, he has recorded these on canvas, for posterity, for future generations of Filipinos

The National Commission of Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Heritage Conservation Society and Zenith Medical Equipment Inc., are co-sponsors of a Aviado’s For Love of Heritage, an awesome display of 50 paintings, acrylic on canvas, of significant heritage landmarks around the country.

For Love of Heritage will be inaugurated on July 25 at 5 p.m. at the NCCA Gallery.. The book, The Last Bohemian, the Life and Art of Virgilio Aviado by lawyer-historian Saul Hofilena Jr. will also be presented during the exhibit.

For Love of Heritage will be on view at NCCA Gallery from July 25 until August 24, 2013. NCCA Gallery is located at 633 Gral Luna St. Intramuros, Manila. For details about the exhibit please contact 5272192 local 512 or visit our



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