Cultural Center of the Philippines


Amburayan Queen

1982 / Acrylic / 44 x 60 cm / Artist: Prudencio Lamarroza / Private collection

The inspiration for Lamarroza’s Amburayan Queen series is the once-mighty Amburayan River of the north, which was the river of his youth, and the ethnic culture that flourished along its banks. As central image in many of his works, she is not only the spirit of the river but the symbol of all nature as wellβ€”pristine nature unstinting with her treasures and always renewing herself in her numerous metamorphoses.

In this work, as in the entire series, Lamarroza goes beyond mimetic realism to an original style that fuses surrealism and pop, with elements derived from indigenous ethnic designs. Pop in feeling is the figure of the Amburayan Queen against the background of the river, now a dry bed of sand and dry stones, an ecological comment. In her iconic quality, frontal in presentation, she is a two-dimensional and symmetrical figure, gazing forward from small piercing eyes, her carriage regal. Marking her breasts are two circular-design areas, like pineapple fruits, in counterpoint with the horizontal bands of her torso. Equally astonishing is her headdress, an abstract design that is a play of color and tone, rhythmic and of a mathematical precision, from the artist’s Laoag or Light series. This lends her a queenly splendor as it recalls a large spreading crown, a magnificent superstructure, sparkling in its tonal play, its extremely refined execution giving it an airy lightness in a totality of subtle balance and harmony.

Written by Alice G. Guillermo (1994)