May 17, 2020

The theme for the International Museum Day (IMD) 2020 — “Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion”— could not be more relevant today amidst the global health crisis. While the virus affects everyone, levelling the playing field so to speak, its impact has made social and economic inequalities even more glaring for indigent communities especially the urban poor and daily wage earners who cannot even exercise the most basic right to shelter and food.

In observance of IMD 2020 and the National Heritage Month, the Ateneo Art Gallery presents the series ART for RIGHTS* featuring selected works from the AAG Collection that communicate salient points in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Visual artists have always championed these rights as a way of speaking up for others. Although our museum’s doors remain closed, we are grateful to share works of art that speak of realities we continue to face today. Similarly, we commend contemporary artists who continue to be vigilant through their works, as seen on social media, especially during this pandemic situation.

*This series is inspired by an ongoing program at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Belgium titled "Fine Arts and Human Rights".



Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. (Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

"Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government: When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins." - Benjamin Franklin


Edgar Talusan Fernandez, Kinupot, 1977, Molded canvas over wood armature, Gift of the Artist

Kinupot is a 1977 work by Edgar Talusan Fernandez derived from the words “kinuha” (to take) and “sinupot” (to bag). Created during the Martial Law era, the work references desaparesidos (missing persons) while depicting restraint felt during a period of media censorship. Edgar Talusan Fernandez (b. 1955) is a social realist painter whose works often portray the country’s sociopolitical issues. Known for his political activism, he is a founding member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines and a co-founder of activist group Kaisahan.

"In a free state, the tongues too should be free." - Erasmus

Jack en Poy

Lazaro Soriano (1943-2020), Jack en Poy, 1987, Oil on canvas, Gift from Mr. & Mrs. Ernesto Salas

Created post-EDSA, Lazaro “Aro” Soriano’s Jack en Poy references various hand gestures during the Marcos regime. Named after the Filipino “rock-paper-scissors” game, this work presents different Filipino political figures and other characters in a fiesta setting. Lazaro “Aro” Soriano (b. 1943 - d. 2020) was a Manila-based social realist painter, sculptor and art restorer. He was a teacher at the Philippine Women’s University (PWU). In 1992, he was honored with the the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Thirteen Artists Award.


Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. (Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

"The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world." - Franklin Roosevelt)


Antonio Austria, Sto. Niño de los Pintores, 1981, Oil on canvas, Gift of an Ateneo alumnus

Antonio Austria (b. 1936) is a Filipino artist whose works are inspired by local folk arts and craft, religious icons, and ethnic motifs. He taught for over twenty years at his alma mater the University of Sto. Tomas, where he graduated Bachelor of Fine Arts, Major in Painting in 1956. He was honored in the first Thirteen Artists exhibition at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in 1970. In 2016, he mounted a retrospective exhibition at the CCP that spans over six decades of his artistic practice.

Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. (Article 16.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

“The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate." - James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, on the Religious Rights of Man: Written in 1784-85

Malay Bride

Redza Piyadasa, Malay Bride, 1990, Mixed media, Gift of the Artist

Redza Piyadasa (b. 1939 - d. 2007) was a Malaysian art historian, critic and artist known for his contributions to the development of contemporary art in Malaysia. He started his renowned Malaysian Series in 1981, highlighting tjhe country’s rich cultural heritage as he tapped into the lives and rituals of ordinary Malaysians through his mixed media portraits.


Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services...(Excerpt from Article 25.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

"The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world." - Franklin Roosevelt


BenCab, The Family that Starves Together Stays Together, 1968, Pen and ink on paper, Purchase Fund from Fernando Zóbel

Benedicto Reyes Cabrera (b. 1942), also known as BenCab, is a seminal figure in contemporary Filipino art known for his large, abstract paintings depicting mise-en-scenes of Filipino culture. He graduated from the University of the Philippines with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in 1963. In 2006, he was conferred the Order of National Artist for Visual Arts presented by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Malacañang Palace. His artworks have been loved by many around the world; they have been exhibited in London, Singapore, Tokyo, Paris, and in various regions of the Philippines. Today, BenCab has his namesake museum in Baguio City which features his own works, pieces from his collection, and the works of other artists in the area.

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality. (Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

"Nobody leaves home, unless home is a mouth of a shark." - Warsan Shire


Käthe Kollwitz, Children Begging For Food, Undated, Lithography, Gift of Fernando Zóbel

Käthe Kollwitz (b. 1867 - d. 1945) was a German artist who worked with painting, printmaking and sculpture. Her works would often portray human suffering. An advocate for victims of social injustice and inhumanity, Kollwitz was a practitioner of German Expressionism whose images of war and poverty were recurring themes in her works. At present, there are two museums in Germany dedicated to her work: the Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln (est. 1985) and the Käthe Kollwitz Museum Berlin (est. 1986).


All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination. (Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

"Where justice falls short, violence begins." -


Anna Fer, Oppose State Terrorism, 1985, Offset Lithography, Gift of U.P. Kaakbay

Oppose State Terrorism is a poster by Anna Fer for a symposium part of a series of talks on the victims of the Martial Law organized by ALAB and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

Anna Ferrazinni (b. 1941), otherwise known Anna Fer, was a peace advocate whose works often depicted socipolitical themes. Her works would explore Filipino politics, colonial mentality, cultural minorities, feminism and ecology. She graduated Bachelor of Arts, major in English Literature from the College of the Holy Spirit, and went on to take graduate courses in Asian studies from the University of the Philippines Asian Center. She has also illustrated for several publications, most notably Kudaman: une epopée Palawan chantée par Usuj (A Palawan Epic Sung by Usuj) by ethnolinguist Nicole Revel-MacDonald.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. (Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

"A man's life is worth much more than any sacrifice, no matter how great. For the greatest, the most just, the noblest cause on earth is the right to live." -
Yasmina Khadra


Virgilio Aviado, Evelio Javier 2/20, 1986, Aquatint and etching, Gift of the Artist

Virgilio "Pandy" Aviado (b.1944) is recognized as one of the pioneers of contemporary printmaking in the country. Heavily influenced by the father of Philippine contemporary printmaking, Manuel Rodriguez Sr., and with support from Fernando Zóbel, Aviado pursued his studies both locally and abroad to learn and work with leading European printmakers. Aviado served as president of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) and was a former director of CCP’s Visual Arts Coordinating Center. In 2018, he received the Gawad Tanglaw ng Lahi from the Ateneo de Manila University. According to Aviado, what really shaped him as an artist was the turmoil during the Marcos regime, particularly the death of his contemporary Evelio Javier.

Evelio Javier (b. 1942 - d. 1986) was a lawyer who ran for governor of Antique, becoming the youngest provincial governor in the Philippines at the age of 29. He was an opponent of the dictatorship of then President Ferdinand Marcos, playing a key role in the campaign for the opposition behind Corazon Aquino and Salvador Laurel in the February 1986 snap presidential elections. He was assassinated five days after the snap presidential elections, during a time when public outrage was at its height against the dictatorship.