Conservatives and Modernists

Heading the conservative way in making works of art, Fernando Amorsolo and Guillermo Tolentino were challenged by VictorioEdades’ modern way. The conservatives follow the classical Greek style of realism which follows some rule and perspective and shows the ideal beauty of the Philippine landscape and the Philippine rural life. On the other hand, the modernists believe that art is a boundless means of aesthetic expression of an artist. The artist is free to create works of art that best show what they want to convey.It was when the American colonized the Philippines that the styles that best suits the country’s mood were romantic, pastoral, and picturesque, and Amorsolo was at the center of this imagination. Edades, the one who introduced modern art in the Philippines was influenced by the travelling exhibition of European modern art at the New York Armory hall, which showed the works of Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, and some Surrealists. Because of this, Edades found a new compass that would be his reference in art making.

If I were to imagine myself as an artist back in the day, I would prefer to belong in both movements. Both movements are contrasting, but I believe in one of life’s known philosophy: ‘opposite attracts’. As an artist, I wish to have a work with a balance of both styles with the belief that each style is a useful contribution to the Philippine’s art world. A work that has too much of Edades’ style is hard for the common viewers to understand, while a work that has too much of Amorsolo’s style might limit an artist’s capacity and freedom of expression. In a blog I’ve read, it was said that VictorioEdades stated that the conservatives’ works were ‘practically dead’, and that ‘it was done with limited technique and creativity,’ but I feel like the conservatives’ idealistic realism aren’t just plain imitation of life or of anything; it says something about Filipinos: full of hope even if the world seemed to wipe its dirty feet on them. On the other hand, I read that Edades usually depicts the multitude of violence in the world. I sawthat what the two ways of art making usually depicts show the ups and downs of life which proves the existence of a man. The combination of both styles challenges an artist to observe his community and the people that surround it, while filling it with his own aesthetic expression. Therefore works of art that has prevailing aesthetic value, and that has a chunk of both styles affectively share a new point of view about life, which is for me, a good product of art. In this way, an artwork could possibly be considered—I think—as a contemporary work of art. For example, if a piece of Amorsolo’s idealistic realism and of Edades’ use of strong emotion is present, the mass could easily understand and could be directly affected to an artwork.

The conservative school of thought may have older and more conventional styles and techniques in art making than the modernists’ style, but there are some things—particularly learning—in the past that we could carry to begin fresh and start an improved way of making works of art that could help answer the unanswered questions of the universe.


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