WASHINGTON, D.C.—The abstract expressionist works of noted Filipino-American artist and art patron Alfonso Ossorio (1916-1990) drew raves when they went on exhibit at a private museum here on Thursday.
The Philippine Embassy, which collaborated with the Phillips Collection for its “Phillips After 5” event for the month of March, said almost 700 guests led by Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. and his wife, Ma. Victoria, attended the opening of the exhibit dubbed “Angels, Demons and Savages.”
The exhibit features 55 paintings and works on paper of the Manila-born Ossorio and his equally famous artist-friends and contemporaries—American painter Jackson Pollock (1912-1990) and French painter Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)—covering the period 1945 to 1958.
According to The Phillips Collection the exhibition, which will run until 12 May, illuminates a key moment in postwar art and reunites a number of works by Pollock and Dubuffet from Ossorio’s collection for the first time since they were dispersed after his death in 1990.
Ossorio was born in Manila to a landed clan from Negros Occidental. He went to school in England and the United States. He took Fine Arts at Harvard University and also studied at the Rhode Island School of Design before becoming an American citizen in 1933. It was in the US where he was able to establish himself as an artist of note. In the Philippines, he is noted for his mural “The Angry Christ” that was commissioned in 1950 by the parish of St. Joseph in Victorias City, Negros Occidental.
Among those in attendance was Filipino-American community leader Mitzi Pickard who noted that it had been a long time since the Phillips Collection showcased a Filipino artist and Philippine art, music, dance and culture. “I’m elated that it happened at this time. It was a lovely evening highlighting the works and collections of Filipino artist extraordinaire Alfonso Ossorio,” Pickard said.
The event included a display of the fashion creations of Filipino-American designer Cathy Ebrada-Cleveland using the piña cloth (pineapple fiber) and cultural performances by the University of Maryland Filipino Cultural Association and Northern Virginia Rondalla.
Among the beverages made available to guests was San Miguel Beer. Sweet City Desserts also donated a sampling of its savory treats.