Mauro Malang Santos (b. 1928) If you own and would like to sell a painting by Mauro Santos please contact us
Mauro Malang Santos was born on January 20, 1928, in Santa Cruz, Manila, to proud parents Don Santos and Juliana Malang. At only ten years of age, Malang’s parents arranged for the boy to have art lessons under tutor Teodoro Buenaventura. The introductory drawing instruction he received stayed with him throughout his years in Antonio Regidor Elementary and Arellano High School, and influenced his next step in education as he enrolled in the University of the Philippines’ School of Fine Arts in 1946. After only one semester, and at age 19, Malang left the university and accepted a position in the Manila Chronicle’s art department. He would train under cartoonist Liborio “Gat” Gatbonton there, which sparked a great interest in him for cartoon illustration. The inspired young Malang created an original comic strip during his apprenticeship: Kosme, the Cop, Retired. This daily strip was always given English text, which made it stand out as the country’s first. It was around this time that he began receiving further encouragement and instruction from another self-taught painter, Hernando R. Ocampo, who was editing at the time for a subset of the Manila Chronicle, This Week Magazine.
By 1955, Malang helped to open a gallery whose main focus would be cartoons. The gallery was called the Bughouse and presented his own works along with those of contemporaries like Larry Alcala, Hugo Yonzon, and his mentor, “Gat” Gatbonton. Two years later, Malang was receiving praise for his cartoons and would be included in the esteemed Twelve Artists selection by Lyd Arguilla of the Philippine Art Gallery. The following year, 1958, he was also given the Award for Editorial Design by the Art Directors Guild of the Philippines. That same year, Malang would be commissioned to create the mural (and one of his best known works) Barrio Fiesta, by the FGU-Insular Life Building. Pepito Blanco, who had taught Malang to mix oil paints, would assist him in this endeavor.
Lyd Arguilla’s Philippine Art Gallery was the first to offer Malang a solo exhibition in 1962. This would be a show comprised entirely of small pen-and-ink cartoons on simple white backgrounds. It was at this exhibit that artist Manansala reportedly pulled Malang aside to advise the addition of color as backdrop to help his images pop. Malang heeded this advice, and would make experimentation with color a prime element of his future work.
Accolades continued rolling in for the artist as he was awarded a TOYM in 1963, and then, after receiving various honors over the years from the Society of Philippine Illustrators and Cartoonists, he was bestowed with the title of Artist of the Year in 1964. The next year, Malang worked in collaboration with Asuncion, Bungian, Kiukok, Manansala, Ocampo and Yonzon to open Gallery Seven- the first Makati art gallery. By 1966, Malang began a new project to bring printmaking, a huge passion of his, into the spotlight. Together with a few major contemporaries and friends, the project called Art for the Masses introduced affordable art for the first time through prints which allowed a broader base of art appreciators to get involved as collectors and supporters of the arts. The Luz Gallery would publish a book of Malang’s work the following year.
The City of Manila bestowed the great honor of the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan upon Malang in 1981. Ten years later, he would be holding a landmark exhibition composed of 28 original works that marked a drastic shift in his career: into the field of abstract and cubist, and away from cartoons for a while. Though he devoted much of his career and gained fame for cartoon work and illustrations, his art evolved toward more abstract modernist oils; his signature subjects to become female figures of the local slums, dressed in traditional clothing and carrying baskets with fruits. He never quit trying out new media, colors and approaches, which is apparent in his body of work over the centuries. As he grew older, Malang’s imagination only grew taller and wider.
Malang married Mary San Pedro and together they had four children. Two of his offspring, Steve Santos and Soler Santos, followed in their father’s footsteps to pursue art careers as well. Malang made 78 in 2007, and exhibited that year his latest collection at the Art Center in the SM Megamall. He continues to paint and experiment with his art, and his prolific collection of singular works continues to expand. Malang has said that it is his hope that the next generation of Filipino artists will “seek more guidance from Oriental rather than Western painting traditions” and encourages young Filipino artists to learn their skill through doing; not only through books and school.
“You don’t really have to learn what you feel from books… What I would have learned at Fine Arts School, I learned in 20 years at the Chronicle; that’s why I call it Chronicle College.” -Malang
Malang’s enthusiasm and devotion to cartoons, print, illustrations, and the sharing of ideas have hugely influenced many artists of his and the following generations.
Affiliated Schools, Galleries and Organizations Teodoro Buenaventura Elementary School Arellano High School University of the Philippines Otis Art Institute, California The Bughouse Gallery This Week Magazine Manila Chronicle Kiko Printing Philippine Art Gallery Weekly Graphic Magazine (Art Consultant) Insight Magazine (Art Consultant) Focus Magazine (Art Consultant) Lifestyle Asia Magazine (Art Consultant) West Design Studio
Best Known Works Traffic, 1953 Street Fighti, 1951 The Yellow Sky, 1959 Quarter Moon, 1963 Gate to Intramuros, 1963 Barrio Fiesta, 1958 (mural) Chain Gang Charlie (cartoon)
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