Napoleon Isabelo Veloso-Abueva, popularly known as Napoleon Abueva, is a Filipino artist born on January 26, 1930 at Tagbilaran, Bohol.
He was nicknamed "Billy" by his parents. His father is Teodoro Abueva, a congressman in Bohol, and his mother is Purificacion "Nena" Veloso, president of the Women's Auxiliary Service. He has 6 siblings namely:
1. Teodoro "Teddy", Jr. - now based in New York
2. Purificacion "Neny" - married Atty. Ramon Binamira of Tagbilaran City (both deceased)
3. Jose "Pepe" - former president of UP
4. Amelia "Inday" Martinez - now living in Chicago
5. Teresita "Ching" Floro - now living in Sydney, Australia
6. Antonio "Tony" - a landscape artist who met a tragic fate aboard Princess of the Orient, his body has not been found
During WWII in 1943, Billy's family was hunted by the Japanese. Both his parents died serving the country. At the age of 14, he was not spared from the brutality of the invaders. He accompanied his grandmother where they were captured by Japanese soldiers. His grandmother was later freed but he was still tortured for more than a week.
Billy studied in Tagbilaran Elementary School (now Holy Name University) and Rafael Palma College (now University of Bohol).
In 1951, Billy introduced what he referred to as "buoyant sculpture", a sculpture meant to be appreciated from the surface of a placid pool.
In 1953, he graduated with a Bachelor Degree of Fine Arts in Sculpture under a Pura Villanueva-Kalaw Scholarship from the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts. During his college years, he was mentored by Guillermo Tolentino, the first National Artist for Sculpture and creator of the UP Oblation. Tolentino later relegated to Billy the task of replicating the sculpture for the campus of UP Los Baños.
In 1955, Billy finished his Master of Fine Arts as a Fullbright/Smith-Mundt scholar at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. He later took graduate units in Ceramics at the University of Kansas and Art History at Harvard University.
In 1976, Napoleon, at the age of 46 became the youngest Filipino awardee to become a National Artist. He is a sculptor and the only Boholano native to date given the distinction as the Philippines' National Artist for Sculpture in the field of Visual Arts.
Billy is known as the "Father of Modern Philippine Sculpture", he is a master in both academic representational style and modern abstract. He has helped shape the local sculpture scene to what is now.
His works have been executed utilizing almost all kinds of materials. Being an expert in both academic representational style and modern abstract, he use hard wood like acacia, bamboo, ipil, langka wood, molave, palm wood, to adobe, alabaster, brass, bronze, cement, coral, iron, marble, metal, stainless steel and stone as medium. He also combines different materials like mixing 2 or more medium of either wood, metal and stone.
He first joined the UP faculty as an Assistant Instructor. In 1978, Billy was appointed Dean of the College of Fine Arts where he held the position until 1989. He was given an honorary doctorate in Humanities and was then promoted to University Professor. He retired in June 1995, was given the status of Professor Emeritus in April 2003.
He also put up a one-man show at the Philippine Center in New York during in the 80's. His works have already scattered worldwide, installed in different museum here and abroad, one of which is "The Sculpture" at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
As a native of Bohol, he has one masterpiece dedicated to the Boholanos... The Sandugo or Blood Compact Shrine located in Bohol, Tagbilaran City. It is a landmark at the site of the first international treaty of friendship between Spaniards and Filipinos which is a tourist attraction in Bohol province. It is said that the shrine is an expression of Napoleon "Billy" Abueva awareness of his roots and is also a manifestation of his artistic talents.
Billy performed the death mask procedure of Ninoy Aquino in 1983 and Fernando Poe Jr. in 2004. The masks are both displayed at the Center for Kapampangan Studies in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac. He also made a death mask of Cardinal Sin.
Napoleon "Billy" Abueva is married to Cherry Abueva, a psychiatrist. They have 3 children, namely: Amihan, Mulawin and Duero. He used to teach at the Industrial Design department of the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde School of Design and Arts before his stroke.
Some of his major works and other several public arts that can be found at UP Diliman include:
• 1953 - Kaganapan
• 1955 - Kiss of Judas
• 1957 - The Crucifix with Two Corpora (Parish of the Holy Sacrifice)
• 1967 - UP Gateway
• 1979 - The Transfiguration (Eternal Garden Memorial Park)
• 1981 - Fredesvinda (Fort Canning, Singapore)
• 1994 - Nine Muses (UP Faculty Center)
• 1994 - Sunburst (Peninsula Manila Hotel)
• Teodoro M. Kalawin (the bronze figure in front of National Library)
• murals in marble (National Heroes Shrine, Mt. Samat, Bataan)
• 14 Stations of the Cross (EDSA Shrine)
• 1996 - Alma Mater (lobby of Ang Bahay ng Alumni at UP)
• 1996 - Tres Marias Plaza (3 women sewing the first Philippine Flag at UP Donor's Garden as part of the centennial celebration of the 1896 Philippine Revolution)
Some of his Achievements, Honors and Awards are:
• 1951 - First Prize, Sculptural Exhibition by the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP)
• 1952 - First Prize, Fifth Annual Art Exhibition
• 1952 - First Prize and Special Award, Fourth Sculptural Exhibition
• 1953 - Awardee, The Unknown Political Prisoner, in the International Sculpture Competition by the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London
• 1953 - First Prize and Special Award, Kaganapan (Marble), in the Semi-Annual Art Exhibition by app
• 1955 - First Prize, Kiss of Judas (Wood), in the Religious Art Exhibition in Detroit, Michigan
• 1956 - First Prize, Water Buffalo (Marble), in the Annual Show at St. Louis, Missouri
• 1957 - First Prize, Figure (Wood), in the Annual Show of AAP
• 1958 - Most Outstanding Alumnus of the School of Fine Arts, UP Golden Jubilee
• 1959 - Republic Award for Sculpture
• 1959 - Awardee in Sculpture, Ten Outstanding Young Men in the Philippines (TOYM)
• 1962 - Winner, UP Gateway Design Competition
• 1966 - Winner, Cultural Heritage Award
• 1976 - Gawad CCP para sa Sining
• 1987 - ASEAN Awards for the Visual Arts in Bangkok
• 1995 - Fourth ASEAN Achievement Award for Visual Arts in Singapore
The National Commision for Culture and the Arts | ncca.gov.ph
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