Vicente Manansala is widely recognized for his cubist approach within the modernist movement in Philippine art. as a young art student, Manansala adopted the vocabulary of genre scenes made popular by Fernando Amorsolo, painting rice fields and beautiful peasant girls. However Manansala soon discovered that bucolic village images were less important to him than artistic texture and the interplay of colours and structure.
Manansala only retained realism in straightforward portraiture; his other works were soon to bear the hallmarks of Picasso, Braque, Gris, and Léger. In 1950, he was awarded a bursary by the French legation and spent some time at Léger's atelier, learning from the master himself. eventually he abandoned their influences for most part and devoted himself to developing his own cubist methodologies which permitted the flexibility and freedom to articulate a truly Filipino context . He gradually moved into exploring how geometric shapes could cohere to develop a recognizable image, maintaining more expressionistic integrity than rendered by a purely realistic technique. In his own words, Manansala affirmed: "When I say I am a cubist, I mean that I have taken Cubism's basic elements, reorganized them and added my own, creating my own style."
Candle Vendor (Lot 537) is a highly formalist study of one of his favourite subject which he has rendered to different degree of realism. The figures of the candle vendors are fragmented into numerous multifaceted areas of paint, emphasizing in classic Cubist style, the plural viewpoints made possible through a binocular vision. Manansala attempts to work with a limited range of contrasting colours for the different areas, pairing blue with black, red with pink and so on. The choice of colour palette is deliberate and judiciously done to achieve just the right balance and visual recognition of the fragmented forms.