• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2380

    Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art

    25 November 2007, Hong Kong

  • Lot 66

    BENCAB (b. The Philippines 1942)

    The lovers

    Price Realised  

    BENCAB (b. The Philippines 1942)
    The lovers
    signed and dated 'bencab 93' (lower right)
    acrylic on paper
    33 x 23 in. (84 x 58.5 cm.)


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    The present work was one of the major works of the thematic exhibition Lovers held at Galleria Duemilla, Manila in 1994. It was reported that "The solo show, Bencab's thirty-sixth since 1966 and which features 20 pieces in acrylic, charcoal, and watercolour pencil all on handmade paper, focuses on the artist's enviable ability to exploit his faculty of observation in order to magnify how he can come up with variations on a particular theme, such that each one may stand sovereign from the other." (Ruben D.F. Defeo, "The Lovers of Bencab" in Today, Manila 16 February 1994.) Indeed, by 1994 the artist has already created his monumental Larawan and the ever haunting sabel, both of which constituted a new and refreshing chapter in the artist's career.

    Bencab's Lovers echoes the resonance of portraitures and forms of human bodies in the oeuvres of the artist. The critic described the exhibition "The thematic show presents pictures of lovers in every conceivable demeanor - embracing, kissing, undressing, in foreplay before actual lovemaking, or simply being together - whether in a huddle or in silence - but certainly snug in each other's company the way lovers are." (Ibid) The sensual context allowed a multiple possibilities with the playing of forms and juxtapositions of bodies that release a synergy of sexuality and a spatial tension that intrigues and beholds the viewer. The critic has artfully described the works "The voluptuous brushstrokes, vivacious movements and hefty masses heave a powerful reservoir of energy. It is passion at its most elemental, quite obsessive in proportion, where forms are created out of sheer fascination for the sensuous." (Ibid).

    With the present work, the lovers are in standing pose and their physical contact is a mere touch in comparison to the other more intimate scenes Bencab has designed for this series. Nevertheless, the intimacy is implied in the complete comfort both protagonists displayed in their nudity with each other and the viewer is allowed a full view of the scene only with the modesty of the protagonists preserved with the shielding of the vital parts of the bodies with the strategic placement of the hands which seems truly spontaneous. No one sums up the series of Lovers more succinctly than Defeo "...he enjoys the license to play around with proportions where anatomy is concerned. In the almost acrobatic, nay, distorted, postures and gestures of his human forms, there is a feeling of defying natural laws, an attitude that can only spring from a savvy and sympathy for details." (Ibid).

    Provenance

    A certificate of authenticity from Galleria Duemila, Inc., dated May 2003 and signed by the artist, accompanies this painting.


    Exhibited

    Lovers, Galleria Duemila, Inc., Manila, Philippines, 15 February - 2 March 1994.