Provenance: Provenance: Private Collection, Manila


Hugo Yonzon Jr., one of the major artists in postwar Philippine modernist painting, explored rendering techniques and interpretations throughout his prolific artistic career, refusing to be associated with just one particular genre and style. Back in the day, he would join the realist or the modernist categories in the competitions held by the Art Association of the Philippines, winning prizes for both. His versatility as an artist, being at ease with a variety of styles and techniques chosen at random upon creating masterpieces, mostly in oil, his preferred medium, were showcased in the Hugo Yonzon Jr. Retrospective at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2014. Also obvious in this retrospective is the popularity of Yonzon’s works due to varying styles suitable for almost any taste of each buyer. This versatility was attributed to his long experience in the advertising field. What lies constant is his subject matter: ordinary people, farmers, fishermen, karitela drivers, and vendors. His subjects are also rendered either within historical or mythical narratives. Influenced by National Artist Cesar Legaspi, Yonzon credited him for teaching him the tangents in composition. In Andres Bonifacio, the hero leads the charge in one of the first battles of the Philippine Revolution. The Katipunan’s ‘Anak ng Bayan or Sons of the People’ armed only with bamboo spears and a very few rifles, take on one of the world’s mightiest empires, the Spanish. Bonifacio points the way with a bolo in one hand, a revolver in the other. His emblematic flag is now the stern color of black, symbolizing that he would be willing to fight to the death. (In truth, the KKK colors were the ‘banderang kundiman’ or in bright red.) They target a fortress-like edifice, possibly the El Deposito of San Juan or the convent house of San Mateo. These are defended by Guardia Civil and troops (cazadores) armed with Maulers and heavy cannon. The painting captures the sacrifices and triumphs of the Filipino in the glorious Revolution of 1896.