“It leaves one to ponder, how will we be remembered a century from now?”
We visited Juan Luna’s captivating masterpiece, “Hymen, O Hymenee” at the Ayala Museum last September.
The artwork is undeniably magnificent, and the museum’s presentation made the experience unforgettable. Yet, seeing it in person left me…feeling queasy.
Juan Luna was a complicated soul and therein lay his magic. His internal chaos gave birth to exquisite artistry. In the realm of being a ‘bad boy,’ he might as well have been the Caravaggio of Philippine art.
Luna’s life held darker chapters, including the tragic end of his wife and mother-in-law whose lives ended with his hands. He murdered them and these details remained absent from the exhibit 🙄 of course, of course.
Perhaps he was bipolar, but the psychology and psychiatry of our modern world did not exist in the 1800’s.
If he were among us today, he might face the ire of cancel culture. Nevertheless, as of 2023
We honor him as a hero.
‘Luna’ painted this masterpiece during his honeymoon with Paz. It portrays a bride entering her husband’s home, surrounded by loved ones invoking the God Hymen, the deity of marriage ceremonies, with feasts and songs. The bride is modeled after Paz, the woman he loved, the woman whose life he took, and the woman whose visage graces this celebrated canvas.
Art’s essence is to provoke feelings and thoughts, and in this regard, Juan Luna is exceptional. His legacy endures because history has deemed his actions worthy, overlooking his crimes and indiscretions.
It leaves one to ponder, how will we be remembered a century from now?
Will our own missteps and indiscretions be forgiven if we ‘succeed’ by the standards of the future society?
We won’t be part of the jury that decides. It is the people of a century hence who will cast that final verdict.
(That is, if you even left a mark in this world.)