In the 1950s, Fernando Amorsolo would face a challenge: Victorio
Edades at the rival University of Santo Tomas would lead the cause of
abstract art. Amorsolo would publicly continue to champion the cause
of academic art, waging open warfare in the press. Relying on his long
time ally, Guillermo Tolentino, he would skirmish with the Neo-Realist
Movement, headed by Hernando R. Ocampo.
The battle would be the joined with the members of the influential
Philippine Art Gallery, the first cultural outpost for non-objective art.
Because many of its roster were also important journalists, it would
soon influence public perception in its favor. The age of abstract art had
Fernando Amorsolo would nevertheless continue to find spiritual heirs
among a new generation of artists. He would find unceasing demand
for his peaceful vistas of the Filipino countryside and the men and
women who would populate it.
One of Fernando Amorsolo’s most beloved themes would center on
maidens in the water. It would allow him to highlight the intersection of
several elements: his effervescent sunlight as it played, mirror-like, on the
clear stream and dappled the lush greenery.
The last featured Tabacalera work is the idyllic “Bathers’, which at one
time hung in the Tabacalera boardroom in Barcelona.
Dated 1953, it features a trio of water nymphs, splashing, bathing, and
drawing water. The first woman, with her back half-turned, gathers
up her wet hair gracefully. Another — the familiar young girl with a
bandana — reaches down to fill the equally familiar ‘banga’
or clay pot. A child playfully frolics in the water. Piles of wet clothes
suggesting it was also wash-day are arranged on the riverbank stones.
A thick bamboo grove provides some privacy. -Lisa Guerrero Nakpil