37 artworks of the chilean artist will be in the show at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Philippines.
Exhibition "Claudio Bravo: Sojourn in Manila"

Margarita de los Reyes Cojuangco, drawn by Claudio Bravo.

In celebration of strengthening ties between Chile and the Philippines, the Embassy of Chile and Energy Development Corporation (EDC) present Claudio Bravo: Sojourn in Manila, a landmark exhibit that open on September 18, 2012 at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. The inauguration of the exhibit is timed to coincide with the National Day celebration of Chile.

Bravo came to Manila in January 1968 with a party of Spanish royals. Madrid-based and in demand as a portraitist, he was a wunderkind who had mounted his first solo art exhibits as a teenager in Chile as well as dabbled in acting and ballet. Only 31 years old at the time of his visit, Bravo was already an accomplished artist with six solo exhibits to his name.

At the end of the weeklong celebration, his companions headed home while Bravo turned his attention to several commissions for portraits.

The fine-featured Chilean held portrait sittings at the Luz Gallery along EDSA. When he was doing a portrait, Bravo was all business, painting from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., with an hour off at noon. He was a “day painter” who worked to soft classical music, Tessie Luz said of the “disciplined and hard-working” artist. Later, he painted at the home of one of his clients, architect Luis Araneta.

Bravo’s other Manila clients included the Leandro Locsins, the Constantino Manahans, Chona Kasten, Imelda Cojuangco, and the Lopez ladies—Doña Nitang, her daughter Presentacion Lopez Psinakis, and Conchita Lopez Taylor, the mother of Gabby and Gina Lopez. In all, Bravo produced more than 30 portraits and still life paintings over his half-year visit.

Manila saw these works for the first and only time during a 10-day exhibit at the Luz Gallery in June-July 1968. This became Bravo’s seventh solo exhibit and served to cap his brief but eventful stay in the Philippines.

In the mid-1990s, Bravo recalled the experience: “I think the Philippine portraits are, perhaps, my most lucid paintings, because it was a different race, beautiful! Different colors and I could paint with colors like Matisse. [The] Philippines was the tropics, a different vision of the world and of light. There I began to dare to use more ‘electric’ colors and to enjoy color.”

The Manila portraits of which Bravo spoke so warmly would be the last major body of portraits he produced before being catapulted into the international contemporary art scene for the hyperrealist still life works—notably the “package paintings”—that would eventually define his career.

Bravo painting Conchita López
Taylor, in 1968.

Óscar M. López, Chairman Emeritus of EDC says, "In those portraits, in the glamour and spirit of the personalities he depicted, one cannot but sense the optimism, confidence, vitality and sense of pride, but also the innocence, that characterized the Philippines, and the Manila, of the 1960s."

As geothermal energy producer EDC expands its offices to Chile for what it hopes will be a long and fruitful collaboration, the exhibit commemorates the late artist on the 202nd anniversary of the Independence of Chile. His Excellency Ambassador Roberto Mayorga of the Embassy of Chile says, "We are totally convinced that - along with diplomatic, political and economic relationships - cultural links are fundamental to build bridges of understanding and unity among nations"

Claudio Bravo: Sojourn in Manila is open to the public on September 19 and will run until October 20, 2012. The exhibit will be accompanied by weekly activities on Saturdays, including a curator's talk, portraiture lecture and drawing session.

Forbes Magazine Collection
Forbes Magazine Collection
Forbes Magazine Collection