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Metropolitan Museum: Sojourn in Manila, the Claudio Bravo’s Eloquent Portraits

Day by day, as I grow older, I learned new things and still learning more about life. Learning such as appreciating things and become passionate on stuff that surrounds me. It may sound absurd but that thing is genuine from reality. I’ve become someone who finds thing from boring to awesomely booming!

Indeed! Life is so colorful and full of surprises, from simple to extravagant, but most of the times it is at its finest with eloquent people. Yeah, this was how I interpret Claudio Bravo’s paintings the moment I saw them at Metropolitan Museum of Manila last Saturday, September 22. From a simple charcoal, paper, pencil, pastel and crayons he turns everything into a magnificent artworks.

But before I proceed with the prominent Manila paintings, I want to share a little information about the artist Claudio Nelson Bravo Camus. Bravo was born in Valparaiso, Chile in 1936 and passed away last year in Taroudant, Morocco. He took art lessons with Miguel Venegas Cifuentes and was a part of Compania de Ballet de Chile and the Teatro Ensayo. Painting, however, would become his ultimate vocation. At 17, he held his first solo exhibition. He then moved to the southern city of Concepcion and quickly gained several portrait commissions. His earnings would allow him to move to Madrid in 1961, where he perfected his craft and gained recognition for his technical virtuosity and hyperrealistic style.

In 1968 Bravo’s visit the Philippines again to attend and grace the 40th wedding anniversary of Eugenio Lopez Sr. and Pacita together with Spanish and Bulgarian royalty. A change of environment would have been a “breath of fresh air” for Bravo who was eager to discover new things. Of course, as being hospitable people of the Philippines, the artist felt familiar warmth which reminded him of his native Chile. He fell in love with the distinct Filipino history and imagery that made him to stay in Manila for 6 months.

During his stay, from January to June of 1968, he completed about 30 portraits of prominent figures with iconic realism that can instantly tell a story. And below are some of the eloquent portraitures that certainly reflected the frivolity of the elite which is also evokes the utter humanity of each sitter.

Claudio Bravo
right: Pacita Moreno Lopez left: Imelda Romualdez Marcos
1968. Manila. Graphite, charcoal and conte crayon on paper.

Claudio Bravo
right: Maria Lourdes Araneta Fores left: Chona Recto Casten
1968. Manila. Graphite, charcoal, conte crayon and pastel on paper.
Claudio Bravo
right: Conchita Lopez Taylor (1968. Manila. Graphite, charcoal, conte crayon and pastel on paper.)
left: Regina Dee (1968. Manila. Oil on wood.)

Claudio Bravo
right: Luis Araneta left: Dr. Constantino Manahan
1968. Manila. Graphite, charcoal, conte crayon and pastel on paper.

Claudio Bravo
1968. Manila. Graphite, charcoal and conte crayon on paper.

Claudio Bravo
Margarita Delos Reyes Cojuangco
1968. Manila. Graphite, charcoal, conte crayon and pastel on paper

Claudio Bravo
Elvira Ledesma Manahan
1968. Manila. Graphite, charcoal, conte crayon and pastel on paper.

I was so lucky that I was able to see Bravo’s finest portraits and fortunate because Curator Tats Manahan also with us who toured us around the Metropolitan Museum while telling a story behind every canvas. Ms. Tats noted that the “foreshadowing of the techniques he used in these works can already be observed in the Manila portraits,” the existence of which “are a little known fact in the international art world.”

For the first time in more than four decades, the Manila paintings of Claudio Bravo will be exhibited in Metropolitan Museum that is both tribute to an important hyperrealist artist and a celebration of the ties between two nations. These works are one of the focal points of Claudio Bravo: Sojourn in Manila. Twenty-nine of Manila's luminaries lent their portraits to make the exhibit a reality.

See? A wonderful work of hand! As I’ve seen these paintings I was at awe. I feel like that I am walking in an era where these beautiful and sophisticated people are. It was more of knowing the history through these wonderful portraits. What I realized is that, paintings are really a living proof on how good or bad the person was. And what I noticed about Bravo’s work was the way he put life on every portraits. If you’ll see them, it has life, the colors, the poses and the aura made every painting such a luminous piece.

Moreover, Claudio Bravo: Sojourn in Manila will be accompanied by weekly activities on Saturdays, including a curator’s talk by Tats Manahan, a lecture on still life painting by Cid Reyes, and drawing sessions.

I am looking forward to visit more of museums that are rich in culture and history.

And before I ended my post, here’s an advice from Claudio Bravo to the young painter which is also can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila:
I'd tell him to take painting very seriously because it's very difficult, it is not a caprice of a frivolous young person, but something for your whole and every day you learn something new. a painting isn't done in 24 hours, it's long, slow, very difficult. If you have enough courage, devout yourself to it, but don't think it's easy.”

Metropolitan Museum of Manila
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex
Roxas Boulevard, Manila

Museum Hours: 9:00am – 6:00pm, Mondays to Saturdays
Entrance Fee: P100

+63 2 708-7829 [T] [E]



  1. Very cool post. Especially the potraits. I pinned them too in my pinterest pinboards..Just awesome.

  2. The artworks are really classic. He's truly a great artist.

  3. close to realistic paintings..


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