CLAUDIO BRAVO's Manila Paintings, Featured at The Metropolitan Museum of Manila

Back in January of 1968, Chilean hyperrealist painter Claudio Bravo (only 31-years old back then) visited the Philippines, through an invite from Eugenio Lopez Sr. and Pacita Lopez for their 40th wedding anniversary celebration. At the end of the week-long celebration, his companions headed home while Claudio Bravo turned his attention to several commissions for portraits.

He painted notable Filipino luminaries which include the Lopez ladies—Doña Nitang, her daughter Presentacion Lopez Psinakis, and Conchita Lopez Taylor, the mother of Gabby and Gina Lopez. He also did the potraits of his client like the Leandro Locsins, the Constantino Manahans, Chona Kasten, Imelda Cojuangco, etc.

Bravo painting Conchita Lopez Taylor
Claudio Bravo held his first solo exhibition when he was 17 years old. He then moved to Conception and quickly gained several portrait commissions. His earnings would allow him to move to Madrid in 1961, where he perfected his craft and gained recognition for his technical virtuosity and hyperrealistic style. It was not long before he became a sought after portraitist amongst social luminaries. 

Claudio Bravo looked back at his work in the Philippines and described it as ““I think the Philippine portraits are, perhaps, my most lucid paintings, because it was a different race, beautiful! Different colors and I could paint with colors like Matisse. [The] Philippines was the tropics, a different vision of the world and of light. There I began to dare to use more ‘electric’ colors and to enjoy color.””  Bravo was born in Valparaiso, Chile in 1936 and passed away last year in Taroudant, Morocco. 1968 is the last time he visited the Philippines.

Now for the first time in nearly 50 years, these paintings will be exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum from September 19 - October 20, 2012. Dubbed as Claudio Bravo: Sojourn in Manila, Filipinos can now able to see Claudio Bravo’s paintings including some that were brought abroad by their owners. The inauguration of the exhibit is timed to coincide with the National Day celebration of Chile.

CLAUDIO BRAVO: Sojourn in Manila

The Embassy of Chile and geothermal energy producer Energy Development Corporation (EDC) jointly presented Claudio Bravo: Sojourn in Manila at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila on September 18, also the 202nd anniversary of Chile’s independence. Open to the public until October 20, the retrospective aims to highlight the strengthening of bilateral ties between the Philippines and Chile.

EDC chairman emeritus Oscar M. Lopez affirmed that “EDC, with its focus and expertise in geothermal energy has been undertaking exploration activities in the mountains of Chile for some time now. In the near future, we hope, to likewise contribute to the supply of clean and renewable energy into the homes and industries of Chile.” He said that “the bonds forged can be further strengthened by our endeavors in Chile. There is much to share, and much to gain between our two countries, culturally, as well as commercially.”

My First Time at MET

Portrait of Ma. Lourdes Araneta Fores
Curator Tats Manahan is the one who accompanied us during the tour. This is actually the first time that I visited The Metropolitan Museum. The curator noted that the “foreshadowing of the techniques he used in these works can already be observed in the Manila portraits,” the existence of which “are a little known fact in the international art world.”

I'm a big fan of the Old Manila, and these paintings from Claudio Bravo relive all the glamour and the elegance of the Philippines' capital back then. You will get a snapshot of the 60's as you look on each paintings. It also nice to hear the stories behind each portraits. Did you know that some of the 'models' for the portrait have to stand still for hours just to get it perfectly? This is so different now where we take photos on our  smartphone and upload it right away and get comments and 'likes' in just minutes.

Margarita Delos Reyes

I can't stop myself looking closely on each photo! The details are surreal especially his "ink on paper" series. Another personal favorite is the portrait of Margarita Delos Reyes! :) Now I know why he is a world famous hyperrealist! Because all his paintings are so life-like and striking. It's like a photo from a DSLR. It is also interesting to note that all his portrait are done on paper. The curator said that there are some paintings they didn't include because the edges of the paper has been damaged.

Schedule of Saturday Activities:

September 29 - A ‘Still’ Life talk by Cid Reyes. 10:am at the White Cube Gallery. Art historian Cid Reyes talks about still life painting tradition in the Philippines. His survey on the subject and still life painters in the Philippines will be followed by a still life drawing/painting session involving objects often used by Bravo in his drawings.

October 2 - Fashion Portraits: inspired by Claudio Bravo 1pm at the Upper Level Bridge. Drapery sketches have been one of the most exquisite creations of Bravo. ‘Draped’, in cooperation with Summit Media, features the leading stylists in the country on a draping exercise which will be followed by a sketching session of the styled models.

October 6 - Bravo Claudio: Curator’s Talk by Tats Manhan. 10:00 am at the White Cube Gallery. Tats Manahan will discuss the life and art of Claudio Bravo with emphasis on his connection to the Philippines in 1968. This will be followed by the curator’s walk through of the exhibit.

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila is located at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Manila. Museum hours are from 9am – 6pm, Monday to Saturday; closed on Sundays and first Mondays of the month and on holidays. For details on the exhibit, please call 708-7829. Visit 

JL Santiago Aquino

A millennial lifestyle blogger from Caloocan City who adores trying new things. ✨ Email: Follow @JayL_Aquino on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok & Facebook.


  1. wow. those are nice paintings thanks for introducing me to Claudio Bravo.

  2. sad to know that he passed away already! but this guy is really talented. i hope there's a Filipino version of him. I mean another one who is good at hyperrealism.

  3. Interesting works. I would like to see this in person when I got the chance.

  4. looks really interesting.up to when is the exhibit?