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    Sale 2616

    Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art

    30 November 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 382

    BENCAB (b. The Philippines 1942)

    Midnight meeting

    Price Realised  


    BENCAB (b. The Philippines 1942)
    Midnight meeting
    signed and dated 'bencab 08' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    48 x 48 in. (122 x 122 cm.)

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    Bencab's soulful and skillful depiction of social issues is believed by many to be the foundation of his success. In creating art as social commentary, Bencab has painted a wide variety of subjects; his most famous one being sabel, the scavenging madwoman who wandered the streets of his childhood. The women and men of Filipino history have also been depicted in his works, particularly those who lived in, and fought against, the Spanish colonial occupation to the often displaced and somewhat disheartened 20th century Filipino migrants who dreamed of bigger and better opportunities in their adopted homelands. And finally, the theme of urbanization moved Bencab to paint the people of the Cordilleras, in the mountains of the northern Philippines. With sensitivity and sympathy, Bencab draws attention to their fight to balance an ancient culture with modern technology.

    "When Bencab found his subject in the Filipino, all his draftsmanly talents brought direction and coherence to his art, transforming it into an authentic vision, invoked by the artist's hand, heart and mind. From his canvases emerged the image of the Filipino - past and present - realized and idealized in an incandescent manner. The colour that Bencab abjured was compensated for by the colour he found in the character of his subject: a people with a gentle lifestyle, subjected to savage wars; a people forged in the smithy of geography, history, culture and religion. Heroic is the transformation of the lowly indio in the Filipino of today." (Krip Yuson and Cid Reyes. Bencab, Mantes Publishing, Inc., Manila, 2002, p. 260.)

    Midnight meeting, painted in 2008 is more of a synthesis of Bencab's protagonists rather than an obvious copied image of the past. Evidently one of them is the face of the Larawan series as she engaged the onlooker boldly with her intense gaze, but subtly the curves of both of their frocks are further highlighted with the deftly applied blue hue on the curves' surface, crudely outlining the subject, giving her the rhythmic force and movement of the hauntingly beautiful sabel. Perhaps the images of several female figures would always permeate the work of Bencab, it is her portrayal that we are able to explore exhaustively and more intimately than any other genre in the obsessions of Bencab. It is their solicitude and patience that sustained the artist in the face of an explosive age of technology and information and enabled him to continue to be inspired and productive. And lastly it is their vulnerability that gives a new intensity to the combination of crassness and tenderness that endowed Bencab's paintings of women with their pathos and their strength.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that medium should read: acrylic on canvas.

    Please note that estimate for this lot should read: HK$240,000-380,000 (US$30,800-48,700).