If you are a fan of sculpture or the arts, you MUST see this retrospective exhibit of Napoleon Abueva at the Metropolitan Museum, Manila. Tito Billy is my mother’s younger brother, and was always a favorite “Tito” to the nephews and nieces — how could he not be, with horse-drawn chariot rides around the U.P. oval, the most amazing workshop to play in, and an imagination so wild he was the ultimate adult kid. The quintessential absent-minded professor, he was for a time, the Dean of the College of Fine Arts in U.P., and many of today’s younger artists probably had him for a class or two and realized genius and madness are truly not set too far apart…
The self-portrait/bust of the artist up above, with the following on the plaque below it. Born January 26, 1930 (PGH Ward) and Tentative and Optimistic Date of Death November 9, 2020 (I.C.U. Makati Medical Center). He hopes to make it to 90 years old. And he’s still around, albeit less active than he would like, at 83 years of age. His coffin has been carved and at the foot of his bed for at least two decades, it is utterly beautiful, and I only worry about the pall-bearers (it’ll have to be on a horse-drawn set-up or a pick-up truck) who have to lift it when the time comes. National Artists are apparently accorded the option of being buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes Cemetery), but I wonder where he will choose his final resting place. But enough of that, more on the wonderful exhibit.
Abueva’s modern takes on the carabao are amongst my favorite pieces of all time, this smooth beast in bronze. He has similar pieces in alabaster, marble, wood, etc.
A cousin of ours, carved in hardwood.
Planting rice, a truly marvelous piece, from a private collection.
Our great-grandmother, apparently, I am guessing on the Lloren (married to Abueva) side of the family.
One of Tito Billy’s favorite pieces which depicts his spouse pregnant. This is also one of my favorites. It has been displayed in the Abueva living room for decades and honestly, this is the first time I have seen it cleaned up (for the exhibit) and it looks even better than usual.
A Ring Around the Rosies piece in bronze — so happy and carefree, subjects buck naked and anatomically correct, including the dog.
A family group executed in stainless steel, for display in a yard or garden ideally.
Tito Billy ventured into unusual pieces in wood, such as this catapult of sorts, one of several in the exhibit. Not sure if it was meant to launch coconuts at the enemy, but it simply shows that range of things that caught his fancy.
A monumental, ginormous altar made out of huge pieces of hardwood and brass or bronze. I think this one is from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum. Not my type, but again, indicative of the breadth of works he completed during his career.
A modern carving of “A Chapel” that hangs on a wall…
…two faces carved out of adobe…
…all on display on the main floor of the Metropolitan Museum. It is a nice selection of his works, presented in a very spacious and light environment.
Three nudes carved in hardwood, just look at the grain in that wood…
…Mrs. MM’s favorite piece, an “allegorical harpoon” from the permanent collection of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
One of Abueva’s iconic benches, best for public spaces or doctor’s waiting rooms as people can all sit facing different directions and not feel compelled to converse with each other if they don’t want. I want to acquire one of these benches but don’t have a place big enough to put it!
Two of our Australian cousins who were in town for a visit and we took them to the exhibit. The Abueva retrospective runs through the end of February 2014, and the entrance fee at the museum is PHP100, and well worth it.