A UST ALUMNUS whose mother is a relative of Juan Luna taught the techniques used by the eminent artist in his work “Hymen, oh, Hyménée,” in a workshop at the Ayala Museum, Makati on Aug. 26.

In his “Hues and Textures” oil painting workshop, Eleazar Abraham “Abe” Orobia demonstrated the approach and style Luna used in the rediscovered masterpiece. 

Hymen, oh, Hyménée,” a 4.1×8.22-ft. oil on canvas completed by Luna in 1887, portrays a Roman wedding in Pompeii. 

It won bronze in the Exposition Universelle in 1889, the last time the painting was seen in public. 

Dubbed the “Holy Grail of Philippine Art,” the painting was rediscovered 132 years later and unveiled to the public in June by an art collector who loaned the piece to the Ayala Museum.

Juan Luna’s ‘Hymen, oh, Hyménée’ on display at the Ayala Museum. (Photo by Patrice Jerica A. Beltran/ The Varsitarian)

“Since [it] is only on display here for loan, it’s historic to be able to do a workshop like this…The idea is for the participants to learn about history and to emulate the master’s techniques,” Orobia told the Varsitarian.  

The UST painting alumnus taught workshop participants how to paint the head of the bride in Luna’s work during the Aug. 26 session.

‘Hues and Textures’ workshop participants paint the head of the bride in Juan Luna’s ‘Hymen, oh, Hyménée’ on Aug. 26 at the Ayala Museum in Makati. (Photo by Patrice Jerica A. Beltran/ The Varsitarian)

In the first session on Aug. 19, Orobia demonstrated how to paint the hand of the bridesmaid. 

Orobia, a former faculty member of the College of Fine Arts and Design, said Luna used a mix of modern and classical styles in his prize-winning works. 

“He used a palette knife, thicker and broader strokes, much more fluid and spontaneous strokes compared with smoother strokes, which is what we see in the followers of works by Renaissance artists,” Orobia said.

“The artist is a child of his time. We use their work because as beginners, if you really want to learn, you imitate the work of the masters so you already have an idea of the techniques instead of doing it randomly,” he added. 

According to Orobia, the meaning behind Luna’s works, including the famous “Spoliarium,” continues to evolve because of the “social realistic annotations” attached to them. 

“He is really our pride, considering he represented the country several times and not just in one competition,” he said. 

During the workshop, participants toured the exhibition “Splendor: Juan Luna, Painter as Hero” where the “Hymen, oh, Hyménée” is the centerpiece. With reports from Patrice Jerica A. Beltran


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