fanstastic painter of modern art
Born on September 12, 1940 in San Pascual, Buhi, Camarines Sur, Roger San Miguel took up Fine Arts at the University of Sto. Tomas under the sponsorship of Filipino philanthropist and art connoisseur Don Ramon Camacho of Cagayan De Oro. He had his first one man show at the Philippine Art Gallery in 1965. Like Paco Gorospe, his exposure at the PAG landed him his first overseas exhibit the following year at the Art International Galleries in California. He started out as a member of the conservatives’ group Talahib.
Now residing in BF Homes, Paranaque, 73 year old Roger San Miguel recounts:
Because an artist sells his artwork as a means of livelihood, Roger believes in “commercial art”. Art brokerage then is part and parcel of the artist’s life, and not just by street artists who peddle their art to tourists. This is not to be confused with hawkers of ‘rubbish’ art – artists who limit themselves to copying and never rising above the rut of the mediocre.
“Mabini then was a hub for different groups of artists, a Divisoria (marketplace) of sorts. During our night sessions when we had dinner and drank together, we would share ideas and brainstorm on issues concerning the arts. We would learn by comparison and experience. Empathy (damayan) and helpfulness (tulungan) prevailed.”
“The notion that all Mabini artists produce ‘rubbish’ art is false. Studied artists (those who finished a fine arts degree) set up shop in Mabini side by side street artists (self-taught).”
Then came the shift to the Makati commercial district in the 70s with the opening of malls and office buildings.
“The first art galleries that opened in Makati employed artists who came from Mabini”, he shares. “Because of better venues and better presentation, art galleries in Makati were able to charge higher prices for their paintings even though they featured the same (Mabini) artists.”
All progressive artists, the Mabini Triumverate of Paco Gorospe (Picasso of the Philippines), Roger San Miguel (modern impressionist heavily influenced by Gauguin), and Francisco Ello (deceased in the 90s) boarded and painted together in Paco’s Mabini gallery producing several interaction works.
One among the selected art pieces acquired by the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) to adorn its vast interiors is an oil brushwork in cool, monochromatic tones by artist Roger San Miguel. The serene painting depicts the bounty of our coastal waters and swamplands, with fishing a rich source of livelihood for many of our folks in the countryside.
Having painted for 50 years, Roger San Miguel finds satisfaction in his life’s work. He continues to paint in his home studio which he has fondly named Art in Heaven Philippines.