Philippine Ateneo Art Gallery celebrates 50 years with exhibition and art fund


Philippine university art museum Ateneo Art Gallery has turned fifty. The gallery began  as a collection of paintings donated by multimillionaire heir, philanthropist and educator Fernando Zobel de Ayala, himself a painter. Today, it is busy inaugurating extended gallery space and setting up contemporary art acquisition and endowment funds.

Fernando Zobel's, 'Saeta No. 42', 1957. Image from

Fernando Zobel's, 'Saeta No. 42', 1957. Image from

Ateneo Art Gallery moved from the Bellarmine Hall to the Rizal Library of Ateneo de Manila University in 1967. On October 24, 2010, an anniversary gala gathered artists, celebrities and other who’s who of the Manila social scene in the gallery’s newly inaugurated thousand square metre exhibition space, located on the ground floor of the Rizal Library‘s Special Collections Building.

Ramon Lerma, director and chief curator of the Ateneo Art Gallery and Ching A. Montinola, honorary chairperson for culture and the arts, headed the gala anniversary committee. The event also saw the premier of Francis de Veyra’s In the Eye of Modernity at the Leong Auditorium, a composition that took inspiration from the gallery’s core collection of artworks. A homage to National Artist Arturo Luz‘s sculpture Homage to Fernando Zobel was unveiled, followed by the opening of the Lee Aguinaldo: In Retrospect exhibition.

Lee Aguinaldo, 'Self-portrait', 1985. Image from

Lee Aguinaldo, 'Self-portrait', 1985. Image from

The exhibition, curated by Ma. Victoria Hererra and Clarissa Chikiamco, brought together more than 150 of Aguinaldo’s works. Lee Aguinaldo is known as one of the Philippines’ first abstractionists, although he also created some figurative works. Being a self-taught artist, he experimented with different forms and techniques ranging from abstract and linear paintings in oil and on canvas, to drawings and collage and the use of letters and mixed media, even collaborating with photographers Butch Baluyut and Wyg Tysmans.

During the event, the gallery also revealed its Ateneo Art Acquisition Fund with which it aims to continue its legacy as a premier art gallery by maintaining its collection of the finest works of Philippine contemporary art. The 50-at-50, an endowment programme, was also announced and it aims to raise PHP50 million before the closing of the gallery’s 50th anniversary (also Ateneo de Manila University’s 150th founding anniversary) in August 2011.

The Mabini Art Project: 100 Paintings, a collection of works by Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan was acquired and donated by Security Bank, adding to the gallery’s already illustrious collection.

Aside from acquiring art and holding exhibits and lectures, the Ateneo Art Gallery also runs the annual Ateneo Art Awards, a premier contest that honours outstanding Filipino visual artists under the age of 36. These Awards aim to contribute significantly to the continuing evolution of Philippine contemporary art.

Installation shot of exhibits, Ateneo Art Gallery. Image from

Installation shot of exhibits, Ateneo Art Gallery. Image from


Related Topics: Manila venues, gallery shows, museum showsart funds

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