National Museum opens ‘world’s best exhibition’ by National Artist Guillermo Tolentino

Kathleen A. Martin – Philstar.com

September 29, 2022 | 9:42 am

MANILA, Philippines — After ten years, 14 sculptures by the country’s first national sculpture artist, Guillermo Tolentino, were finally donated by the Security Bank to the National Museum of Fine Arts.

Last Saturday, September 24, a cocktail reception took place in the lobby of the National Museum, with the beautiful “Spoliarium” by Juan Luna as the backdrop.

“Now we have the best exhibition of Guillermo Tolentino that you can’t find anywhere in the world. Absolutely the best and most numerous works that you can see in a public place unless you have the privilege of going to Malacanang or a private collector’s office. You won’t find anywhere close to this number and the quality of works by Guillermo Tolentino,” said museum director Jeremy Barns.

The 14 sculptures include:

  • Model of the Commonwealth Triumphal,
  • Bust of President Manuel Roxas,
  • Bust of Lapu-Lapu,
  • Bust of President Manuel L. Quezon,
  • Bust of Hole. Andrew Boniface,
  • Bust of Gen. Emily Aguinaldo,
  • head of a filipino lady,
  • Miniature bust of Dr. Jose Rizal,
  • Bust of Bibiano More,
  • Bust of Luisa Marasigan,
  • Bust of Don Jacobo Lim Chitco,
  • bust of a matriarch,
  • Bust of Dr. Jose Rizal
  • and the bust of Boy Scout First Class Roberto Corpus Pastor.

Barns said these had been lent by the bank earlier in 2011 when then-bank chairman and now chairman emeritus Frederick Dy asked if the National Museum would be interested in including some of his Tolentino sculptures that he wanted to exhibit for public display.

The 14 sculptures are included as part of “Gallery XII – Eskultor ng Lahing Filipino: Honoring the Life and Work of Guillermo Tolentino”, a permanent exhibition, which opened in July 2013.

With the newly renovated hall painted in the bank’s recognizable royal blue color and walls depicting the Andres Bonifacio monument in Caloocan City, which Tolentino designed, the Security Bank Hall also displays the busts of former Philippine presidents Ramon Magsaysay and Ferdinand Marcos sr. The busts of historical figures such as General Douglas MacArthur and historian and official Epifanio de los Santos are also on display in the hall.

“Security Bank recognizes the important role that financial institutions play in nation building and sustainable development. Our advocacy is aligned with our mission to enrich lives, strengthen businesses and build communities. Security Bank has been a proud advocate of Philippine art and culture for many years and has been a partner of the National Museum since 2013. With the reintroduction of the Security Bank Hall, supported by the official handover of Tolentino’s pieces, we hope to rekindle interest in historical art and make it easily accessible to visitors and the community for future generations,” said Sanjiv Vohra, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Security Bank.

In addition to sculptures, Tolentino also did lithography and one of these works, the “Illustrious Filipinos”, featuring 13 Filipino heroes, including Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, and the Luna brothers, Juan and Antonio, are also part of the exhibition.

Tolentino’s certificates and plaques, as well as diplomas from his studies in France and Italy and his national artist medal are also on display.

In addition to the Security Bank, other Tolentino works were donated or loaned by collectors, including historian Prof. Ambeth Ocampo, former cultural center of Philippine President Nestor Jardin, Ernesto and Araceli Salas, and the President Manuel Roxas Foundation.

Tolentino was born in 1890 and was named the Philippines National Artist of Sculpture in 1973, three years before his death. Tolentino, along with fellow national artist and painter Fernando Amorsolo, dominated the Philippine art scene from the 1930s to the 1950s. He followed the classical style and mainly used plaster and metal to create his works of art.

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