The Father of Modern Philippine Sculpture

father of modern philippine sculpture
The Father of Modern Philippine Sculpture |

As we continue to celebrate National Arts Month, let us take a look at the life of Napoleon “Billy” Abueva — as a son, a Boholano, and a National Artist.

He was born Esabelio Veloso Abueva on January 26, 1930, to parents Teodoro Lloren Abueva, Sr., a former congressman, and Purificacion Gonzalez Veloso, former president of the Women’s Auxiliary Service.

During the war, his parents resisted Japanese rule and took part in the guerrilla movement in their fight for freedom.

On October 23, 1944, Teodoro and Purificacion were captured by the Japanese soldiers and were executed in Balitbiton, Valencia. Napoleon Abueva was only 14 years old when he and his 6 other siblings lost their parents. Despite their tragic experience, he carried on with life without bitterness and pursued his passion for sculpture.

With his prolific work and great contribution to the Philippine arts, Abueva was declared the youngest National Artist in 1976 and was recognized as the Father of Modern Philippine Sculpture.

To honor the bravery and martyrdom of his parents, the artist built a Memorial Shed in Barangay Anas, Valencia, near the site where the remains of his parents were recovered by his brother, Jose Abueva, a former UP president. This sculptural monument which doubles as a waiting shed features Abueva’s Consunji Columns supporting the roof and the iconic Abueva bench made of cement.

In addition, located near the gate of the Abueva Ancestral Home in Duero, Bohol is the Grave Site of their parents which Abueva also designed with freestanding decorative Consunji columns encircling the area.

The Award and Decoration of National Artist was created to give proper appreciation and stature to Filipinos who have distinguished themselves and made outstanding contributions to Philippine arts.

On This Day, January 26) we pay tribute to the youngest Filipino who has gained the title and rank as “Pambansang Alagad ng Sining”, Boholano artist Napoleon Esabelio Veloso Abueva, born on January 26, 1930. Today is his 93rd birth anniversary!

Billy, as he is fondly called, became National Artist for Sculpture in 1976 at the age of 46. In honor of his talent, passion, and legacy in Philippine Art, the National Museum of the Philippines in partnership with the Abueva family mounted an exhibition with 26 masterpieces from the artist’s homes in Duero, Bohol, and Quezon City. The Pagpauli (Homecoming) Exhibition at the National Museum Bohol is the largest and most comprehensive display of Abueva’s precious artworks, dedicated to his family who has supported his passion and commitment.

“Whatever desire is expressed in form, one conceives in the realm of design. The mind in the hand can falter or surpass: if you answer which one and how much was done by love.” – Napoleon V. Abueva

Today is the 93rd birth anniversary of National Artist Napoleon V. Abueva.

At 46 then, Napoleon V. Abueva, a native of Bohol, was the youngest National Artist awardee. Considered as the Father of Modern Philippine Sculpture, Abueva helped shape the local sculpture scene into what it is now. Being adept in either academic representational style or modern abstract, he has utilized almost all kinds of materials from hardwood (molave, acacia, langka wood, ipil, kamagong, palm wood and bamboo) to adobe, metal, stainless steel, cement, marble, bronze, iron, alabaster, coral and brass.

Napoleon V. Abueva is the Father of Modern Philippine Sculpture – being adept in either academic representational style or modern abstract, utilizing almost all kinds of materials. Among the early innovations Abueva introduced in 1951 was what he referred to as “buoyant sculpture” – sculpture meant to be appreciated from the surface of a placid pool.

Some of his major works include Kaganapan (1953), Kiss of Judas (1955),Thirty Pieces of Silver, The Transfiguration (1979), Eternal Garden Memorial Park, UP Gateway (1967), Nine Muses (1994), UP Faculty Center, Sunburst (1994)-Peninsula Manila Hotel, the bronze figure of Teodoro M. Kalaw in front of National Library, and murals in marble at the National Heroes Shrine, Mt. Samat, Bataan.

Read more:

You may want to read: