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Biyaya ng Lupa: Amorsolo’s Landscapes of Abundance

Fernando Amorsolo reached his creative peak as a painter during the American colonial period. This was a time of prosperity and abundance in the Philippine countryside, resulting from the country’s blooming export trade to the American market. By 1935, America was importing 83 percent of agricultural exports from the Philippines. Rice (palay) was the country’s most abundantly grown crop.

This period was also a time of nationhood in counterpoint to American colonial rule. Amorsolo pioneered the use of impressionistic techniques and shimmering sunlight on pastoral landscapes in painting idyllic country scenes, beautiful maidens, and colorfully dressed peasants planting or harvesting rice. This national nostalgia for the Philippine rural life was also expressed in creative art forms like poetry, prose, music, dance, and fashion.

By 1928, Amorsolo dominated the local art scene. He made a living out of painting commissioned portraits and genre pieces for select clients, while continuing visits to the countryside to paint his landscapes of abundance. The artist painted and sketched more than 10,000 pieces in his lifetime. His works remain significant in the development of Philippine art and the formation of Filipino notions of self and identity—idealized images of the true Filipino that persist today.

This exhibition features eighteen genre and historical paintings by Fernando Amorsolo and runs from March 11 to June 1, 2014 at the Third Floor Galleries under the exhibition program Pioneers of Philippine Art.

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