VENDORS by Michael Cacnio & Dominic Rubio

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Market vendors are a staple in Philippine genre art. Throughout the development of Philippine Modernism, the idyllic theme of vendors selling their wares has been subject to various forms of aesthetic distortion and abstraction to fit the temperament of the artist—the intention being to bring personal expression and emotion to a familiar motif. For Dominic Rubio and Michael Cacnio, the outlook is one of nostalgia—and a partnership between these two – among the hottest artists in the scene today - to tackle such a familiar conceptual approach is an exciting prospect.

The latest exhibition at Galerie Stephanie in Libis invites the two artists to re-examine this Modernist standby and bring their own individual visions to the vendor theme. Aptly titled “Vendors,” the exhibition opens at Galerie Stephanie on October 1 and features new works that hew closely to the subject of rural merchants.

Galerie Galerie Stephanie is located at Unit 1B Parc Plaza Building, 183 E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue (C-5), Libis, Quezon City. They may be reached through their landline at (632) 709-1488.

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.”

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.

Thus these two artists are already well-familiar with the nuances involved in a classic Philippine motif. Their contribution to its development lies in imbuing their works with an inimitable sense of nostalgia. 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. Consider “News Vendor” and one sees the immaculate details of the costumes of the subjects—the boy selling the newspaper (the vendor) and his customer. Against the backdrop of bahay-na-bato colonial architecture, it is quintessentially Filipino, yet – due to the elongated necks – unmistakably Dominic Rubio.

Michael Cacnio takes a similar approach to his sculptural practice. Highly sought-after for his genre sculptures of brass and glass, Cacnio takes a wistful image of bygone time and asks his audience to reminisce about the idyllic life of the rural past. His work is often stunning, with figurations in poses that capture both motion and fluidity. “Bird Vendor” for instance is a snap-shot of a vendor in midwalk, no doubt selling the birds he carries on his shoulder. This is the very essence of genre—a scene from everyday life that reveals the nature of its subjects. And Cacnio encapsulates it completely.

An exceptional show the presents new works by the two established artists, “Vendors” manages to condense an important aesthetic approach and theme and mold them into the visions of two Masters. It is definitely a show that should not be missed.

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