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Jose Tanig Joya

 (1931 - 1995)
Jose Tanig Joya was active/lived in Michigan, New York / Philippines.  Jose Joya is known for abstract expressionist easel painting, murals, teaching.

Jose Tanig Joya

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Jose Tanig Joya
National artist Jose Joya was a pioneer modern and abstract artist who was active as a painter, print maker, mixed-media artist and ceramicist. It has been said that it was Joya who "spearheaded the birth, growth and flowering of abstract expressionism*" in the Philippines. His mature abstract works have been said to be "characterized by calligraphic gestures and linear forces, and a sense of color vibrancy emanating from an Oriental sensibility." Joya's sense of color has been said to have come from the hues of the Philippine landscape, and his use of rice paper in collages demonstrated an interest in transparency.

Jose Tanig Joya was born on June 3, 1931, the son of Jose Joya Sr. and Asuncion Tanig. He began sketching at the age of eleven. At a young age, he became interested in studying architecture, but found that he did not have the aptitude for the math and science that architecture would require. While attending the University of the Philippines he was introduced to the paintings of Fernando Amorsolo, and began his study of painting. He was initially schooled in the traditional tradition -- in which the standards had been set by Amorsolo and Tolentino -- but gradually was influenced by American abstraction and by the emerging trends in Philippine modernism. He was mentored by Guillermo Tolentino, Ireneo Miranda, Domindaor Castaneda and Virginia Agbayani.

Joya graduated from the University of the Philippines (UP) in 1953 with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Art, earning the distinction of being the university's first Magna cum Laude. In 1954 the Instituto de Cultura Hispanica of the Spanish government awarded him a one year grant to study painting in Madrid. Travel/study scholarships to Madrid -- which came about through the influence of PAG member Fernando Zobel de Ayala -- were also given to other PAG artists including Arturo Luz, Nena Saguil and Larry Tronco. After returning from Spain, Joya finished his Master's Degree in Painting in 1956 at the Cranbrook School of Art in Michigan, with the assistance of a Fulbright Smith-Mundt grant.

His early works were representational paintings that showed the influence of Vincente Manansala and Anita Magsaysay-Ho. During the late 1950's, as he became involved in the Philippine Art Gallery -- founded in 1950 by a group of women writers led by Lyn Arguilla -- he became one of the "new wave" of artists who developed abstract paintings. His first one make show appeared at the Philippine Art Gallery in 1954, and in March of 1958 he won first prize for his non-objective Painting in the 11th Annual PAG Art Exhibition, held at the Northern Motors Showroom. He won more prizes in 1959 (Second place for Space Transfiguration), 1960 (Third place for Horse of Life) and 1962 (Third place for Cathedral).

Joya was often present a the "Saturday Group", which met for weekly art discussions at the Taxa de Oro Restaurant in Manila. In 1962, when Joya was serving as the President of the Art Association of the Philippines, he and Napolean Abueva represented the Philippines in the prestigious Venice Biennale*: it was the first time that the Philippines had participated. He displayed a 1958 horizontal abstraction titled Granadian Arabesque, a painting which features powerful swipes of impasto* mixed with sand, and which is now in the collection of the Ateneo Art Gallery. Joya later wrote about participating in the Biennale, and reported on the novelty, desire to shock and "dazzle" of the work on view.

In the late 60s, he received grants from the John D. Rockefeller III Fund and the Ford Foundation, which allowed him to paint and study at the Pratt Institute in New York between 1967 and 1969. Among the positions he held were:

- President of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) 1962-65

- Dean of the UP College of Fine Arts 1970-78, where he modernized curriculum and established scholarships.

- Chairperson of Philippine Delegations to China, 1961 and 1972

In the 1970s Joya executed two large murals, Lanterns of Enlightenment and Mariveles, which display vivid interplays of shape and tone. When traveling overseas he often made rapid, on the spot sketches in pencil, charcoal or pastel.

Joya was also a holder of the Amorsolo Professorial Chair in UP in 1985. He served as chairperson of the National Committee on Visual Arts, of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts from 1987 until his death.

In 1981 a retrospective of some 200 of Joya's works was held at the Museum of Philippine Art.

In1987 the French government awarded him membership in the "Order of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres."

"In creating an art work," Joya once stated "the artist is concretizing his need for communication. He has an irresistible urge to reach that level of spiritual satisfaction and to project what he is and what he thinks through his work."

Joya died in May of 1995 at the age of 63 after complications from a prostate operation.

In 2003, eight years after his death, he was conferred the title of National Artist for his pioneering efforts in developing Filipino abstract art. A retrospective of his work was held in August of 2011 at the National Museum.

"Jose Tanig Joya", Geringer Art Ltd. , //

* For references for these terms and others, see AskART Glossary

Biography from Tobin Reese Fine Art
Born in Manila on June 3, 1931, Jose Joya is considered the pioneer and foremost abstract expressionist painter of the Philippines. His work is "characterized by calligraphic gestures and linear forces, and a sense of color vibrancy emanating from an Oriental sensibility." The spectrum of colors native to the tropical Philippine landscape are believed to have been the source of Joya's vibrant, yet harmonious palette. The greens of the rice paddies, the golds of the harvest fields, and the seemingly infinite hues of the Pahiyas festival, were some of the inspirations behind the artist's unique style of heavy impastos, spontaneous brushstrokes, bold textures, and unexpected splashes of color.

During his pre-teens, he dabbled in architectural sketching, but by the time he had to choose a career path for college, he discovered that the math and science required of an architect was beyond his skill. In his early years, Joya studied under prominent Filipino artists Fernando Amorsolo and Guillermo Tolentino at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts. He graduated as the college's first magna cum laude in 1953, and while riding the wave of success, was urged by Philippine Art Gallery member Fernando Zobel de Ayala to do what young artists must do if they want to expand their influence and intellect—travel.

The Spanish government awarded him a grant to further study painting in Spain at the Instituto de Cultura Hispanica from 1954 to 1955. After studying in Madrid, he left for the United States on a Fulbright Smith-Mundt grant to attend school in Michigan at the Cranbrook Academy of Art under Zoltan Zepeshy, where he would eventually earn his Master's Degree in Painting (1957).

At this time, Joya was beginning to be influenced more by abstract American painters and new ideas in Philippine modernism than the traditional methods and styles he learned from Amorsolo and other professors. From 1967 to 1969, he received another grant, this time from the John D. Rockefeller III Fund and Ford Foundation, to paint at New York's Pratt Graphic Art Center. After viewing works by Jackson Pollock and other American abstract expressionist artists, he began to experiment with his own interpretation of the movement's unconstrained and dynamic works through the use of personally developed techniques, novel materials, and new styles. For example, Joya painted on ceramics, such as plates and other everyday materials, instead of the traditional canvas and sketched with markers instead of pens or pencils.

Joya's diverse artistic career evolved from early works influenced by his traditional education that emphasized figure drawings and portraits, to non-figurative abstraction on large canvasses, and lastly to ceramic art.

Examples of his earlier conservative works include Ligawan (1948) and Hidalgo Studies (1951). His works that demonstrate a shift away from Western influence toward abstract painting include: Space Transfiguration (1959), Ang Tutubi (1967), Cityscape (1972), Warm Afternoon (1974), and Spirit of Season (1992).

Some of his most famous works include Barter of Panay (1948), Christ Stripped of His Clothes (1954), Granadean Arabesque (1958), Dimensions of Fear (1965), Vista Beyond Recognition (1981), Torogan (1985), and Playground of the Mind (1998).

Many of his paintings are allegories of human nature and the life cycle. In Hills of Nikko, Joya uses characteristics of the winter and summer seasons to symbolize the frailties and strengths of the human spirit.

Not only was Joya a cutting edge artist, he was also a visionary who pushed for his fellow man and culture to be recognized by the rest of the world as an artistic force to be reckoned with. He was president of the Art Association of the Philippines (1962-1965) for three consecutive terms, later became Dean of his alma mater from 1970 to 1978, and served as chairman of the Philippine Delegation to China (1961, 1972). As Dean he created art scholarships and worked with an art historian to modify the art curriculum to include more liberal arts and art history instruction. He also established the VACOOP—the Visual Artists Cooperative of the Philippines. From 1987 until his death, he served as chairperson of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts.

Throughout his career as a painter he was awarded numerous first place prizes at the many exhibits he entered. In addition, he was posthumously honored by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as National Artist For Visual Arts in 2003 for his significant contributions to the development of Filipino fine art awareness and for his generous teachings to his fellow Filipino artists. He was the awardee of the French government's "Chevalier dans I' Ordre des Arts et Lettres" in 1967.

Retrospectives and shows of his works were held at the Philippine Art Gallery (1954), the Venice Biennial (1964), the Museum of Philippine Art (1981), the National Museum (2011) and the Ayala Museum (2012).

Joya died of complications from a prostrate surgery in 1995 at age 63. Joya believed that an artist creates a work in order to meet "…his need for communication" and "…reach that level of spiritual satisfaction" necessary "to protect what he is and what he thinks through his work." A "themeless" art competition is held annually at the SM Art Centre in honor of Joya's artistic contributions.

As Joya believed in self-expression and interpretation, participants in the contest are given no specific instructions other than encouragement to "paint what they will." The competition is in part funded by the artist's family estate and this year marked the 38th competition, which was won by a freshman at the University of the Philippines.

Kristin Guess for Tobin Reese Fine Art

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About  Jose Tanig Joya

Born:  1931 - Manila, Philippines
Died:   1995
Known for:  abstract expressionist easel painting, murals, teaching