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Wednesday, September 26

Meet Claudio Bravo's Manila Paintings in Met Museum

It’s been a long time now since I last visited a museum. Not that I don’t like museum but because of too many activity and busy schedule that I don’t find time to visit a museum. I’ve been busy doing things that I forgot to take some time and try to have things one at a time. I forgot to appreciate things intimately and perhaps this is what my recent visit to a museum has thought me. I forgot to appreciate and take time to see the wonderful things in this world.

The amount of time spent in a masterpiece is tremendously long but that span of time is nothing compared to the feeling of contentment when the desired outcome of the masterpiece has been laid completely, beautifully and wonderfully. It’s like an explosion of emotions converged in the artwork and perhaps that was what Claudio Bravo had felt during this six months stay here in Manila. He has indeed taken his time to appreciate the beauty of the Filipino people. It is evident on his portraits of some illustrious personalities like Pacita Moreno Lopez, Conchita Lopez, Maria Lourdes Araneta Fores, President Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda Romualdez Marcos, Dr. Constantino Manahan, and many more.

Claudio Bravo in Manila , 1968
Claudio Bravo was a foreign name for me, in which he is indeed a foreigner, but what I meant was that this is the first time that I have heard of his name. Admittedly it is true! Accordingly to the facts given by the pamphlets of the museum and from the curator, Ms. Tats Manahan, Claudio Bravo was a Chilean who was born in Valparaiso in 1936 and just passed away last year in Taroudant, Morocco. He took art lessons with Miguel Venegas Cifuentes and was part of the Compania de Ballet de Chile and the Teatro Ensayo. So mainly he was an artist in almost all aspect and painting, however, became his ultimate vocation. At the young age of 17 he held his first solo exhibition. He ten moved to the southern city of Concepcion and quickly gained several portrait commissions. His earnings allowed him to move to Madrid in 1961, and this is where he perfected his craft and gained recognition for his technical virtuosity and hyperrealistic style.

Bravo Painting Conchita Lopez Taylor 1968
Conchita Lopez Taylor
According to the story of Lopez, he had met Bravo in January 1968 as one of the guests at the 40th wedding anniversary of his parents, Eugenio Sr. and Pacita. After this visit, Claudio Bravo came back again and during his six months stay in Manila he completed 30 portraiture of different personalities. He also did manage to experiment with colors as it is present on his completed portraits. According to Ms. Tats Manahan it was here in the Philippines, specifically on his Manila Paintings that he was able to use bold colors. It was also explained by Ms. Tats that most of Bravo’s work were influenced by the renaissance and the baroque style. It is really evident on the poses of Bravo’s subjects.

Ms. Tats Manahan Explaining about the exhibit
What I like most of his works are the details, his very particular with the details and he make sure to capture it on his artworks. He truly spent time in creating every detail as truthful and realistic as it looks as possible. On his portraits, you can really see the details on the face, the eye balls, the hair and the lips; on the clothes, the line mark, the crookedness, the shadows and the designs of the clothes; on the background and the added materials that symbolizes the personality of the subject, all were in full details even the tiniest part. He is truly a hyperrealist!

Imelda Marcos
Chona Kasten
Margarita delos Reyes
Ma. Lourdes Araneta Fores
Dr. Constantino Manahan
Regina Dee
Pacita Lopez
Claudio Bravo’s Manila paintings are now exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum and this is the first time that it will be shown to the public after four decades. The exhibit was themed as “CLAUDIO BRAVO: SOJOURN IN MANILA” and was jointly presented by the Embassy of Chile and Energy Development Corporation.

Luis Araneta
Evelyn Forbes
Elvira Manahan
The exhibit is open to the public until October 20, 2012. So, students, teens, dads, moms and families can still have more time to spend just a day to look at the paintings at the Metropolitan Museum.

Ambassador Roberto Mayorga with his wife and Ms. Tats Manahan
The Claudio Bravo: Sojourn in Manila was also part of the celebration of the 202nd Anniversary of Chile’s Independence. The tour was able to catch Ambassador Roberto Mayorga together with his wife inside the exhibit area. I was glad to capture a picture of them together with Ms. Tats Manahan. In its (Claudio Bravo exhibit) Ambassador Mayorga said that as well as honoring the distinguished figures of his portraits, Claudio Bravo: Sojourn in Manila is expected to “become a realistic contribution in strengthening the solid and traditional friendship” between the Philippines and Chile.

The whole experience of coming back to the museum and seeing works of arts gives me the realization that we really need to get in touch with the beauty around us and as well with our culture. As a dad, letting my kids appreciate more of the arts and culture would be one of my accomplishment as Filipino citizen and as a concerned artist. Take time to visit the museum!

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila is located at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Manila. Museum hours are from 9am – 6pm, Monday to Saturday. For information, call 708-7829 or visit
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