“Genius has no country, genius burst forth everywhere, is like light and air — the patrimony of all; cosmopolitan as space, as life as God.” ~ the words of Jose Rizal to the Spaniards who belittled Juan Luna’s exceptional talents because of his brown skin.
A pioneer in Philippine artistic expression, Juan Luna was the first Filipino artist to receive international recognition for his works. Visiting the restored Luna ancestral house in Badoc and viewing his masterpieces, albeit reproductions, was an amazing experience.
After the recent tragic hostage-taking incident, I was hurt that the world sees mediocrity as the new face of the Filipino people. Today, after studying Luna’s splendid artworks, artworks that were accomplished during the so-called frailocracy, it got through my head… there is so much hope, we can be a great nation again…
“Parisian Life” aka “Interior d’un Cafi” was bought by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) for 46M at Christie’s auction in Hong Kong in 2002. The details in the chef d’oeuvre are extraordinary. The 1892 painting used to belong to the daughters of Katipunan heroes Julio Nakpil and Gregoria de Jesus. Chris Eduarte, the museum technician at the Juan Luna Shrine, says, “The woman might be the mirror image of the Philippines as seen in a map; Juan Luna was a sailor in his early years.”
“El Violinista” The broken string and the bare feet, if you notice, make it more dramatic. Some say that the boy must be his brother, Manuel, who was a violinist.
The boy is Andrés Luna de San Pedro, the only son of Juan Luna and Paz Pardo de Tavera. His sister, Bibi, died in infancy. Andrés, a painter and an accomplished architect (designer of the Arlegui House, the residence of former president Corazon Aquino during her term), was married to Grace Mcrae. The couple didn’t have a child.
Juan Luna with our beloved Jose Rizal and Valentin Ventura, who lent Rizal money for the publication of El Filibusterismo, the sequel to Noli Me Tangere.
The Luna House was fully restored in 1977. Several pillars, made with lime and egg whites, are still the original.
but only if, synchronously, we throw into oblivion the monkey wrenching crab mentality and lift our hands up in the air and reach for the stars.