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Artist Spotlight: Francisco Paco Gorospe

"A Filipino legend in cubism and modern art from the Mabini School of Art"

Francisco “Paco” Gorospe Sy was born in Binondo, Manila on July 10th, 1939. His mother came from La Unio, his father was Chinese, hails from Cavite. It was Binondo/ Manila, where he spent his childhood.

Right after his secondary education, he went far south with some friends to the Visayas and Mindanao where he lived for several years. This was later reflected in many of his paintings of local folk, mother & child, market scenes, animals, as well as landscapes. It was also in Mindanao where he met his wife in Cagayan the Oro and married her shortly before New Year. With her he had four children, two boys and two girls.

He admired the Yakan tribe, the Bogobos and the Tausugs. He was inspired by their colourful attire, native jewelry and bare bosoms, carrying their children, breastfeeding them in public without being self-conscious, that city folks are so sensitive about. He always remembered the way they traded their wares in the market place, the abstractions of their rivers and their mountains.

First Paco experimented with crayons, before using watercolours and finally shifting to oil paintings. Sometimes he even painted billboards in Cagayan de Oro in the beginning.

After his return to Manila in 1960 he enrolled in the University of Sto. Thomas as a Fine Art Student, studied under Hongkong artist David Cheng, but after one year more or less dropped out of the UST.

He settled down in Ermita, Manila, and joined with a group of artists and opened up his own gallery in Mabini. The influence of the city could be seen in his paintings, there were more structured houses, change in the faces and the market scenes.

He met other artists and was influenced by modern art. During that time he, Roger san Miguel and Francisco Ello were called the Mabini Triumverate. He was influenced by the works of Serafin Serna, Salvador Cabrera and Angelito Antonio and was as well inspired by Frank Klein and Andrew Wyet.

“Paco was a spontaneous, dedicated fast learner, able to control his colors and break conventional norms. Back then, the conventional style of painting landscapes and human interest subjects was the norm and the taste of people leaned towards the traditional. We experimented with exaggerated, distorted figures and disregarded proportion.” (2011, Roger San Miguel)

From 1961 until 1965 his paintings were patronized by Lyd Arguilla at the Philippine Art Gallery and sold in the United States. Paco´s works were chosen to represent the Philippines in 1962 at the Washington World Fair and in 1964 his painting were exhibited at the New York World Fair.

Lyd Arguilla about him: “Paco Goropse, the artist, the man who conquers life through his painting. A man of many moods and temperaments. A deep person, deepest in his thoughts especially when painting, showing a full concentration on his works.” When Lyd Arguilla died, she had 45 of Paco´s paintings in her private collection.

In the same year 1965, his oil painting “The flower Vendor” was selected for the cover of the Esso Mobile Magazine.

Starting 1965 he worked together with Rick Gonzalez and was a golfing croney of Cesar Buenaventura. In 1968 a fire burned down his Gallery in Ermita/ Manila. Therefore he moved to Laguna and lived and worked for 2 years there. In 1970 he reopend his Gallery in Mabini/ Ermita.

From 1965 onwards, Paco had successful exhibitions in Bern, Switzerland and a one man show at the President’s Hotel in Hongkong. The Karilagan Finishing School also featured Paco´s paintings. In 1972 he hold an exhibition in Okinawa, Japan.

In 1974 after an interview with Paco, Gilbert Luis R. Centina III stated in his article Paco from the Ermita School: “His lines are impressionistic expressionist, representational. His colors are burst of green, orange, blue and brown, his signature is Paco, simply, but his name is Francisco Gorospe Sy - painter of brilliance - from the Ermita School.”

In 1983 again a fire burned down his Gallery and he was forced again to move to Laguna. It was that time his art was reflected in several magazines and newspapers, for example in Metro Manila Times, march 13th, 1983 “A Fiery Passion of Art by Emi Reintar/ Dave Hodges. That time he started working with wood, metal and other materials. In 1988 he reinvented his work with watercolour and crayons.

Paco always stated that time, that the Filipino painter has a bright future. “In the whole of Asia, the Philippines has the most beautiful paintings, sold at the most reasonable prices,” said late Filipino artist Paco Gorospe, a self-made Filipino artist, associated with the “Ermita School” of painting.

In 1989 he was holding his first exhibition in Baden-Baden, Germany sponsored by a German friend, and later as well in Denmark. In 1990 his paintings were exhibited at the Expo in Yokohama, Japan. The same year, his work “Sabungeros” was commissioned by Philippine Airlines for the cover of their playing cards which were given to the passengers. In 1995 he produced even larger paintings reflecting the nature, animal and the people of the South.

In 1995/ 1996 his commissioned works were featured in Voest-Alpine MCE annual report and in 1996 his work “Sabong” was reflected in the cover of SBC Warburg Gaming Report.

It was around 1999 until 2002 when he produced abstract impressionism works, even some unfinished and unsigned paintings were left behind, when Francisco Paco Gorospe Sy passed away on September 22nd, 2002.

“There is one gift Paco has, however, that is entirely his own and which he could exploit to bigger achievement: his color sense and style that is highly personal and Instinctive. It is perhaps the best quality in his painting.” (FC Silangan Vol X No 3 1965/ Kayumangi)

“A man chosen for his time, a legend of art paintings. A true world class Filipino.”

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