Filipina Spanish artist captures spirit of PH rural life

Filipina Spanish artist captures spirit of PH rural life

NEW YORK — “Liwanag: A Journey through the Philippines Way of Life” will be on display at the Philippine Center from Sept.  23 until Oct. 11, with an opening reception is on Sept. 24 at 6:30 p.m.

Inspired by Filipino Modern Masters Fernando Amorsolo and Vicente Manansala, expedition artist Maria Mari Murga challenged the conventions of life and art by traveling to remote areas of rural Philippines to document the world around her in plein air.

Maria Mari Murga

The excitement of indigenous children in Aurora, Quezon spearfishing, the majestic allure of a coconut husker in Baler, the charm of a fisherman unloading tuna at the General Santos City pier in Mindanao, the sensuality of a Zamboangueña in her prayers, are transformed into tangible monochrome drawings exalting the human spirit through intense emotions and expressive movement.

Based on her expertise in anatomy and on humanist ideals, Murga works with a contemporary vision to illuminate the powerful authenticity of Filipino provincial life. Through the artist’s eye, the essence of the Philippines is revealed: A multicultural archipelago united in beauty, endurance and human dignity.

Coconut husker in Baler, Quezon. MARIA MARI MURGA

Maria Mari Murga is a Filipina Spanish artist based in London. She hails from Zamboanga City in Mindanao and has Basque roots. She is the granddaughter of a Bataan Death March survivor.

Trained in Florence, Italy, she specialized in Renaissance painting techniques. Orient and Occident are brought together under Murga’s life vision.

Her paintings are part of the private collections of prominent British and Philippine art patrons, including well known corporate companies. Murga has exhibited internationally, at the Annigoni Museum in Florence, The City Council in Madrid, and Petley’s Gallery in Mayfair, London, just to name a few.

Head of a young T’boli girl in Sarangani Province. MARIA MARI MURGA

Her artworks have been awarded by prestigious art institutions such as The Royal Society of British Artists, The De Laszlo Foundation, The London Festival of Architecture, and others.

The Philippince Center exhibition also showcases a selection of frames hand-carved by the Rene Demafeliz Atelier based in Zamboanga City. The atelier is a team of carpenters, painters, and furniture makers collaborating to create bespoke pieces. Each frame is unique and made from solid wood. Focusing on Islamic aesthetics, their work decorates mosques and public buildings in Zamboanga, Basilan, Tawi Tawi and Jolo. These pieces embrace and celebrate the rich cultural history of Mindanao.

Murga’s traveling exhibition has been showcased at the Philippine Embassy in London, where it received the following review:

“’Liwanag’ chronicled Murga’s journey for one year through provinces of the Philippines, capturing the history, culture, heritage and traditions of the country in a somewhat whimsical way. Maria used her fine technical skills to represent the daily lives of the people all over the archipelago, especially among the indigenous people in the country. She threw a spotlight on these scenes for the rest of the world to discover, and to serve as a reminder of the beauty of the country and an inspiration to visit the islands.”