Thursday, September 30, 2010

Have you seen any mural by Enrique Liborio Ruiz?

Charcoal study for "Mindamora" (1928)

He was a senior high school student at Far Eastern College when Enrique Liborio Ruiz took nighttime courses under Fernando Amorsolo, I.L. Miranda and Vicente Rivera at the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts.  Upon graduation, he and his parents went to the United States and enrolled at Yale University where he got his bachelor’s degree in fine arts.

"In Doubt" (June 1930)
In Yale, his interests got diverted to architecture and mural paintings, visiting public buildings in America noted for their mural decorations, and during vacations, working with acclaimed muralists Eugene Savage and Ezra Winter and stained glass window maker Emil Zundel.  Galo B. Ocampo (1939) would later note the influence of Savage and Winter in the mural paintings he was doing in the Philippines.   

June 1930 Panel
July 1930 Panel
In 1927, he met Juan Arellano, supervising architect of the Bureau of Public Works at that time, who was visiting New York.  Arellano encouraged him to study Javanese art, telling Ruiz that this is best suited for the Philippines.

Ruiz was back in the country in January 1930 after his graduation and a tour of the art scene in Europe. He got employed with the Bureau under Arellano, already the Chief Consulting Architect of the Government, to prepare mural decorations for public buildings.  Even at that time, funding for such endeavors was hard to come by, and there’s no knowing if the Ruiz plans ever got to be painted, and if so, did they survive the bombing of Manila or the scourge of time?

January 1931 Panel
In June 1930, he did the front page cover “In Doubt” of Philippine Magazine, which editor A.V.H. Hartendorp said was the portrait of a Filipino lady that Ruiz met in the US while he was in Yale.  The artist would do a series of twelve decorative Filipiniana panels for the magazine from June 1930 to May 1931 (5 of them shown here).  [Who could be keeping them?]

Ruiz did not stay long with the Bureau.  In 1932, he was already running his own business company devoted to decorative work and murals, and an early work was at the University Theater on Taft Avenue.

February 1931 Panel

This company could be this "group of artists [that] included Vicente Manansala, Victor Loyola, Marcelino Sanchez, Arsenio Capili, Lu Ocampo and Recarte Puruganan doing mural paintings with muralist Architect Enrique Ruiz as contractor and designer,” which Martino Abellana, known as the dean of Cebuano painters, joined early in his career. The group was  able to finish two big murals before the outbreak of World War II -- a religious mural at the San Marcelino Church and the mural of the Time Theatre.  This group or Ruiz himself could have done the mural in the Manila Hotel and in a room in Malacanang.  [Are these works still around?]

In his column City Sense in the Philippine Star (2008, December 27), Paulo Alcazaren wrote about the “magnificent mural” at the Time Theater comprising three panels:
  ‘The right panel features the “Vision of the Architect,” …the central panel tells the story of “The Wooing of Maria Makiling” … [and] the left panel portrayed “The influence of film,” showing the “producer upholding the contribution” of his art, the scripts, cameramen, actors and a “family”of artists towards the production of the movies shown in the theater.’  
April 1931 Panel
Hartendorp (1930) listed some works that Ruiz did in the United States.   They should still be around:

1.  “Mindamora” (1928, New Haven), “a painting showing the legendary queen of Mindanao receiving tribute from Sulu. A Korean friend posed for one of the male figures, but the magnificent queen was drawn without a model and entirely from his imagination.”

2.  “Radha Darshan” or “Call of Love” (1929) drawn from Hindu mythology, which was exhibited in the Grand Central Galleries in New York, and which won the second Prix de Rome, offered to American art students by the American Academy in Rome.

3.  “Saras Vati” (1928), “a small jewel-like painting of the Hindu goddess of culture.”

4.   A commissioned work foe a Connecticut millionaire, “an allegorical painting, representing modern New England, for his private library”

5.   “The Holy Family”, stained glass window of the Holy Ghost Church, Edgewater, New Jersey (executed before he returned to the Philippines)


Hartendorp, A.V.H. (1930, June).  Enrique Liborio Ruiz, Painter. Philippine Magazine. 27(1):14-16.  Retrieved from The United States and its Territories, 1870-1925: The Age of Imperialism at

2.  "Four O'clock in the Editor's Office." (1932, February).
Philippine Magazine. 28(9):488.  Retrieved from The United States and its Territories, 1870-1925: The Age of Imperialism at

3.   Ocampo, Galo B. (1939, October). Mural Painting in the Philippines. 
Philippine Magazine. 37(10):408-409,421.  Retrieved from The United States and its Territories, 1870-1925: The Age of Imperialism at

4.   “Martino Abellana, Dean of Cebuano Painters”.  Cebu Artists Inc. Retrieved from

5.   Alcazaren, Paulo. (2008, December 27). “The best of times (first of two parts)”. Common Sense. The Philippine Star. Retrieved from