Arturo Luz: The Underrated Minimalist And National Artist

Last Updated: April 6th, 2019


Arturo Luz: The Underrated Minimalist And National Artist

Arturo Luz (image credit: Philippine Tatler)


Arturo Luz: The Underrated Minimalist And National Artist

His works on display at the National Museum of Fine Arts



A known modernist that highlights geometric patterns and minimalism in his work, Arturo Luz slowly made waves in the Philippine Art scene since his first solo exhibit at the Manila Hotel in 1951. Being a well-rounded artist, he is also known for his sculptures, photographs, illustrations–and for curating exhibits.



Early Years

Born on November 20, 1926 in Manila, Arturo Rogero Luz is the youngest child of Valeriano Luz and Rosario Dimayuga–both from Lipa, Batangas. In his early years, Luz trained under the guidance of Pablo Amorsolo, the younger brother of renowned Filipino painter and National Artist, Fernando Amorsolo.

To pursue his passion for visual arts, he enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas School of Fine Arts before heading for a 3-year stint at the California College of Arts and Craft in Oakland. In 1950, Luz continued his studies at the now-defunct Brooklyn Museum Art School in Brooklyn, New York.

A year later, he enrolled at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris–the same school where the likes of English sculptor Josefina de Vasconcellos, once the world’s oldest living sculptor, studied.

With the help of his close friend, Fernando Zobel de Ayala, he received a scholarship to study at the Instituto de Cultura Hispanica in Madrid from 1953 to 1954. He then received a State Department Specialist Grant from the US government in 1963 to observe current artistic trends in the US. This was followed by another grant from the Italian government to live in Rome for a year.

In 1960, Arturo Luz married a fellow artist, Tessie Ojeda–before they established the Luz Gallery in Manila. Before it closed shop, the decades-old gallery featured exhibits of up and coming Filipino artists.



Arturo Luz: The Underrated Minimalist And National Artist

Mixed media (acrylic on burlap)


Arturo Luz: The Underrated Minimalist And National Artist

Mixed media (acrylic on burlap)




Arturo Luz is now considered as one of the pioneers of the Philippine Neo-realist movement in the 50s and 60s together with Filipino artist and philanthropist, Fernando Zobel de Ayala. He would later be known for his minimalist and abstract styles in painting before earning recognition for his sculptures, murals, and photographs.

In defining the characteristics of his works, Luz described how his work “is relatively simple; there’s nothing complicated about it”….”It involves the same problems except that I keep changing the medium. My work is linear and geometric and that’s it..”

His first solo exhibit in 1951 at the Manila Hotel laid the groundwork for his name to be recognized in the Philippine art scene. This, after his works, was featured at the Raymond Duncan Gallery in Paris, and later, in Spain. In 1955, Luz collaborated with renowned Filipino architect and National Artist, Leandro Locsin, for the University of the Philippines Chapel.

He was conferred the National Artist Award for Visual Arts in 1997–joining the ranks of Guillermo Tolentino, Fernando Amorsolo, Carlos “Botong” Francisco, and Napoleon Abueva, among others.


Arturo Luz: The Underrated Minimalist And National Artist

Untitled (Cityscape, undated)



Some of the recognition he’s received throughout his career include the:

1950s- 1960s Three 1st Prize Awards at the Art Association of the Philippines Annual Competition, California Art Association award
1955 Outstanding Young Man in Art, Manila Times
1956 A book of his drawings was published; introduction by Emmanuel Torres
1960 Established the renowned Luz Gallery (Makati, Philippines)
1962 First International Art Salon; 1st Prize (Saigon, Vietnam)
1966 Republic Cultural Heritage Award for Painting (Philippines)
1971 Represented the Philippines in 1971 São Paolo Biennial (Brazil)
1976 Founding director of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila in 1976
1978 Order of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, by the French government
1981 Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award, from the City of Manila
1984 8th British International Print Biennale (Bradford, West Yorkshire)
1987 Promoted to Officiel by the French government
1989 Gawad CCP para sa Sining, from the Cultural Center of the Philippines



Arturo Luz: The Underrated Minimalist And National Artist

Cities of the Past #2 (1997)


Arturo Luz: The Underrated Minimalist And National Artist

Black and White Still Life (1994)




The Manila Project

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  1. Ayala Museum
  2. National Commission for Culture and the Arts
  3. Tobin Reese Fine Art
  4. The Philippine Star
  5. The Philippine Daily Inquirer




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