Excerpt from The Genre Sculpture of Graciano Nepomuceno Alfredo R. Roces Philippine Studies vol. 8, no. 3 (1960): 483—490 Copyright © Ateneo de Manila University


Adam & Eve by Graciano Nepomuceno, 1948


Graciano T. Nepomuceno is a bright-eyed, self-confident septuagenarian. His thin, wiry frame and greying hair belie his physical strength, acquired from years of wielding hammer and chisel. He is a small but sturdy-loo,kingman who, however, walks with a marked limp. At 79, he has not lost any of his appetite for work.

"I was born in Trozo, Binondo," he reminisced the other day, "in 1881. Trozo was one of the better residential sections of Manila then. It was the home of the more educated, and everyone spoke fluent Castillian. I studied at the Limo de Manila. That's where I took up painting under Miguel Zaragoza. I couldn't agree with him on many points, and after a particularly exasperating argument, I left school and took up sculpture. I studied under Ciriaco Arevalo, the only Filipino sculptor to win a gold medal in Spain.”

Nepomuceno's forte seems to be character delineation. Among his works the mast remarkable in this regard are a miniature in bas-relief of President Quezon, a head of Christ now in Biiiang, some characters from Rizal's NOLIME TANGERE in wood, and the genre pieces. He has done some very fine pieces in ivory. When we last visited his studio, we found him hard at work on a high-relief portrait of Senator Recto in his favorite medium, molave.

There are four periods in Nepomuceno's career as a sculptor. The first period covers the last years of the nine teenth century and the early 1900's, when Nepomuomo worked in collaboration with Bonifacio Arbvalo, the sculptor and musician. In his second period he struck out on his own, working in wood and cement and producing chiefly ornamental pieces for building facades. The well-known architect, Arcadio Arellano, who was then remodelling a number of buildings in Manila, often employed him. In his third period he devoted himself to genre sculpture.  Portraiture characterizes his fourth and last period. Busts and bas-reliefs of distinguished personages figure among his most recent pieces, but he has also done miniatures and bas-relief reproductions of paintings.

Jasmine AnchetaComment