Purveyor of Knowledge and Emerging Publisher of Philippine Art
December 17, 2017


ART COMMENTARY: ROBERT KO

by: Samantha King

          

Born on June 5, 1951 in Tondo, Manila, he was the third of seven children of Luis Ko and Rosalina Ho. A year after he was born, the family moved from Binondo to Caloocan where his mother ran a sari-sari store. Ko began showing an interest in art when he was just three years old, sketching with crayons and filling up the walls and doors of his mother’s store with chalk drawings. It was when he turned nine that Ko began a more realistic approach to art and, in 1963, his artworks began to be displayed at the school lobby. During this year, he also entered a United Nations art competition and won first place during the 1964 Caloocan Foundation Day celebration with ‘Belen’, made of plaster of Paris, wood, and paper. Ko enrolled at FEU for a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and studied impressionism and plein-air painting under Ibarra de la Rosa, while at the same time playing guitar in a roving band. He won awards in FEATI’s annual student exhibitions and eventually obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. It was after the death of his father that Ko started to devote himself to painting full-time.

 

In 1975, he met Florentino Dauz, then the Director of Broadcast who became his art patron along with two other supporters. It was at this time when he began joining local and international competitions that he started to get noticed and was soon commissioned to do murals. To this day, he is still part of the faculty of the Far Eastern University Institute of Architecture and Fine Arts and his artworks are still being acknowledged everywhere—from calendars to magazines all over the country.

           

One specific moment in Robert Ko’s life which greatly appealed to me was when he participated in Taos Pusong Hinahandog Namin sa Inyo, the ‘Art Exposition to Feed the Hungry and Starving Children of Negros’ held at the Olympia Complex from October to December of 1985. I think it was very noble of him to volunteer the income gained from his paintings for the poor children of Negros. Paintings do not come cheap—especially from artists such as himself, and with the cost of living already a bit high back in those days, it was really a very selfless thing for him to do.

 

Reading about the life of Robert Ko, I had a stronger reaffirmation of something I already discovered for myself in school, which is -- perseverance. A person just can’t go far in life without this moral, for without the will to persevere—nothing can be achieved. More so if your ambitions fall in the line of Robert Ko’s work, in which, perseverance is not just a vital ingredient—but the essence of it all.

 

What makes Robert Ko outstanding is his dedication to the field of art. He is constantly seeking to improve his skills by experimenting on different styles of painting as well as being a competitive yet respectful and open-minded contributor to the ever-evolving cycle of art.

 

 (Fourteen year old, Samantha King, is a sophomore student of the Immaculate Conception Academy. She loves all kinds of books, classical guitar, soccer, and good works of art. To Samantha, “a good artwork is not just about the quality and masterful hand strokes from the artist, it is also about the effort exerted, dedication, and sweat put into the work that truly makes it a masterpiece.”)