March 3, 2017

Florante at Laura by Rodolfo Paras-Perez


Florante at Laura
26.8 x 42.6 cm each
Woodcut prints

History of Exhibition

1980  –  “The Art of Fine Print – A View of 25 Years”, August 5 – October 11, 1980, MOPA
1982  – “MOPA: Museum Artists 1982
1985  – “Munich Pre-Departure Exhibition”, February 6-21, 1985
2013  –  “Florante at Laura”, Pasilyo Vicente Manansala (2F Hallway Gallery)

Notes on the 2013 Exhibition of the Xylographs

19 April – 22 May 2013
Pasilyo Vicente Manansala (2F Hallway Gallery)

Collection of the Cultural Center of the Philippines

Photography by Philip Escudero

In commemoration of Francisco Baltazar’s 225th birth anniversary, the story of Florante at Laura is presented thru twenty-seven original woodblock prints. Dr. Rod. Paras-Perez created these xylographs for the 1977 edition of the Baltazar’s epic poem with an English translation by E. San Juan, Jr. and a facsimile of the handwritten transcription by Apolinario Mabini.

Francisco Baltazar, more popularly known as Balagtas, first published Florante at Laura in 1838.  Written in Tagalog, it was then considered a courageous move at a time when most published works were in Spanish.  Moreover, it was considered revolutionary since it dared to depict the injustices Filipinos suffered under the hands of the Spaniards.  Because of its language and content, this poem became an important text of the revolutionary movement in the late 19th century.  With limited access to the printing press, intellectuals of the movement made handwritten transcriptions of the text for their own use.  Apolinario Mabini was said to have written the entire text from memory while in exile in Guam on 1900.

Dr. Rod. Paras-Perez (1932 – 2010), visual artist and art historian, created the set of “xylographs”, the Greek term for woodblock prints, depicting select scenes.  Designed in book form, he conceived of each image based on two specific stanzas to illustrate episodes in the story.

As a graphic artist, Paras-Perez always had a close affinity to woodcut, underscoring the medium’s unique surface and textural quality.  Equally fascinated with the Eastern anagram of the Yin and Yang, he employed its aesthetics in creating multiple imageries in his compositions.

His contribution to Philippine graphic arts is not so much through teaching but by promoting the discipline and sophisticated craft if printmaking among his fellow artists.  For Paras-Perez, “Prints are probably the most welcome art form in our age. For in fine prints, we can have the aesthetic qualities and the appeal of works of art in more expensive media.” Together with Manuel Rodriguez, Sr., known as the “Father of Philippine printmaking”, Paras-Perez aimed to “make graphics an integral part of the artistic hierarchy”.