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ROMEO TABUENA (Filipino, 1921-2015)
ROMEO TABUENA (Filipino, 1921-2015)

Blue Village

ROMEO TABUENA (Filipino, 1921-2015)
Blue Village
signed and dated 'TABUENA 1956' (lower right)
oil on wood
61 x 90 cm. (24 x 35 3/8 in.)
Painted in 1958
Private Collection, Mexico

Brought to you by

Eric Chang
Eric Chang

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Lot Essay

The Philippines in particular has had a very strong tradition of Cubism-influenced modernist painting that flourished in the mid-20th century. The top proponents of the style include Vicente Manansala and Anita Magsaysay-Ho who can also be considered as the forefront pioneers of modernism in Philippine art. The next generation of artists who sought to continue and further develop their legacy came into prominence in the 1960s and 1970s with artists such as Ang Kiu Kok, Jose Joya, Arturo Luz, Federico Aguilar Alcuaz and Romeo Tabuena among others playing an important role in the development of the modernist visual aesthetic as we know it today.

The lively cubist compositions of Romeo Tabuena effectively capture the warmth and exuberance of Filipino culture from his jewel-toned palette to his ability to depict scenes and subjects that convey a wistful nostalgia for a rustic past. Still Life with Baskets (Lot 482) delights with an expert representation of light refracting in prismatic hues off an everyday arrangement of traditional woven baskets, using his unique perspective to transform even the most ordinary of subjects.

Three Cacti (Lot 483) is a comparatively starker work, with the use of black lines and angular forms to represent the essential qualities of the desert plant. The tight perspective of the cacti draws our at tent ion to the textural features and surfaces of the unique plant. With a subtle variation of brown and yellow shades, Tabuena creates depth in the composition and achieves in conveying the arid desert landscape through a close study of the cacti.

The atmospheric Blue Village (Lot 484) is one of the artist's iconic depictions of local landscapes such as farms, carabao, and nipa huts. As if it were shrouded in a lifting mist, Tabuena casts the scene in moody hues of blue and purple. Blue Village is an earlier work that shows the artist experimenting with a kind of semi-abstraction that prefigured his eventual foray into his distinctive modern cubism.

Tabuena would continue to be a prolific artist even into his elderly years, and his art is a testament of his unceasing dedication and artistic fervor for depicting and representing the cultural essence of the Philippines.

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