Wednesday, January 10, 2007

FABIAN: An Artist worth remembering

In the art circle, the name "Fabian de la Rosa" never rings a bell. It is because nobody pays attention to his works or probably, he has been forgotten for the past centuries and has never been taught or introduced to the younger generation. I also have to accept that I was not knowledgeable about him and his works and never seen one until I was involved in an artbook project of and UP Jorge Vargas Museum.

Later did I realized that "Lolo Fabian" was a vital link that bridges two generations of artists. My research on his life allows me to know that De La Rosa was the direct heir to the artistic traditions set forth by homegrown talent Simon Flores, his uncle and first teacher, and by the European-trained Hidalgo and Luna. He was also the first Filipino director of the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts (1926-38), and then became the mentor of Fernando and Pablo Amorsolo.

This little known master was the first Filipino painter that made an indelible mark to the visual art circle with the rest of the best in the world. Now, his famous masterpiece was already in the possession of the Malacanan Museum.

With the ongoing book project, I was able to meet different art lover and collectors who enthusiastically and proudly showed their collections on Fabian. Through them I have been able to understand his works, as a man and a true master of his generation. One of the collections that I had admired are those of the lovely Que couple. They have nine of Fabian's works and they allow us to take photos for its inclusion to our book project. Thru them, we are able to trace his other famous paintings that are really worth a story. The Kalaw-Ledesma Foundation Collection has the infamous "Portrait of Purita Kalaw" when she was 18 years old and it was his entry in the World's Art Fair in Spain.

The National Museum has also nine paintings of Fabian and one of those was already perceived to have been eaten by fire long time ago. Those paintings that I took with my "photog" friend were not available for display at the Vargas Museum and was so eager and enthusiastic to have it included in the book without worrying its deadline for the press.

With this experience, I have been able to discover his value and real place in the Philippine Art Circle. His contributions to the art is something the younger generation should look into and witness a work of a master that had shaped our well-known artists of today.

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