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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Pulumbarit

What exactly is Philippine art?

Updated: Jul 26, 2020

Photo by Project Atlas (Pexels)

What exactly makes an artwork "Filipino?"

This question is more complex than it seems because it is not easy to define Philippine art.

Would you consider an oil painting, inspired by European masters, but done by a Filipino artist as "Philippine art?"

Is Philippine art limited only to Filipino themes?

What about artworks done by Filipinos based abroad, should they also be considered as Philippine art?

Poet and art critic Leo Benesa said the question about the essence of Philippine art somehow brings back the age-old question about national identity.

In an article on the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) website, Benesa said this question about Philippine art will always haunt art watchers and always crop up in art forums.

Benesa wrote: "A great deal of the confusion in cultural identity stems from the fact that Philippine art belongs to the western tradition in its use of paint and canvas and other materials, as well as in such influences as impressionism, expressionism, surrealism, cubism, pop, minimalism and so on."

What about you? How would you define Philippine art? Share your thoughts. Email us at

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