Lee Aguinaldo

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Lee Aguinaldo
Lee Aguinaldo.jpg
Born 5 September 1933
New York
Died 16 January 2007

Leopoldo Aguinaldo, Jr., famously known as Lee Aguinaldo (5 September 1933-16 January 2007), is a pioneer of the modern abstract movement in the Philippines. He was considered among the foremost modernists in the country. He was among the first in the local art industry who adopted the ideas of Pop Art through incorporating objects and printed media. He is dubbed as "Mr. Cool of Philippine Art.

He held his first exhibit at the Philippine Art Gallery in 1958. His first works were influenced by Jackson Pollock of the New York School. Through the years, he developed several styles of painting: "Flick" painting, where he flicked paint from a palette knife on canvas; "galumphing," which incorporated a few pop images and was largely influenced by Robert Motherwell; and "linear" painting.

The Ateneo de Manila University Art Gallery, which celebrated its 50th year with the theme “Ateneo Art Gallery at 50: Lee Aguinaldo and Modern Masterpieces” features the exhibit entitled “Lee Aguinaldo: In Retrospect,” which will run until the 5 February 2011. It features some of Aguinaldo's best works including “Monday”, "Homage to Pollock", "Explosion In Earth Colors", "Explosion No. 147”, "Painting In Brown”, "Spring No. 2", "Self Portrait", "Homage to Vermeer", "Linear 1955", "Metaphysical Charlie", "Self Portait No. 2," "Two Alligators F****ng", and "Zobel, Aguinaldo, and Chabet". The exhibit aims to give tribute to Aguinaldo by presenting his different facets as an artist and understanding him and his personal struggles. The book The Art and Life of Lee Aguinaldo will also be launched in the exhibit in 3 February 2011.


Early life, education and painting style

Lee was born in New York on 5 September 1933. As a boy, he often visited the Metropolitan Museum and was exposed to the works of Titian and Rembrandt. He also got inspired by the New York School or Abstract Expressionism and postwar American art movement, which incorporates the element of chance and the unconscious.

He was not able to get a formal art education as he took up commerce in college although he educated himself of art by reading about art, art history, and new movements in America, as well as having intellectual discussions and critiques of his artworks. His first few paintings, as inspired by the New York School, was called by one critic as “action painting” because its style evoked movement. Pollock, for example, was known for his drip paintings wherein he poured splashes of paint on the surface of the canvas, which in turn creates energetic patterns. But after receiving several awards and having critically acclaimed shows in the 1960s, Aguinaldo gave up his position in their family business and decided to pursue his dreams of becoming a full-fledged artist.

Besides linear painting, Aguinaldo was also known for his “flick” paintings wherein he flicked paint from a palette knife onto the canvas and “galumphing” paintings where he incorporated photographs.

He died from a heart attack at the age of 74. His last art exhibit was 1992's “Rembrandt Light Series” at the Lopez Museum. His exhibit featured intimate pen and ink drawings as inspired by self-portraits of Rembrandt van Rijn who is one of Lee’s favorite painters.


  • White City at the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) annual competition and exhibition, 2nd prize, 1961
  • Explosion in Gold AAP annual competition and exhibition, first prize, 1962
  • Explosion in Red City AAP annual competition and exhibition, honorable mention, 1963
  • Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award from the City of Manila, 1975


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