It is artist Virgilio Aviado’s passion to preserve Filipino heritage that led him to immortalize historical and cultural landmarks around the country through his paintings. His aim is for future generations to see them through his eyes and the strokes of his brush.
This month, Aviado’s special painting collection is on view via his one-man exhibit, For Love of Heritage, at the National Commission of Culture and the Arts Gallery in Intramuros, Manila.
Aviado, who is recognized for his paintings, sculptures and other works both here and abroad, believes it is not too late to save the country’s heritage landmarks. More importantly, the man through his art also calls on the youth to appreciate these national treasures.
“I want the young ones to appreciate the beauty of our heritage landmarks because if they do, they will be the ones who will lead the preservation and protection of our history and culture,” Aviado told The Manila Times.
For Love of Heritage is staged by the NCCA together with the Heritage Conservation Society, and curated by former Tourism secretary and arts enthusiast Gemma Cruz-Araneta.
On view at the NCCA Gallery, the exhibit reveals 50 works of Aviado—from acrylic on canvass to sketches—which vividly depict his love country and his fascination for architecture.
He said, “I have always been fascinated with architecture, particularly the colonial landmarks.”
Most of the paintings on display therefore comprise of old-age structures and churches built from the Spanish era, and which remain standing to this very day. There is also a collection of paintings of ancestral homes from all over the country.
The exhibit opening on July 25 was also marked the launch of the book, The Last Bohemian, the Life and Art of Virgilio Aviado, as written by Saul Hofilena Jr. Colorful as his paintings, the book goes into Aviado’s life and experiences as a world-renowned artist.
Past and present
Aviado’s works dramatically present the beauty of heritage landmarks in the olden days, as well as the current conditions of what were once places of pride.
Among the architectural structures painted in all their glory is the Batanes Lighthouse, which comes alive with colors that capture the calm and simplicity of the landmark. The detailed painting of the Manila City Hall, too, shows the building’s elegant form, with the famed clock tower that looks over the nation’s capital.
On the other hand, the artist also painted the deterioration of the landmarks to show what could happen if they are not properly preserved. One example is the old Plaza Carriedo building, dimly portrayed in black and white, while another shows an uninviting Manila Cathedral, which fortunately is now being restored.
By focusing on the landmarks untarnished details, Aviado effectively drums up national pride among his paintings viewers. But also, by showing the contrasting images of beauty and decay, the artist’s message becomes very clear: That everyone should do his or her part in preserving the country’s rich heritage.
WITH A REPORT FROM SHEILA MAÑALAC