Mauro Malang, born on January 20, 1928, died yesterday, June 10, 2017. It is hard to believe. I remember back in Grade 3 or 4, how I first saw his works in the arts section of a newspaper one evening, how I was floored by them all, like something in me clicked, like something just fell into the right place. There was one artwork that stuck in my head, and today I searched for it online. It is that painting above.
As a child, I enjoyed copying works that simply attracted my short attention span (Hallmark cards, cartoons, encyclopedia illustrations, even drawings by my older siblings), but the moment I saw Malang’s paintings, or at least a photographic rendering of them, I think I said to myself, “This is different.”
There was this cockiness in his lines, this wild assuredness in this brushstrokes, this mixture of humility and simmering strength in the simplicity of his subjects’ faces. From here on, I believe his artistry is what guided my methods in visualizing idea and memory, and are, along the way, further enriched upon encountering the works of Pablo Picasso, Vicente Manansala, Jose Joya, Ang Kiukok, and several other is the abstractionist vein.
Finally, I saw a couple of Malang’s works in person, in the National Museum in Ermita, Manila several years ago, and I remember being massively emotional. Today, writing this, it happened again, but this time for an entirely different reason. .