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Three Women with Baskets






Language Group


Artist Collective


Geographical Setting

Metro Manila



Making Classification


Making Sub Classification

Data currently unavailable

Anthropological Class


Museological Class

Data currently unavailable

Museological Sub Class

Data currently unavailable




Oil on canvas


90.50 x 75.50 x cm

Artist Statement

Data currently unavailable


To know more about this artwork, watch its feature from CCP's Cultural Cache Online video series: Cultural Cache Online Season 3: “Three Women with Baskets” by Anita Magsaysay-Ho


The painting by Anita Magsaysay-Ho is an agricultural scene fairly typical in her entire oeuvre. The female figures are Classically composed, recalled in formulations of feminine beauty in the Western world’s Three Graces and Three Muses through the last two millennia—visually readable as re-set in the context of rice agriculture. The reference to rice is perceptible to most Filipinos: the baskets used for separating the grain from the chaff. In Magsaysay-Ho’s formulation, the women are abstracted into a prototypical figure identified by peasant dress and headscarf. Contextualized in a flattened color field that also signals a generic sense of agricultural labor in the Philippines, the women are anonymized and made symbolic, not of beauty, but of a labor archetype: the peasant as woman. Magsaysay-Ho’s painterly technique of quick strokes is deployed in this case to convey an idea of grace in a green space that is interrupted by a dark region of paint.

Curator’s commentary

The topic of rice and rice agriculture remained an undercurrent in the Philippine visual arts through its various trajectories in the 20th century. Even when the topic is immanent rather than overt in the artwork itself, such as in this painting by Anita Magsaysay-Ho, the intersection of rice and art inevitably brings to surface the attitudes towards this staple in the various, historically determined cultures thriving in the Philippines. The Magsaysay-Ho painting idealizes peasant experience in the fields (very much as National Artist Fernando Amorsolo did) despite her committed Modernism with a proclivity towards Social Realism. This idealization was given a visual counter narrative by a more dramatic vein of Social Realism than Magsaysay-Ho’s, that held sway in the decades succeeding the emergence of Modernism in the Philippines—furthermore with a shift from rice to sugar plantation agriculture.

Nevertheless, both the deployment of Modernism to persist with a Philippine pastorale and its counter narrative in another, Social Realist but equally Modernist stream, can be contrasted with the relation of rice agriculture and the bulol and punamhan sculpture in traditional Ifugao culture. The latter tradition as expressed in sculpture neither idealizes nor critiques rice agriculture, because, outside Modernism and indeed outside all civilizational discourses, cultural expression exists outside the desire to idealize nor critique. The tradition exists to give the community with physical metonym for its complex cosmology. 


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