As one of the pioneering forces in the modernization of Philippine visual arts alongside Galo Ocampo and National Artist Victorio Edades, National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco used his linear cubist aesthetic to become the premier muralist of his time. Using composition driven articulation, Botong created tableaus of epic proportions, both in scale as well as in spirit—capturing the hightened zeitgeist of the often native subjects he portrayed.
Such can be said as well of his relief carvings, which still uphold his angular harmony and a narrative saga that speaks in his subject’s portrayal. Francisco is a storyteller, capturing and retelling the tales of old, often choosing prehistoric or native cultures, and reinterpreting them in grandiose light. Philippine Folk Dances, originally designed to be a door, features on both of its faces two indigenous dances from different regions of the country. Despite being distinctive on their own, Botong juxtaposes the Cañao dance of the North and the Singkil dance of the South and in doing so finds the connection between them in the people who celebrate it—immersed in the moment of communal spirituality and experience. Bodies stiffened and eyes closed in a trance, Botong breaks down the regional divide and reinterprets a single image of communal and transcendental spirituality.
Literature: The Life and Art of Botong Francisco (Vibal Foundation, 2009) p. 106
This artwork was recently exhibited at the Yuchengco Museum, Makati City