ALTHOUGH well known for his impressive architectural works such as the Manila Post Office and the Jones Bridge, Juan Arellano was also the first modernist painter in the Philippines. And with Drawing Spaces, the third exhibit arranged by his family since his death, Arellano’s mastery of the arts assumes a different form.

The exhibit, on display at the Lopez Memorial Museum until April 8, chronicles Arellano’s life as a painter with over 80 of his works in canvas.

Utilizing mostly the expressionist mode in his works, majority of Arellano’s oeuvre portray landscapes buildings. “A Venetian Bridge,” “Basilica Constantino, Roma,” and “Rome” showcase the places Arellano had traveled to in his younger years. Arellano had studied architecture at the Drexel Institute in Philidelphia, the University of Pennsylvania, and Beaux-Arts School of New York.

Arellano’s devotion to architecture is also seen in “Perspective 1” and “Perspective 2,” which shows his design for a structure.

However, Arellano’s skills go beyond painting sceneries. In “Family Portrait,” he depicts his children playing in the field. The image of his wife and the artist are concealed in the blurred colors in the background.

Arellano’s fascination for detail is best seen in the intricate face portraits such as “Juanita,” “Gloria,” and his “Self-portrait.”

The collection also includes a multimedia display made by Arellano’s grandson, visual artist Datu Arellano, featuring the elder Arellano’s known works both in painting and architecture.

Arellano, born on 1888, was the architect of several significant structures in Manila. He worked on the Legislative Building in 1918 and later finished the Manila Post Office and the Metropolitan Theater in 1930. He was president of the Philippine Institute of Architects in 1947, and the director of the National Pantheon Board from 1950-54. He passed away in 1960.

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