Landscape by Dominador Castañeda | Photo by Bengy Toda III
This week’s Art Stroll Sunday, the National Museum of the Philippines features the oil painting “Landscape” (The University of the Philippines site in Diliman),” a circa 1951 work by Dominador Castañeda (1904–1967)
Landscape (The University of the Philippines site in Diliman) Circa 1951
Oil on lawanit board
The painting depicts the landscape of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman campus sometime in 1941.
While it focuses our attention on the tree and shrubs leading to it, we can see from a distance the first of two buildings constructed in the newly acquired 493-hectare university campus in Diliman, Quezon City. These were Malcolm Hall (College of Law) and Benitez Hall (College of Education), the oldest among the identical buildings mirror imaging each other around the Academic Oval.
Designed by Architect Juan Arellano in the neoclassical style, he was head of Public Works and famously known for the beautiful buildings he designed in Manila, including the Manila Central Post Office, the Manila Metropolitan Theater, and the Old Legislative building that houses the National Museum of Fine Arts.
Dominador Hilario Castañeda was born on April 8, 1904 in Santa Cruz, Manila. He studied at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Quiapo, Manila, completing his art education from the UP School of Fine Arts in 1924 and Art Studies at Chicago Art Institute in 1925. In 1931, he returned to the UP School of Fine Arts as a teacher and later became its director in 1956 to 1961 after National Artist Guillermo Tolentino’s term.
He wrote and published Art in the Philippines in 1964 and was known as a friend and contemporary of National Artist Fernando Amorsolo. Despite his association with latter, Castañeda deliberately deviated from being identified with his style that subsequently was labeled as the Amorsolo School. Hence, the absence of the usual sweet impressionist colors of Amorsolo, but a rather more realistic white and light blue tones are found in Castaneda’s landscape.
The artist had held joint exhibitions with Amorsolo at the Manila Hotel in 1934, and a retrospective at Galerie Blue in 1971. He received the first prize from the Philippine Free Press national competition in 1936 and the first prize for Treasury note design from the Central Bank of the Philippines in 1949. The City of Manila bestowed upon him the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award in 1971. On November 27, 1967, Castañeda died at the age of 63.
This landscape painting of Dominador Castañeda is currently on display at the Second Floor, Northwest Wing Hallway Gallery of the National Museum of Fine Arts. However, the National Museum of the Philippines remains closed to the public due to quarantine restrictions. You may access features of the Museum by visiting its website: www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph., from the National Fine Arts Collection (NFAC).