NATIONAL Artist for Visual Arts Arturo Luz’s geometric celebration of the world was evident in his new paintings and heretofore unseen photographs in Arturo Luz: Recent Paintings and Vintage Photographs, at the Manila Contemporary in Whitespace, Makati City last April 10 to May 12.

Inspired by scenic landscapes from his several travels around the world, Luz’s works rendered his trademark geometric lines, curves and circles. His paintings of the palaces and sceneries seen in Rajasthan, India were transformed into linear representation of the towers there, suggesting height and direction.

The sky, meanwhile, was simplified to a single hue and the occasional square-shaped sun or moon—a red sky and a black square signifying either morning or midday, or a black sky and a white square indicating night time.

Also presented were his landscapes of carnivals, portrayed through intersecting lines, curves and circles, evoking festivity.

Simplified and two-dimensional renderings of musicians and circus performers were also exhibited. Faceless figures, mostly white geometric shapes and bisecting lines painted in black, the figures were given life with circles which suggest movement and happiness.

Meanwhile, a set of Luz’s photographs taken in 1993 were showcased in the exhibit for the first time. These photographs, which resurfaced and were printed last year, were originally a set of negatives taken for an exhibition titled “Boxes Shells and Stones.” Taken using a Hasselblad camera, the black-and-white photographs displayed various arrangements of the Japanese kiri boxes and Luz’s personal collection of seashells.

Luz’s “Anito,” a wood sculpture series depicting the ancient Filipino deity in simple lines and circles, was also exhibited. Oblongs served as the head and rectangular cubes served as its body.

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Eva McGovern, manager of Manila Contemporary and the curator of the exhibit, described Luz’s artworks as an “invention of a personal vision.”

“He transforms the world around him…in a very unique visual body of work. His style has remained very consistent over many years, experimenting and venturing into many different media like sculpture, painting, photography, jewelry [and] collage,” McGovern said. “But what has remained the same is the exactness and clarity—he always knows exactly what he wants to achieve.”

Born on Nov. 20, 1926, Luz studied at the UST School of Fine Arts, the Art School of the Brooklyn Museum in New York and the Académie Grade Chaumière in Paris. He was acclaimed for his series of paintings known as the Carnival and Cyclist series. He also founded the Luz Gallery, where works of contemporary artists are showcased. One of his notable works is “Black and White,” which is displayed at the CCP Little Theater.

Luz was named National Artist in 1997.


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