Cover Benedicto Cabrera, 32 Variations on Sabel, 2008

Through the years, lovers of the arts have been captivated by his works, each of them unable to break free from the artist's compelling grasp

The Filipino art community has been blessed by the visions of National Artist Benedicto "Bencab" Reyes Cabrera. With his name etched in the Filipino art scene, aesthetes and critics alike await his next works with much enthusiasm.

In this article, Tatler lists some of the artist's most memorable pieces.

See also: 5 Things You Need to Know About BenCab

1. Crisis in Humanity

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Crisis in Humanity (Photo: Google Arts and Culture)
Above Crisis in Humanity (Photo: Google Arts and Culture)

The dictionary defines a humanitarian crisis as a "singular event or a series of events that are threatening in terms of health, safety, or well-being of a community or large group of people."

In Bencab's work, the phenomenon was used as a sublime statement against the era of resurgent fascism and brazen historical revisionism.

In 2017, the artist joined Karapatan: Artists Stand for Human Rights with the artwork in hand.

“As the exhibition had a human rights theme, I agreed to be part of an exhibition of large drawings that is currently on in the Vargas Museum. The title of my drawing is ‘Crisis in Humanity',” he explained.

2. Sabel

Sabel is arguably the most identifiable work of Bencab. Sabel was the name of a homeless vagrant who wandered the streets of Bambang where the artist used to stay. 

The muse captured the mind of the artist as her makeshift clothing (made out of throwaway plastic sheets) created different shapes while she moved around, scavenging for food.

Tatler Trivia: With a measure of 96" x 72" (244 cm x183 cm), Bencab's 2003 oil-on-canvas Sabel is one of the largest singular-figure pieces from the artist's Sabel series. In 2015, it was sold for a whopping PHP46.72 million during León Gallery's September auction.

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Bencab's 'Sabel'
Above Bencab's 'Sabel'

3. Edo Gesture

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Edo Gesture (Photo: Mutual Art)
Above Edo Gesture (Photo: Mutual Art)

For the Edo Gesture, Bencab drew inspiration from the ukiyo-e the portmanteau of two Japanese characters Uki (to float) and Yo (world). For the artist, this refers to the impermanence of all living things on earth. 

Related: National Artist Benedicto Cabrera (BenCab) On The Importance Of Staying Creative

4. Portrait of Caroline

The Portrait of Caroline is Bencab's homage to his wife, British journalist, Caroline Kennedy.

The couple met in Manila in 1986 and married in London in 1969. Together, they had three children. The eldest, Elisar, was born in 1971. The middle child, Mayumi, was born in 1973, while the youngest Jasmine, in 1977.

More from Tatler: Mad or Genius? 7 of Juan Luna's Most Intriguing Works and Their Meaning

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Bencab's Portrait of Caroline (Photo: MutualArt)
Above Bencab's Portrait of Caroline (Photo: MutualArt)

5. Yellow Confetti

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Bencab's Yellow Confetti (Photo: Christie's)
Above Bencab's Yellow Confetti (Photo: Christie's)

Bencab's Yellow Confetti is one of the most controversial Filipino paintings in modern times. It was created early- to mid-1980s to describe the civil resistance in the Philippines during the EDSA People Power Uprising.

Yellow Confetti perfectly pictured how the proletariats thronged the metro and raised their fists as a sign of resistance. 

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