Romeo Villalva Tabuena
Romeo Villalva Tabuena (b. Iloilo City 1921; d. San Miguel de Allende 2015) begins his professional studies in architecture at the Mapua Institute of Technology in Manila in 1939 through the encouragement of his parents. Later he transfers to the School of Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines and majors in Commercial Art in 1942. His studies are interrupted by the war and the Japanese invasion of the Philippines and he works with the Underground in the production of propaganda materials. From 1945-46, he is advertising artist doing comprehensive layouts for billboards with Bob Stewart´s Promotion House
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In 1947, he becomes chief artist of the Evening News and creates a daily editorial cartoon. During that time he also meets fellow artist Vicente Manansala. Together they work on adversting and magazine layouts and illustrations. Tabuena also becomes more interested in painting and joins the painting classes at the Univesity of Santo Tomas. The same year he has his first group exhibit at the Naitonal Museum of the Philippines. Two years later he is awarded the second prize in the Annual Exhibtion of the Art Assocation of the Philippines. He continues his artistic development at the Art Students League in New York in 1952 and at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris in 1954. In 1955, Tabuena studies at the Instituto Allende and decides to make San Miguel de Allende the base of his painting career. He maintains links with his country through participation in its major art projects, and despite his long residence in Mexico, he retains his Philippine citizenship. One of the philippine Neo-Realists he begins his career with several exhibits of drawings and watercolors at the Philippine Art Gallery (PAG), sister organization of Promotions Inc., founded in 1951. With the formation of PAG, the Neo-Realist group grows to include other PAG members. In 1951, PAG includes Tabuena in the opening group show of Neo-Realist and gallery members at PAG, his first one-man show takes place at PAG and he has a second solo exhibit, a special show of line drawing, at PAG. Tabuena also works on sign-paintings, layouts and other artworks for PAG until 1952. He has his last solo exhibit at PAG in 1952, a show of 20 watercolors. He then leaves the Philippines to continue his studies abroad. Romeo Tabuena is the first solo artist to be presented on PAG’s “Feature Wall,” followed by H.R. Ocampo, Arturo Luz, and Lydia Villanueva-Arguilla (co-founder of PAG and also known as Lyd Arguilla).
Tabuena works with different media throughout his career such as watercolors, oils, pastels, enamel paints, tempera colors, crayons, colored inks, and acrylics. Tabuena’s early style is influenced by the early Philippine Neo-Realist movement of the 1950s, a movement that many art historians consider to be one of the most important junctures in the development of modern visual art in the Philippines, the so-called Philippine Art Gallery years from 1950 to 1964. Neo-Realism in Philippines in the 1950s to mid-60s adopted a modernist approach to ‘re-presentation’, through semi-figurative distortion and abstraction. Tabuena joined in 1950 the Neo-Realist group composed of Hernando Ocampo, Vicente Manansala, Victor Oteyza, Cesar Legaspi, Ramon Estella. Mexico profoundly affected his vision and in its fusion with his Oriental heritage, he crystallized his personal and maturing style. Mexican artists Rufino Tamayo, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera greatly inspired and influenced Tabuena in his management of acrylics and style.
He is the recipient of various awards and citations, including the Golden Centaur Award from the Academia Italia (1982), Master of Painting Honoris Causa from the International Seminar of Modern Art (1982), Banniere Européenne des Arts (1984), and Medaglia al Merito from the International Parliament (1985). He is also an elected fellow of the International Biographical Center (IBC) in Cambridge, England (1980) and the American Biographical Institute (ABI, 1980). In 1987, ABI awards him the Medal of Honor. He receives the World Decoration of Excellence Medal in 1989, and Man of the Year Award in 1991. IBC elects him to the Center's 1991 International Order of Merit, and in 1993, confers him the Medal of Excellence for the 20th Century. In 2007, he receives the Medal of Presidential Merit (Pampanguluhang Medalya ng Mérito), Filipinas. In 1995, Tabuena is honored with a major exhibition sponsored by the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramírez for his 40 years of residency and dedication in the artistic life of Mexico in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. A similar exhibit in his honor is launched in November 1996 in Mexico, in cooperation with the Philippine Embassy. During the Golden Anniversary of the Instituto Allende, Tabuena receives a citation for his artistic talent and participation in its cultural events.
One of his major works since 1957 is a government-commissioned mural, Filipiniana, at the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. His other exhibits include a ten-year retrospective show in 1959 at the Philippine Art Gallery in Manila. In 1962, his successful one-man show, which is sponsored by the Philippine Government at the International Salon of the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City. In 1965, he participates in the Eighth Biennial of Sao Paulo, Brazil as the official Filipino artist and art commissioner from the Philippines. Tabuena held his second major one-man show in Manila in 1973, followed by another in 1975 in Mexico City, and still another in the Galerie Bleue in Manila in 1981. As an implementation of the cultural agreement between Mexico and the Philippines, the Philippine Embassy in a joint effort with the INBA honors Tabuena with a Millennium Show in 2000. Tabuena is considered a national treasure, and his works undoubtedly stand out among the finest artistic legacies of the Philippines. He is widely considered one of the most important Philippine artists of the twentieth century. The highest bid on Christie’s Hong Kong in November 2015 for the painting Three Beggars is 51,852U$.
Datos / Dates
Nació en / Born in 1921 en Iloílo, Filipinas. Residencia en San Miguel de Allende desde / In San Miguel de Allende since 1955.
Murió en / Died in 2015 en San Miguel de Allende, México.
Educación / Education
Instituto Allende, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, México.
Académie de la Grande Chaumière, París, Francia.
Viaje por Europa: Inglaterra, Belgica, Dinamarca, Suiza, Holanda, España, Italia.
Art Students League New York, USA.
Se une al grupo de arte de los Neo-Realista. Trabaja como artista en Promotions Inc. / Joined the art group of the Neo-Realists. Worked as staff artist for Promotions Inc.
Colegio de Bellas Artes, Universidad Santo Tomás, Filipinas. Exhibicion en en museo nacional. / Exhibition at the national museum.
Trabaja como artista principal para el periódico Evenings News (PH), crea una caricatura editorial diaramente. Conoce a Vicente Manansala: trabajan juntos en el diseño y la illustración de anuncios y revistas./ Chief artist of the Evening News; he did a daily editorial cartoon. Met Vicente Manansala: worked with him on advertising and magazine layouts and illustrations.
Trabaja como artista principal de publicidad en / Works as advertising artist doing comprehensive layouts for billboards with Bob Stewart´s Promotion House.
Trabaja en el movimiento secreto produciendo propaganda durante II Guerra Mundial. / Worked with the Underground in the production of propaganda materials.
Major en Pintura en la Facultad de Bellas Artes, Universidad de las Filipinas, Manila. Major in Painting, Fine Arts, University of the Philippines.
Arquitectura en el Mapua Institute of Technology, Manila, Filipinas.
Dibujos, Ortigas Foundation Library, Pasig, Filipinas.
Dibujos, Ayala Museum, Artist Space Gallery, Makati, Filipinas.
Rediscovering Romeo Tabuena: The Later Work, obras recientes e iniciales / early and recent works, Ayala Museum, Makati, Filipinas.
Exposición individual celebrando 40 años en México, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Ciudad de México, México.
Exposición individual, Palacio de Bellas Artes (bajo el patrocinio conjunto del Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes de
México y la Embajada de las Filipinas), Ciudad de México, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Galería Marstelle, Ciudad de México, México.
Romeo Tabuena: 30 años de su vida artística en México, Instituto Allende, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Centro Cultural el Nigromante, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Galerie Bleue, Manila, Filipinas.
Romeo Tabuena, Centro Cultural el Nigromante, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Galería Merril Chase, Chicago, USA
Romeo Tabuena, Galería Terre-Haas, Ciudad de México, México.
Exhibición Acrílicos, Galerie Bleue, Manila, Filipinas.
Romeo Tabuena, Primera exposición individual importante en Filipinas desde 1959, Galería Bleue, Manila, Filipinas.
Romeo Tabuena, Colección privada de obras anteriores, Gallery One, Greenhills, Filipinas.
Romeo Tabuena, Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramírez, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Galería de Arte Misrachi, Ciudad de México, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Galería Tasende, Acapulco, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Exposición individual, Palacio de Bellas Artes (bajo el patrocinio conjunto del Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes de México y la Embajada de las Filipinas como implementación inicial del acuerdo cultural entre los dos países/ sponsored by the Philippine Embassy as part of a cultural exchange agreement with Mexico), Ciudad de México, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Exposición individual al honor del general Rómulo de las Filipinas, Centro de la Amistad Internacional, Guadalajara, México.
Romeo Tabuena, 2° Exposición Individual en el Salón Internacional del Palacio de Bellas Artes bajo el patrocinio de la Embajada de las Filipinas, Ciudad de México, México.
Exposición inaugural Tabuena, Galería del Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramírez, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Galería Tasende, Acapulco, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Galería Tasende, Acapulco, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Galeria San Miguel, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Exposición inaugural, Galería Moore Kay, San Francisco, California, USA.
Romeo Tabuena, Invitación especial por Millard Sheets, Scripps College, Claremont, California, USA.
Romeo Tabuena, Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramírez,, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Obras en acrílico, Galería San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Los Tres Gallery, Longview, Washington, USA.
Romeo Tabuena, Moore Gallery, San Francisco, California, USA.
Romeo Tabuena, Nombrado comisionado adjunto y participación como artista oficial en el Octavo Bienal de Sao Paulo, Brasil.
Romeo Tabuena, Helen Arthur Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Romeo Tabuena, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, USA.
Inauguración con Romeo Tabuena, Turuk Wasserman Galería de Arte, Ciudad de México, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Galería San Miguel, San Miguel de Allende Guanajuato, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Elms Gallery, Midland, Texas, USA.
Romeo Tabuena, Instituto Cultural Mexicano Norte-Americano, Ciudad de México, México.
Tabuena: Pinturas / One-Man Show of Drawings, Scripts College, California, USA.
Tabuena, Galería Arte Misrachi, Ciudad de México, México.
Romeo V. Tabuena, Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramírez, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Salón Internacional del Palacio de Bellas Artes bajo el patrocinio de la Embajada de las Filipinas / sponsored by the Philippine Embassy, Ciudad de México, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Mecca Gallery, San José, California USA.
Romeo Tabuena, Highgate Gallery, Orange New Jersey, USA.
Romeo Tabuena, Paul Rivas Gallery, Los Angeles, California, USA.
Romeo Tabuena, Amerillo Gallery, Texas e Instituto Cultural Hispano Mexicano, Ciudad de México, México.
1960: PAG publica monografía Tabuena sobre la Exposición. / PAG published Tabuena monograph by Lyd Arguilla based on the 10 year retrospective show.
1960: Exhibición de la monografía en Amerillo Gallery, Texas, USA y en el Instituto Cultural Hispano Mexicano, Ciudad de México, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Exposición de Diez años en Retrospectiva Tabuena / Ten-year retrospective Exhibition, Philippine Art Gallery (PAG), Manila, Filipinas.
Filipiniana, Comisión Gubernamental: Mural Filipiniana en la Embajada de las Filipinas, Washington D.C., USA.
Romeo Tabuena, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato 450º 450 Aniversario, Centro Cultural “El Nigromante”, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, México.
Romeo Tabuena, Associated American Artists Gallery, New York, USA.
Romeo Tabuena, Carnegie Endowment Center, New York City, USA.
Romeo Tabuena, Village Art Center, New York City, USA.
Romeo Tabuena, Galería de Arte de las Filipinas, Manila, Filipinas.
Imagining Identity, exhibición de obras de las colecciones de Paulino y Hetti Que, Finale Art File, Manila, Filipinas.
Exposición de las Naciones: Filipinas, Museo Modelo de Ciencias e Industria, Ciudad de México, México.
Christmas Treasures: A Special Collection from Masters of Yesterday and Great Works of Today, Galería Duemila, Pasay City, Filipinas.
Suddenly Turning Visible: 40th anniversary Cultural Center of the Philippines, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Pasay City, Filipinas.
Cubisme: l'autre rive: Resonances en Asie, Maison de la culture du Japon à Paris, Francia. [exhibiciones en Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore]
Filipiniana, exhibición histórica y antropológica con arte del siglo 19 y 20, organizado por el ministerio Español de Cultura y en colaboración con Casa Asia (año España-Filipinas 2006), Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid, España.
Cubism in Asia, Singapore Art Museum, The National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo, The Japan Foundation, The National Museum of Contemporary Art South Korea, Singapur.
The Biggest Little Room, Ateneo Art Gallery, Quezon City, Filipinas.
Millenium Show, Palacio de Bellas Artes (bajo el patrocinio conjunto del Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes de México y la Embajada de las Filipinas), Ciudad de México, México.
Presentado en el Aniversario de 50 años del Instituto Allende, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, México.
Convergencias de Pintores (1962-1992), 450º Aniversario, Centro Cultural “El Nigromante”, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, México.
Tokyo International Art Show, Tokyo, Japón.
100 Years of Philippine Painting, Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, USA.
Expo Ochenta y Tres, New York, USA.
Bienal Iberoamericana de Pintura, Ciudad de México, México.
Contemporary Art in the Philippines, exhibición inaugural, Contemporary Art Museum of the Philippines (CAMP),Pasay City, Filipinas.
Twenty Years of Philippine Art: 1946-1966, inauguración de la galería Luz Gallery, EDSA, Makati, Filipinas.
Participación en el Octavo Bienal de Sao Paulo, Brasil.
Exhibición, Galería Alfredo Santos, Guadalajara, México.
Exhibición, Thayer Gallery, Taos, New Mexico, USA.
Obras seleccionadas, Galería E.B. Crocker, Sacramento, California, USA.
Obras seleccionadas, Galería Arte Moderno, Ciudad de México, México.
Collective Art Show, Whitney Museum, New York, USA.
Collective Art Show, Mezzanine Art Gallery, Oakland, California, USA.
Collective Art Show, Lynn Kottler Gallery, New York City, USA.
Medalla presidencial del mérito (Pampanguluhang Medalya ng Mérito) / Presidential Medal of Merit, Filipinas.
Premio Internacional de Arte / Internationa Award in Visual Art, Chicago Hall of Fame.
Nominado Premio Eugenio Garza Sada, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, México.
Premiado con el Premio PANAMA NG FILIPINO del Presidente de Filipinas por haber traído honor y distinción a su país con su profesión / Pamana ng Pilipina Award, Presidential citation given during the Month of Overseas Filipinos.
Medal of Excellence for the 20th. Century.
Tokyo International Art Show, Tokyo, Japón.
Instituto Biográfico Americano lo seleccionó para el / IBC elected him to the Center's 1991 International Order of Merit.
Man of the Year Award
World Decoration of Excellence Medal, Medal American Biographical Institute (A.B.I.)
Medal of Honor, A.B.I.
Medaglia al Mérito, International Parliament.
Bannière Européenne des Arts.
Presio Mundial / World Prize, Commitee for the World Culture Prize of Letters, the Arts and the Scienes of the Centre of Studies and Research, Salsomaggiore, Italia.
Elegido Socio Vitalicio del I.B.C.
Estatua de la Victoria, Premio Mundial de Cultura, Parma Italia.
Aparecen en Cinco mil Personalidades del Mundo, Instituto Biográfico Americano.
El Centauro Dorado de L´Academia Italia.
Maestro de Pintura Honoris Causa, título conferido por el Seminario Internacional del Arte Moderno.
Electo Académico de la Academia de Arte en Italia con Medalla de Oro por sus logros en el arte Internacional.
Fue electo socio Académico del I.B.C., Cambridge, Inglaterra Elected Fellow American Biographical Institute
Mejor ilustración del arte contemporáneo de la ¨escuela mexicana¨, colección General Motors de México, Texas Quarterly
Ganador del Premio anual para su obra Hombre con Gallo, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, México. / First prize, Man with Rooster, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Nombrado comisionado adjunto y participación como artista oficial en el Octavo Bienal de Sao Paulo, Brasil. / Art Commissioner and Participating Artist, 8th Biennial of Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Filipiniana, mural encargado por la embajada Filipina en Washington D.C. / Filipiniana, commissioned mural, Philippine Embassy, Washington, D.C.
Primer premio / First prize, Village Art Center, New York, USA
Mención honorable por su obra Black Christ, Quinta exposición anual de la Asociación de Arte Filipinas. / Honorable Mention, Black Christ, Fifth Annual Art Exhibition, Art Association of the Philippines.
Primer premio para su obra Carabaos, Caltex Art Awards. / First Prize, Carabaos, Caltex Art Awards.
Segundo premio para su obra Agnus Dei, Exhibición Anual de la Asociación Artística de Filipinas. / Secon Prize, Agnus Dei, Second Annual Art Exhibition, Art Association of the Phillippines.
Philippine Embassy, Washington D.C., USA
Honolulu Museum of Art, Hawai, USA
Museo de Bellas Artes México, Ciudad de México.
MoMA Ciudad de México, México.
MoMA Sao Paulo, Brasil.
Ayala Museum, Filipinas
5000 Personalities of the World, IBC Cambridge England
Artistas Plásticos Mexicanos
Biography International, India
Contemporary Philippine Art, Manila
Dictionary of International Biography
Historia del Arte Contemporáneo, Academia de Italia
History of International Art, University of Italy
International Book of Honor, american Biographical Institute
International Register of Profiles
International Who's who in Art, Inglaterra
Men of Achievement
Personaggi Contemporanei, Italia
Who´s Who in American Art
Tabuena works with different media throughout his career such as watercolors, oils, pastels, enamel paints, tempera colors, crayons, colored inks, and acrylics. In 1949 his art shifts from traditional genre to a more modern idiom. One of his earliest paintings, Barun-Barong, a small oil dated 1949, exhibited at the 10 year retrospective in 1959, marks Tabuena's point of departure from traditional genre to expressionist modern. Tacky, clapped-on, improvised dwelling, raised from war wreckage and odds and ends of army surplus materials, the barung-barong was a ubiquitous object in Philippine landscape soon after the war. Tabuena, like many of his contemporaries, used the subject over and over again for many years after the liberation
He works on experimental colors in oil, such as in his color studies Heat, Green Symphony, Blue Kiss, Shadows, Red Lighting, Charcoal Vendors and Street Sweepers. The last two transcend mere color experimentation and are finished paintings, plastically satisfying. From simplification of colors Tabuena turns next to the breaking down of forms and from there he begins his broken-color planes series (1951). In that year Tabuena painted two landscapes Roads and Pathways and Workers in thin brush strokes which marked the beginning of his style to be used often in his watercolors, oils and wood paintings. Roads And Pathways is a landscape done in thin brushwork as opposed to the impasto technique he has been working with so far. These two paintings are again exercises in the manipulation of plastic elements, are an early key to a personality that often baffles by its sudden turns of mood and pace and its seeemingly antithetic directions. Tabuena's thin brushwork in Roads And Pathways reappeareas in his later wood paitings (1951), and still later in Philippine Family (1952). The crude color planes in Workers are developed into the color planes series of 1951. Before going into the logical sequence indicated by his oils Tabuena switches to watercolor, using an old technique, the single-wash method, but in a manner of his own. Instead of following the usual routine of overlapping a second or a third wash over the first he applies prepared greys just once over whatever area he needs the color on. The results are paintings of a startingly fresh and crisp quallity. Tabuena returns in later watercolors to the overlapping technique, but not for corrective purposoes but for continuation of the painting process, for achieving transparency, interval and rhythm. He is best known for his watercolor period from 1952 to 56, at times in a vertical format influenced by Chinese painting. As a result, his broken-color planes series in oil (1951) Feeding Time, Talipapa, Children Playing, Rice Pounding and Hapunan gain a new transparency and fresheness derived from the watercolor discipline. He continues to switch back and forth between oil and watercolor. During that time, Tabuena begins to evolve an oriental style neither Japanese nor Chinese, yet deriving from and advancing both. Using Philippine forms as reference, he finally succeeds in defining a departure from the landscape cliches to which, for a long time, Philippine genre painting has been shackled. Paintings of this style include Kawayan at Hangin, Mood in Lavender, Carabaos and Huts, Umbrellas in the Sun and Umbrellas in the Rain. They presage the flowering of a sensibility and technique that are to unfold the following year and in a foreign country (1952).
Vaqueros marks the beginning of the carabao series. It is a synthesis of precious improvisations, and an introduction to a fresh concept and philososphy of space. Besides being preoccupied with carabao forms TAbuena at this time is also intrigued by the possibilites of working wood grain into his design. An example is the little plywood painting Stampede. Before Tabuena there was no-one who painted carabaos like that. Other paintings of the carabos series include Carabaos in Blue and Carabaos in Pink, both of the extend the plastic experiment of the smaller paintings. The last paintings of his color-planes phase are Pasko and Ancestors. Pasko is a refinement and extension of the chunky forms of Talipapa which began the color planes. Ancestors is the flattened extension of the chunky forms of Pasko.
Tabuena’s early style is influenced by the early Philippine Neo-Realist movement of the 1950s, a movement that many art historians consider to be one of the most important junctures in the development of modern visual art in the Philippines, the so-called Philippine Art Gallery years from 1950 to 1964. Neo-Realism in Philippines in the 1950s to mid-60s adopted a modernist approach to ‘re-presentation’, through semi-figurative distortion and abstraction. Tabuena joined in 1950 the Neo-Realist group composed of Hernando Ocampo, Vicente Manansala, Victor Oteyza, Cesar Legaspi, Ramon Estella. They discussed and criticized each other's work in Sunday sessions. During that time he also continued to work as a staff artist for Promotions Inc. He was also involved in the formation and shows of the Philippine Art Gallery until he left the Philippines in 1952 to broaden his studies abroad.
During his studies at the Art Student League in New York in 1952-54, Tabuena paints Filipino scens from memory with elongated huts and thin legged carabaos, yet he also depicts New York subways, street corners and crowds. He also executed series of lithographs, directly designing on the stone. During his European tour (England, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, Holland, Spain and Italy) and his studies at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris, he paints a lot of nude sketching and black and white wash-dry sketches of European scenes. Tabuena got much acclaim for his unique near-monochromatic watercolor landscapes of nipa huts, farmers, and carabaos, with attenuated figures spread out in large tonal areas suggesting early morning fog. In his early work, Tabuena had another side to his art, and this was expressed in dark oil paintings, some of which seemed to reflect the “proletarian” concerns of the period, as in Coal Gatherers. Here the figures are short and squat, with expressionist distortion and with no bright colors to relieve the heavy atmosphere