IN LINE with the celebration of the birth centenaries of UST’s two prized artists, an exhibit was launched to pay tribute to National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco and Ricarte Puruganan—two of the “Thirteen Moderns” who paved the way for Modernism in the country.

Titled Botong and Puruganan: A Double Centennial Tribute, the exhibit opened at the UST Museum of Arts and Sciences Main Gallery last Sept. 18 and will run until Nov. 24.

The exhibit highlighted murals, paintings, and sketches of Francisco and Puruganan mounted on white panel boards that emphasize Filipino culture and history. Their various styles show deviation from the conservative style exemplified by Fernando Amorsolo’s works.

At the second level of the Museum’s main gallery, a photography exhibition titled “Botong and the Angono Environs” from the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Collection is also displayed.

Celebrated photographer Dick Baldovino, also known for his portraits of the national artists, took the photographs that were exhibited at CCP last May in celebration of Francisco’s 100th birthday.

The museum showcased its numerous reserved visual arts collections of Francisco’s artworks such as the oil-on-canvas painting, “Portrayal of Andres Bonifacio and the K.K.K,” and watercolor-on-board works, “Colegiala,” “Filipina with Salakot,” and “Mestiza Espanola 2.” Works on loan from the collection of Norberto Martinez were also showcased.

The paintings such as “Filipinismo,” “Orasyon,” and “Angelus” depict the traditions of the Catholic faith and the influences brought about by Spanish colonizers. The visible light from the crucifix that falls on the Filipinos symbolizes the evangelization of the only Catholic country in Asia (before Timor Leste).

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Other paintingsreflect the communal life of Francisco’s hometown, Angono, Rizal. The landscapes and horizons show the bucolic countryside and people of Angono.

Letters dated 1960 to Botong’s physician, Dr. Jose Abad Lopez, are also on display as well as costume design studies for Manuel Conde’s  film, “Gengis Khan.”  

Early works of Francisco as a magazine illustrator are also featured.

Meanwhile, Puruganan’s works on exhbit are mainly depict oil-on-canvas landscapes. His typical subject is the Mount Mayon in Albay, with which he painted two pictures on canvas, while others are mainly about the sea. His works also portray images of workers during harvest time.

“Couple Dancing in the Field” features a couple, surrounded by fellow farmers dancing merrily during one of their harvest seasons.

Puruganan eventually pursued his passion for landscaping when he went home to his hometown in Ilocos. He became known in the field of sculpture and architectural works. He was responsible for the re-modeling of the Provincial Capitol and the Mariano Marcos monument.

Francisco and Puruganan, who both graduated from the University of the Philippines’ School of Fine Arts, were the pioneer faculty members at the old UST School of Architecture and Fine Arts, which was established by National Artist Victorio Edades in 1935.

Edades’ fervor to popularize Modernism that conveyed “reality” by depicting workers in grime and distress—a total contrast to Amorsolo’s gaily depictions of farmers and peasants—influenced Francisco and Puruganan.

Their number grew and they were later joined by Galo Ocampo, Cesar Legaspi, Diosado Lorenzo, Anita Magsaysay-Ho, Bonifacio Cristobal, Jose Pardo, Demetrio Dieo, and Arsenio Capili to form the “Thirteen Moderns.” Nikka Lavinia G. Valenzuela and Cez Mariela Teresa G. Verzosa

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