Imelda Marcos and Claudio Bravo: an art love affair

When I visited Ateneo Art Gallery in 2009 for the Double Exposure: Beyond Frame exhibit, photos of Imelda Romualdez Marcos immediately caught my attention. I appreciate how game she was in taking part in that photo shoot depicting how many women in the country, especially those in the political class, were trying to gain such level of prominence and influence like her. How her love for the arts, I assume, influenced a lot of her decisions and choices. I guess it also hid a lot of the loneliness and imperfections in her life.

In the 60s, one artist that caught Imelda's attention was Claudio Bravo and invited him in 1965 to the Philippines to do portraits for the First Couple. That became a reality when Eugenio Lopez Sr. and Pacita Lopez celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in 1968. Royalties from Spain and Bulgaria arrived where Claudio was part of the entourage.

Painting by Claudio Bravo
Imelda Romualdez Marcos
Graphite, charcoal and conte crayon on paper
When I saw Claudio's portrait art work of Imelda Marcos, I was awed on how beautiful it was done. You can also see this art work until October 20 at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila where the exhibit "Claudio Bravo: Sojourn in Manila" is ongoing.

That dress where a see-true like part of it was being blown by the wind - how it was captured - while the background landscape still being shown.

When I visit art galleries, I have learned early on that an artist has a message it wishes to convey through the image. How Claudio honored Imelda, even if the work was assuming to be commissioned, gave me a glimpse on a special side of Imelda Marcos that I hope to know more someday.

Claudio stayed in the Philippines from January to June 1968 to do painting commissions for prominent families in the country. He fell in the love with the country for its people and culture reminded him so much of Chile, his hometown. He was able to carry out more than 30 commissions during his stay in the country.

After Manila, Claudio made a successful exhibit in New York and got international fame. He moved to Morocco in 1972 and lived there for the next 25 years. Afterwards, he returned to his hometown in Chile until he passed away last June 4, 2011.

Claudio Bravo art works are currently on display at Metropolitan Museum of Manila until October 20, 2012. According to exhibit curator Tats Manahan, it is in the Philippines where Claudio started experimenting with color that elevated his hyperrealist style of work.

Maybe, when the politics between Marcos and Aquino is over, curated work featuring the former First Lady will be done without political bias - but an appreciation of this woman who is still, in my opinion, unmatched for her love of the arts as expressed in our various cultural sites in the country. Also, because of Imelda, Claudio stayed in the Philippines - where our culture and people - became part of this artist journey in exploring color in his hyperrealist art work.

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