Artists demand justice for renowned social realist painter

Artists demanded justice for the killing of a renowned visual artist Wednesday night in Montalban, Rizal by still unknown assailants.

Arts and media alliance Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) said it is outraged over what it called “senseless act of violence” that killed social realist painter Gene de Loyola.

“We urge the government to waste no time in going after the killers of Gene,” LODI said.

De Loyola, whose paintings hang in the National Museum and other major exhibits, used his art to call attention to political, social and economic issues, the group said.

Gene de Loyola (image courtesy of his family)

LODI added the late artist also went beyond the comfort zone of easel work, organizing to help both artists and local communities.

De Loyola’s daughter, Maan, said the victim went to Montalban to paint last Wednesday but, on his way home, decided to pass by the barricades of a homeowners’ group engaged in a dispute with a big developer.

“Papa goes there to help out. The organization’s president, Jun Elarde, was apparently the target,” Maan posted on her Facebook account.

“[Elarde] suffered multiple gunshots, and Papa (De Loyola) took several gunshots in the head and shoulders,” she added.

LODI said Do Loyola was no stranger to grassroots organizing during Ferdinand Marcos’s martial law.

“He left the comfortable world of advertising to immerse full time in art and activism, honing his talent to aid the broad protest movement against the Marcos dictatorship,” the group said.

In 1975, De Loyola co-founded the Sining Binhi art group of Ermita to explore themes of the Filipino identity. A center for young and progressive artists, the group held art workshops for urban poor youth in Smokey Mountain, Tondo, a fishing village in Paranaque and the street children of Baclaran.

In 1981, De Loyola helped in launching BUKLOD SINING, an organization known for creating the huge protest murals featured in growing protests against the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

“We grieve for Gene and condole with his loved ones. LODI stands with them in their quest for justice for Gene and Jun,” LODI said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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