In 1964, a European Swiss designer and jewellery store owner of Estrella del Norte (a shop for the illustrious and wealthy whose main branch was in Paris) in the Philippines invited a young juvenile delinquent to design jewellery on the spot. In twenty minutes, the young man finished seven designs in full color. The European was astounded by the output, signed the young man in to work at his shop with the instruction to create anything he wanted and never to follow the trend.

This fateful meeting begun the career of one of Asia’s most progressive and original sculptors, Eduardo Castrillo. One instant, he was a youth unsure of what to do with himself; the next, he was a celebrated sculptor. Castrillo never formally studied sculpture. His formal art schooling was limited to commercial advertising art. (When in later years he chose to further his studies after gaining recognition as a sculptor, he took up architectural subjects rather than art courses).

In 1966, Castrillo broke into the contemporary art scene in an exhibition that caused a stir as critics had difficulty categorizing the range of his works. That year also marked the beginning of the trail of collectors to his atelier and international opportunities. Five years later, at the age of twenty-nine he would be receive the city’s highest art award The Araw ng Maynila Centennial Award, the Jaycees Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award, and the outstanding Makati Resident Award as well as the nation’s top award, the Republic Cultural Heritage Award bestowed on artists of national prominence. Then too he was sent as the countries representative to the Paris Beinnale and following thereafter to the Venice Biennale. Castrillo was awed by seeing European refinement in traditional and modern art and was convinced that some of his techniques were not being used in Europe, particularly embossed copper and constructed and welded brass.

From his entry into art through the metier of the intricacies of jewellery design, Castrillo moved from strength to strength creating monuments, reliefs, gallery pieces, objects d’art and theatre sets. But always he would return to creating his jewellery, the roots and wellspring of his larger works in welded brass.

Castrillo has numerous works worldwide including Hongkong, New York, Taipei, and Singapore. His works range from abstraction, figurative, hammerout, jewelry, international and religious concepts.

Below are some of his famous works.

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People Power Monument (1993)
EDSA

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The Martyrdom of Dr. Jose P. Rizal (1991)
Rizal Park, Manila

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Andres Bonifacio (1986)
Fort Bonifacio

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Pieta (1966)
Loyola Memorial Park, Parañaque

Now, Misamis Oriental Governor Oscar Moreno wants to immortalize the history of his province. The governor’s choice for a public sculpture of such magnitude fell on foremost Filipino sculptor Eduardo S. Castrillo, perhaps the next National Artist for Sculpture. Three Castrillos are now rising in Cagayan de Oro. One, the Heritage of Misamis Oriental, is a minimum of 23 feet in height, a constructivist symphony in brass typical of Castrillo’s signature modular lines. A second one, “Ang mga Bayani ng Media,” is probably the first such public sculptural homage to fallen members of the Fourth Estate, a gift of the governor to media.

One is awed by the record of Eduardo S. Castrillo in the realm of public art. There are Castrillos in Singapore; Washington, D.C.; Geneva, Switzerland; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Paris, France; San Diego, California; Seville, Spain; Poland; Los Angeles, California; and in New York City; and there are17 Castrillos in Guam, and 25 in Hong Kong.

Indeed, while there are Castrillos all over the world, it has taken this long, until this day, to realize a Castrillo in Mindanao. The moment of Mindanao’s aridity has ended and it has taken the governor of Misamis Oriental to break the impressive record of this artist, hailed by the Washington Post as “the phenomenon of Philippine art.” Finally, Mindanao will have not just one but three Castrillos. It was Nick Joaquin who gave the most memorable epithet of Ed Castrillo as the artist who “gives us a portrait of the Filipino as grandiose.” Working on the philosophy that his art must dispel the Filipino’s self-notion of being small and miniature, Castrillo’s artworks are artistic behemoths that draw awe and inspiration.

Article on Capitol Monuments here

(with excerpts from Antonio Montalvan’s The next Castrillo published on May 04, 2009 at Phil. Daily Inquirer)

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