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About Cesar Legaspi
Cesar Legaspi is one of the pioneers of modern art in the Philippines. He belonged to two artist groups “Thirteen Moderns” and “Neo-realists”, art groups which instrumented the acceptance of modernism in the country when people were used to realism. Legaspi’s art uses Cubism, an art approach using distortion and fragmentation that create a harmonious piece. Although Cubism originated in the West, Legaspi’s works were of Filipino context through his experiences and observance of the Philippines before and after World War I.
Although studied painting in the UP School of Fine Arts, he shifted to advertising and first pursued a career in the commercial landscape. Legaspi started as an artist at the Elizalde Company but later on influenced to continue painting through his encounter with Hernando Ocampo in Rizal Avenue. The post-war state of Manila became a perfect environment for modern art to flourish. The debris and fragments left by the battle behind created subjects, hues and moods which later became the works of Legaspi and his colleagues which include “Stairway to Heaven”, “Gadgets” and “Man and Woman”. Legaspi’s inspiration for his works can also be traced back to his early experience to physical pain and struggle as he has undergone surgery and frequent medication. The human torso, a common element in Legaspi’s works, is illustrated in various theme including labor and struggle. These works include “Diggers”, “Wood Gatherers” and “Kargador”.
Legaspi worked as an art director and magazine illustrator until 1968. Legaspi’s evolution as an artist can also be juxtaposed with the development of visual art in the Philippines as he also has works which were commentaries to the Martial Law era through the themes of struggle and nightmare. This hindered him in being a National Artist awardee during the regime until former President Corazon Aquino conferred him the award in 1990.
Samson, D. (2015). Cesar Legaspi: Body of Work. In Cesar Legaspi: The Brave Modern. Ayala Museum Inc.
(National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 2015)
(Cesar Torrente Legaspi)