Primer: Raul Lebajo

Considered as the pioneer of Environmental Surrealism in the Philippines, visual artist Raul Lebajo turns 80 in a unique virtual event to be organized by Galerie Joaquin this September. The event celebrates Lebajo’s more than five decades of artmaking, and his greatest contribution to Philippine art, a unique genre of surrealism that is genuinely Filipino.

The event gives a sneak peek into the Lebajo Art Farm, a wellspring of the artist’s creativity who has drawn inspiration from the natural environment. The online celebration will also serve as an opportunity for guests to share a dialogue with the artist  as he reminisces milestones in his artistic journey that traverses Asia to Europe to North America. Among expected guests are Lebajo’s closest friends in the art scene.

Raul Lebajo was often mentioned in the same light in the 1970s as National Artists Vicente Manansala, Victorio Edades, and Cesar Legaspi. No less than esteemed art critics Leo Benesa and Alice Guillermo have written extensively about his practice. Lebajo also has an important entry in Purita Kalaw-Ledesma’s definitive book “Pioneers of Philippine Art” and has graced the cover of Asian Art News.

RAUL HEMBRA LEBAJO (b.1941) took up Art Studies at the University of the East in 1966-67. He graduated with a BFA from the Philippine Women’s University in 1969. Lebajo won first prize in the 1969 Shell National Student Art Competition and has held shows in Switzerland, USA, France, Kuala Lumpur and Thailand.

With his works featured in important collections abroad, including the Chicago Cultural Center in the United States, Le Plaza Hotel in Switzerland and the Asian Art Archive in Hong Kong, Lebajo is one of the most recognized artists outside the country. Along with Galo Ocampo and HR Ocampo, Lebajo can be credited for popularizing a distinctly Philippine brand of surrealism. While his contemporaries were using traditional genre subjects or social themes, Lebajo was creating images that are dreamlike and hallucinogenic. This paved the way for a new generation of surrealists and expressionists, such as Onib Olmedo, among others. Long before anyone was concerned with the welfare of the environment, Lebajo was consistently using themes of nature and the preservation of the environment in his paintings.

Raul Lebajo at 80, A Birthday Celebration will be streamed online through Zoom and Facebook at 4:00 PM on Sunday, September 12, 2021.

Galerie Joaquin is located at the 3rd Level of The Podium Mall in Mandaluyong City. For inquiries, contact Galerie Joaquin at +63 917 5822115 or email

To watch the livestream, visit Galerie Joaquin’s Facebook page or

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