The Philippine cubism artistry portrays social relativism in the real sense of the word. Of course, who can ever forget the legacy and artistic contributions of Vicente Manansala? For those who might not know him that much, he is a notable Filipino cubist artist, painter and illustrator. He was born on January 22, 1910 in Macabebe, Pampanga, Philippines. He is the son of Perfecto Q. Manansala and Engracia Silva.

Vicente Silva Manansala.

Vicente Silva Manansala.

At an early age, he had learned about how difficult it was to survive each day. He worked as a newsboy and a bootblack in Intramuros, Manila. In addition, his creativity and lasting love for visual arts were developed by learning the ropes of designing kites and making charcoal sketches. During his teenage years, he studied about the basic principles of painting under the tutelage of another premiere Filipino cubist in the person of Ramon Peralta, while he was too preoccupied with his side job as a signboard artist;for a well-known painting shop in those years. He studied at the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts in 1926 and had successfully finished the said degree in 1930. After which, the legend of Philippine Cubism had decided to undertake further studies in relation to his craft as a budding visual arts artist. So, he immediately enrolled at the Ecole de Beau Arts which is located in Montreal Canada. When he went to France, Manansala had a short liaison with the great Ferdnand Leger.

Leger was a well-renowned French painter, filmmaker and sculptor. One of his early works was being the magnificent creator of a personalized form of cubism, which he slowly enhanced with a more figurative approach, alongside with a populist style. Historically, the world of international visual arts regarded him as a Pop Art’s forerunner. In effect, Vic Manansala became truly inspired to create famous artworks which will let him fashion a name of his own, in the future. Subsequently, he earned a decent source of income by working as an illustrator for the Philippine Herald and Liwayway. Likewise, he was accepted as a layout artist for Photo News and Saturday Evening News in the 1930’s. The internationally-acclaimed Filipino artist became a member of an alliance known as the Thirteen Moderns. As a result, he was always at the forefront of the said organization in the Philippines.

Throughout the entirety of his illustrious career, he constantly focused on figurative modes; notwithstanding a few exceptions on some delicate abstract subjects, Unlike Amorsolo, Manansala had given to Philippine Arts new and transcending dimensions. He had perfectly developed a one of a kind imagery based on postwar scenarios and urban experiences. For instance, Manila’s reflection on Manansala’s mind embodies a strong and unmoved national character of the Filipinos. Remarkably, he was able to paint an extraordinary Mother and Child subject. Aside from these worth remembering paintings of VSM, there were also The Slums, cockfighting, a simple Filipino family gathering before a simple meal and the likes. More so, he did other meaningful art jewels such as still life of native fruits, dried fish and vegetables, in the setting of a humble and clean kitchen with folk utensils such as a palayok and sandok. Overall, the cubism art forms of Manansala largely centered on geometric faceting as well as in the shifting of overlapping planes. However, his diverse artistic facets in relation to cubism are broader than that of the original cubism. It was due to the major reason that these paintings possess much larger rhythms.

From time to time, Vicente Manansala never failed to include the so-called linear decorative patterns which are distinctively represented in the inner works of gates’ curlicues and windows. Ever since, he had effectively mastered the styles of transparent cubism like no other. Thus, this brilliant and unique idea of his was generously shared among his fellow neo-realists like Cesar Legaspi and Romeo Tabuena. Conversely, he did not deviate from those figures which simplify their basic geometric shapes. In fact, he excellently went through the black and white phases of crucifixions, and a lot more. Holistically, he employed colors with unquestionable and shimmering folk vibrancies, evocative power and irresistible sensuous appeal. In terms of composition, he had highlighted featured lines of perspectives with receding spaces; although they are a bit shallow. But as far as their recessions in depths are concerned, they are simultaneously attributed with meanings by lines and planes which have spatial ambiguities.

Furthermore, his other paintings have other tremendous qualities like tapestry-like characteristics. Manansala had involved various objects in reference to domestic context. Hence, the entire visual fields of his artistic byproducts are not fragmented. But, they are left as integral. On the other hand, the bright elements of his prestigious artworks had ambiguous spaces. Evidently, these wonderful creations of his had shown the enormous influences of 17th century paintings. These have Dutch interiors with checkerboard motifs. Generally, he was able to have the most versatile reinterpretation of indigenized cubism because he was able to excellently draw his themes, from the familiarities of a typical Filipino environment. The significant visions of Manila according to the imaginary genius of this very endearing artist of Philippine Arts, have fully envisioned the social life of Filipinos in an urban context. Mauro Malang, one of his protégés can never forget his mentor insofar as his greatest influences are concerned. Some of these are the best loved folk romanticism themes. Descriptively, these paintings have fragile makeshift attributions.

One of Manansala’s most highly-acclaimed recognitions were as follows: First prize award for his work, Barong Barong, in the 1950’s at the Manila Grand Opera House Exhibitions, citations from the Art Association of the Philippines, which includes the third place award for the Banaklaot creation, second prize for the painting Kahig. Of all these achievements, the most precious one is the National Artist Award that was bestowed upon him in 1992. Indeed, Vicente Manansala is an iconic figure of cubism artistry that has the passion for sending across the most expressive message to the realms of genuine social justice and progress for his own native land.

Category: Interesting

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