Bravo painting Conchita Lopez Taylor in Manila in 1968Nearly 50 years after Claudio Bravo forged a cultural connection with Manila in the late 1960s, the works that many Filipinos didn’t get to see will be featured in a weeklong exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila.
Beginning September 19, 2012, Filipinos will be able to see Bravo’s paintings in Claudio Bravo: Sojourn in Manila, including some that were brought abroad by their owners.
Energy Development Corporation (EDC) and the Chilean Embassy are sponsoring cultural events to mark the 202nd anniversary of Chile’s independence on September 18 and to honor Bravo, who passed away last year. The Claudio Bravo: Sojourn in Manila exhibit will be accompanied by weekly activities on Saturdays, including a curator’s talk, portraiture lecture and drawing session.
These milestone events follow EDC’s “auspicious beginning” in Chile this year, when it undertook a couple of exploration projects as part of its international expansion.
EDC chairman emeritus Oscar M. Lopez (OML) noted: “Claudio Bravo will forever be recognized for the portraits that he painted. In those portraits, in the glamour and spirit of the personalities he depicted, one cannot but sense the optimism, confidence, vitality and sense of pride, but also the innocence that characterized the Philippines and the Manila of the 1960s.”
Now, as in those halcyon years in the 1960s, “a sense of optimism, confidence and vitality that the Philippines is finally on its way” pervades.
“EDC will strive to do its part to contribute to the realization of our promise and potential as a
county, as a people,” OML affirmed.
“We are totally convinced that—along with diplomatic, political and economic relationships— cultural links are fundamental to build bridges of understanding and unity among nations. It is our expectation that this homage in memory of Claudio Bravo becomes a realistic contribution in strengthening the solid and traditional friendship between the Philippines and Chile,’” said Ambassador Roberto L. Mayorga of Chile.
The EDC connection
Philippine-Chile ties can be traced back to as far as the 18th century, when “Chilean minted coins were used in Manila trade fairs and products from the Philippines were sold in Santiago.” Additionally, Chile, one of the most stable and prosperous countries in South America, had established its consulate in Manila by 1848.
The recent expansion of EDC in the Latin American country served to further strengthen these connections.
Through EDC Chile Limitada, the 36-yearold company began laying the groundwork for the deployment of its geothermal exploration and development capabilities in the country in 2010. Earlier this year, a crack team of geothermal specialists, geologists, geochemists, geophysicists and geophysical survey technicians flew to Chile to start development activities on the projects.
The company is presently looking to develop its geothermal exploration concession areas— Newen, San Rafael and Batea. Its business development team in Chile is also looking for “already-owned prospects available for possible joint venture or acquisition.”
Coming to Manila
Bravo came to Manila in January 1968 with a party of Spanish royals. Madrid-based and in demand as a portraitist, he was a wunderkind who had mounted his first solo art exhibits as a teenager in Chile as well as dabbled in acting and ballet. Only 31 years old at the time of his visit, Bravo was already an accomplished artist with six solo exhibits to his name.
At the end of the weeklong celebration, his companions headed home while Bravo turned his attention to several commissions for portraits.
The fine-featured Chilean held portrait sittings at the Luz Gallery along EDSA. When he was doing a portrait, Bravo was all business, painting from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., with an hour off at noon. He was a “day painter” who worked to soft classical music, Tessie Luz said of the “disciplined and hard-working” artist. Later, he painted at the home of one of his clients, architect Luis Araneta.
Bravo’s other Manila clients included the Leandro Locsins, the Constantino Manahans, Chona Kasten, Imelda Cojuangco, and the Lopez ladies—Doña Nitang, her daughter Presentacion Lopez Psinakis, and Conchita Lopez Taylor, the mother of Gabby and Gina Lopez. In all, Bravo produced more than 30 portraits and still life paintings over his half-year visit.
Manila saw these works for the first and only time during a 10-day exhibit at the Luz Gallery in June-July 1968. This became Bravo’s seventh solo exhibit and served to cap his brief but eventful stay in the Philippines.
In the mid-1990s, Bravo recalled the experience: “I think the Philippine portraits are, perhaps, my most lucid paintings, because it was a different race, beautiful! Different colors and I could paint with colors like Matisse. [The] Philippines was the tropics, a different vision of the world and of light. There I began to dare to use more ‘electric’ colors and to enjoy color.”
The Manila portraits of which Bravo spoke so warmly would be the last major body of portraits he produced before being catapulted into the international contemporary art scene for the hyperrealist still life works—notably the “package paintings”—that would eventually define his career.
Currently Bravo’s works can be found in the collections of institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Chile, Museo Rufino Tamayo in Mexico and the Museum Ludwig in Germany.
Claudio Bravo: Sojourn in Manila is open to the public on September 19 and will run until October 20, 2012. The exhibit will be accompanied by weekly activities on Saturdays, including a curator’s talk, portraiture lecture and drawing session. The Metropolitan Museum of Manila is located at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Manila. Museum hours are from 9am- 6pm, Monday to Saturday; closed on Sundays and first Mondays of the month and on holidays. For details on the exhibit, call 708-7829. Visit www.metmuseum.ph and www.facebook.com/metmuseum.manila.
Conchita Lopez Taylor
Ma. Lourdes Fores