Last Updated: April 6th, 2019
Born on January 22, 1910, in Macabebe, Pampanga, Vicente Silva Manansala is widely celebrated as one of the country’s most talented painter and illustrator. His technique and composition of transparent and translucent cubism later elevated him to be recognized as a National Artist for Visual Arts in 1981–albeit posthumously.
Manansala was the second of eight children of Perfecto Q. Manansala and Engracia Silva. At the age of 15, the young Manansala was taken under the guidance of Ramon Peralta while doing signboards for a painting shop. He went on to study at the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts from 1926 to 1930 and later accepted a UNESCO grant to study at the École des Beaux-Arts in Montreal, Canada in 1949. A year later, the French government sponsored his studies at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France. And thoughout his career, he would receive multiple grants including one in New York in 1960, Otis Art Institute in 1967, and another for Zurich, Switzerland in 1970.
While slowly making a name for himself, he earned a living as an illustrator for the Philippines Herald and Liwayway, and as a layout artist for Photonews and Saturday Evening News.
He is also widely recognized as one of the pre-War “Thirteen Moderns” who was at the forefront of the modernist movement in the Philippines. The group included Victorio Edades, Hernando R. Ocampo, Cesar Legaspi, Carlos Francisco, Galo B. Ocampo, Anita Magsaysay, Demetrio Diego, Ricarte Purugganan, Jos S. Pardo, Bonifacio Cristobal, Diosdado Lorenzo, and Arsenio Capili.
The subject of Manansala’s paintings–except for a few abstract works–include native Filipino rural setting within an urban context as well as unique Filipino subjects such as jeepneys, barung-barong, cockfighting, and women vendors. His most notable works include the Madonna of the Slums, Kalabaw, and the Stations of the Cross, among others.
Some of the recognition he received include:
- First Prize for “Pounding Rice”, Manila Grand Opera House Exhibition
- First Prize for “Barung-Barong”, Manila Grand Opera House Exhibition
- Art Association of the Philippines – Awards
- Banaklaot, 1948
- Kahi, 1953
- Fish Vendors, 1955
- Best Served, Well-Gained, 1955
- Give Us This Day, 1963
- Outstanding UP Alumni Award, 1957
- Republic Cultural Heritage Award, 1963
- Araw ng Maynila Patnubay ng Kalinangan Award, 1970
- National Artist for Visual Arts – Painting, 1981
Manansala died on August 22, 1981, from lung cancer.
The Manila Project
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