Two heavyweights in the art scene join forces to take on a long-standing motif in the history of Philippine visual art.
Painter Dominic Rubio, a renowned artist known for his colonial imagery, and Michael Cacnio, a sculptor famous for his ability to accurately capture the psyche of the Filipino through his genre, slice-of-life sculptures, partner up for this exciting new exhibition that sees them tackling the tradition of using market vendors as a subject, following the steps of the likes of 19th century painting pioneer Damian Domingo, Modernist iconoclast Mauro “Malang” Santos, and National Artist Vicente Manansala.
The vendor motif originated in the tipos del pais garden scenes popularized in the 19th century paintings. It later evolved in the early 20th century, during the pre-Modernist period, to encapsulate the practice of National Artist Fernando Amorsolo, who painted market scenes that were brimming with light and color. It was the Modernists, however, who used the motif to demonstrate their new aesthetic direction—distorting and abstracting the figurations to show multiple perspectives, expressions, and gestural approaches. Throughout the development of Philippine Modernism, the idyllic theme of vendors selling their wares has become stage for the artist’s own temperament—the intention being to bring personal expression and emotion to a familiar motif.
Dominic Rubio and Michael Cacnio, two of the major names in art today, are inheritors of this tradition—putting them in a long-line of important artists, such as the aforementioned Domingo, Malang, Amorsolo, and Manansala, who have taken on the vendor motif. This exhibition gives audiences a chance to not only experience history as it unfolds, but give them a unique opportunity to understand how the works of two seminal artists can combine to form a singular stunning exhibition of painting and sculpture.
For Rubio and Cacnio, the emotional platform they build this exhibition on is one of nostalgia and an examination of the Filipino psyche—and a partnership between these two to tackle such a familiar conceptual direction is truly a thrilling prospect. This exhibition invites the two artists to re-examine this Modernist standby and bring their own individual visions to the vendor theme.
Renowned painter Dominic Rubio has participated in several exhibitions in and around the region, including shows in New York, Hong Kong and Singapore. Critically acclaimed, Rubio’s signature aesthetic technique of elongating the necks of figures from the Philippine colonial period has made him a sought-after artist and a staple of international auction houses. A graduate of the Fine Arts program of the University of Santo Tomas, Rubio is one of the most celebrated visual artists today—with no less than art critic Cid Reyes to comment: “Arresting is the punctilious application of pigment and the delineation of the figures…technically adept, Rubio displays impressive workmanship.”
In Rubio’s practice, the nostalgia is brought forth in his treatment of the subjects and the colonial contexts he places them in. Rubio’s consideration of the theme is in the tinges he brings in his details. A brilliant character painter, his subjects are of a historical leaning and therefore wear the details of their historical time-period—costumes, equipment, and hawker-stands all conform to an idyllic reimagining of the past.
Michael Cacnio is perhaps one the foremost sculptors in the country today. Having had over 50 sold-out solo exhibitions in the US, Europe, and Asia, Cacnio’s candid depictions of tableaux scenes of Philippine genre has been noted by critics as representing the best of genre in sculptural form. The artist has achieved a fair measure of awards in his 26 years of sculpture, including the 2006 Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM). A product of the College of Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines, Michael Cacnio is also the first – and so far only –Filipino artist to exhibit at the Berlaymont in Brussels. The appeal of Cacnio is in his ability to skilfully capture the Filipino way of life.
Cacnio is highly sought-after for his genre sculptures of brass and glass. The artist takes a wistful image of bygone time and asks his audience to reminisce about the idyllic life of the rural past. His work is stunning, with figurations in poses that capture both motion and fluidity.