Sylvia Amorsolo Lazo chip off the old block
- Maria Eleanor E. Valeros () - September 25, 2011 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Even a vociferously praised visual artist like Fernando Cueto Amorsolo failed to please everyone!

Mrs. Sylvia Amorsolo Lazo, president of the Fernando C. Amorsolo Art Foundation, and daughter of the Philippines’ first national artist, revealed in a brief interview recently how her father would remind her, and the others who followed his path, to “put your mind and soul on your canvas no matter what others say.”

“Hindi rin kasi exempted si Papa sa mga pangungutya,” Mrs. Lazo confirmed during the short course of our encounter. “There were those who assaulted my father for producing the same pieces of work. Wala na raw siyang i-i-improve pa sa ginagawa niya kasi paulit-ulit na lang daw [subjects],” Mrs. Lazo said prior to the awarding and opening of exhibition of the “Fernando Amorsolo Mentor and Apprentice National Art Competition-Visayas Phase” last September 8 at the SM City Cebu Art Center.

“Just like the painters who participated in the art tilt, Papa had always been determined to finish every piece he had to work on despite the odds. Focused lang talaga siya kahit may mga critics na nagsasabing hindi na siya uunlad sa kanyang sining.”

It was learned that the criticisms stemmed from the fact that Amorsolo was considered an artist “lost in his idealism.” This is because even in the days of tyranny – or during the Japanese occupation – he painted azure skies, when he was expected to depict the grim realities of war.

“Mas pinakikinggan niya ang puso niya. He was more than ever determined to cultivate hope through Filipino art and culture. Makikita naman natin sa mga subjects ng paintings niya na ang mensahe niya is ‘may pag-asa’ no matter how dark circumstances are,” she added.

However, an article penned by biographer Edwin Martinez revealed that “during the war, Amorsolo’s younger brother Pablo, an accomplished artist in his own right, was branded a Japanese sympathizer.  He was captured and executed by Filipino guerillas in Antipolo.  This personal tragedy, in addition to the devastation all around him, weighed heavily on Amorsolo. Depictions of human suffering and tragedy [later on] dominated his canvases.” 

At the prime of his career, Amorsolo’s genre paintings were in such high demand that he catalogued his works. Mrs. Lazo said that criticisms had also fed heavily on this because prospective clients would choose the painting they wanted, and that her father would then paint a different version of the chosen subjects.

Martinez pointed this out in his article that “Amorsolo’s prodigious output was helped in no small way by the speed with which he was able to finish his work.  Part of the motivation for this incredible pace was the need to support his large family. For this, he was roundly criticized for his machine-like efficiency.”

However, Mrs. Lazo said, because her father was a naturally shy man, she had never heard him raise his voice nor took up the cudgel in his own defense. Her father just said that he had already matured as an artist and that he had nothing left to prove and was comfortable painting what he wished in the form of expression that he chose.

Amorsolo is more identified with his rich use of the yellow light — prominent in his sun-kissed rice fields; the happy, vibrant colors with Filipino countrymen as his typical lead characters. (FREEMAN)

AMORSOLO AMORSOLO ART FOUNDATION CITY CEBU ART CENTER EDWIN MARTINEZ FERNANDO AMORSOLO MENTOR AND APPRENTICE NATIONAL ART COMPETITION-VISAYAS PHASE FERNANDO C FERNANDO CUETO AMORSOLO MRS. LAZO MRS. SYLVIA AMORSOLO LAZO
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