Tonight I braved the traffic and headed across town to the Metropolitan Museum for the opening party of the exhibit of (mostly) portraits by Chilean artist Claudio Bravo organized by the Ambassador of Chile as part of his country's national day celebrations.
This is a photo of a coffeetable book
with one of my favorite Bravo paintings on the cover.
It's not on exhibit in Manila, though.
I really like Claudio Bravo's works, and his paintings of people are particularly provocative because they tell stories. You look at them and try to imagine what they are doing or saying. I like his straight portraits a lot as well, but I've always admired his paintings of people, that are not necessarily portraits, more.
PORTRAITS OF MANILA SOCIETY
However, his exhibit in Manila is mostly straight portraits. But so many of them are truly beautiful, and they're of interest to Manilans because these particular portraits on exhibit were painted in the 1960s and 1970s, when Claudio Bravo visited Manila with his painting kit.
He'd basically done the rounds of Manila society and painted the Who's Who. And this exhibit that opens tomorrow to the public is literally a record of Manila society in the 1960s and 1970s.
A FUTILE WISH
When I got to talk to the Chilean Ambassador, who is one of the nicest ambassadors in Manila, by the way, I said to him: "Gosh, I wish Claudio Bravo was still alive. I would have happily paid a small fortune to have myself painted by him."
I can't remember who it was, but a society lady was within earshot when I said this to the ambassador, and she said with a smile: "You must've been something like four years old then. I'm sure you'll be able to find a talented artist to do your portrait in this style."
Yes, but it wouldn't be a Claudio Bravo.
REMEMBERING THE B SCHOOL
Manila's art world was here tonight as well. Tonight was one of those few times when the diplomatic and art worlds came together.
And then I bumped into a couple who I had known separately a very long time ago. The wife was a schoolmate of mine and I'd always liked her; while the husband is a very big businessman who I'd met long before they were married, when he was studying at Harvard Business School and I was at college in Manila.
One semester break, I was in Boston and visiting some Filipino friends at Harvard for a couple of days; and one of my friends had arranged for this businessman -- then a grad school student -- to take me around campus and bring me to classes with him at the B School, which was what Harvard Business School was called at least in those days. I don't know if things have changed.
GOING TO CLASS
Anyway, I had a very nice time playing Harvard Business School student for a day or two. I remember sitting in that famous half-circle set-up next to this guy, and looking at the name plates of everyone.
It seemed that there were people from all over the world, and they all had famous last names I recognized. This guy who'd taken me to his class has a very famous last name as well, by the way.
And tonight we reminisced about that visit to Harvard and laughed about it, as he'd had to suddenly introduce me as his guest in class -- I think his professor had asked him to do so on-the-spot -- and he hadn't known what to say.
And apparently, many of his classmates have become very successful businessmen and professionals in various countries around the world. This friend is certainly in that league too.
So tonight was about art, old memories, and editing a friend's article in the car on the way over to the MET, that I swear I could've written myself. The latter is about a series of exotic places that we've both been to -- although I'm happy to point out to him that I was there ten years ahead of him, even if he's about that many years older than me.
Just another day in our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.
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