Modernists like Hernando Ocampo, Vicente Manansala, Cesar Legaspi, Romeo Tabuena and Carlos Francisco, and others were influenced by the western art styles. They demonstrated in their artworks different western art styles such as post-impressionism, cubism, abstraction, expressionism, and surrealism.
The influence of the international style in the Philippine modern art is clearly seen in the works of Filipino artists. In music, some musicians used native and foreign influences in composing a national music. In sculpture, modern Filipino sculptors adhered to the latest trends in the international scene. Some of them believed that national identity in sculpture is not necessary and that their works should be evaluated and appraised according to their “pure form and good design”. Some Filipinos artists applied their own expression of modern art by portraying the Filipino way of life in his/her artwork. The artists also used contemporary conditions and aspirations of the Filipino masses.
In their pursuit, to gain identity in their artworks, some artists developed a style in using colors that was entirely different from foreign artworks. According to Emmanuel Torres, two characteristics can be perceived in an artwork of local painters. These are the following:
- They expressed sensuousness through loud clash of colors and curving shapes. These are seen in the works of Ocampo,
, Manansala, and Tabuena. Malang
- They avoid too open display of emotions. Painters favor the witty, and the refined rather than the brutal or the monumental.
Using local subject matters, reinterpreting Philippine history, by using folk subjects or by exploring indigenous motif some artists gained national identity that made their works different or uniquely Filipino modern art.