Held simultaneously with its PROPAGANDA exhibit, a special exhibition in honor of National Artist Benidicto Reyes Cabrera or most popularly known as BENCAB and his 50th year anniversary as an artist at the Lopez Museum and Library!
The grand unveiling of the exhibit which is at the library section of the museum was done yesterday afternoon graced by no other than the master of contemporary arts himself together with curator Dannie Alvarez and the people from Lopez Museum and Library and co-presented by the Bencab Art Foundation.
The exhibit is entitled “Frames of Reference” which in physics means any framework that is used for the observation of physical phenomena and the formulation of physical laws or conclusions, usually consisting of an observer, a coordinate system, and a clock assigning times at positions with respect to the coordinate system.
BenCab’s Frames of Reference exhibition offers us a glimpse into the artist’s life and art practice during the late 60’s onwards, while living abroad and his return to the Philippines for good during the mid 80’s.
It features 15 of his art books which has never before exhibited in any galleries. These small scrapbook-like compilations of collages, drawings and sketches interspersed with his handwriting; prominently shows his love for nostalgia, hand made paper and bookbinding. A diaristic presentation of his aesthetics, letters, mementos and other keepsakes also find their way into the pages.
When asked if he still do similar types of works up to this day, BenCab quipped, “Not anymore, the age of texting killed it.” I think what he’s trying to say is that, the digital age or social media with all its many ‘scrapbook-like’ apps and social sharing features like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram has made these types of activities a ‘near lost art.’ So, this is as rare as it gets from the master.
Somehow, during our tour, I remembered all my sketches and scrapbook collections – some of it are gone but I think some of it I kept and stored in one of my old bags. They’re all 20 or 30 years old by now and after seeing sir BenCab’s collections, I suddenly felt an urge to go find and look at my collections once again. To look at who I was two and three decades ago. And I guess, Frames of Reference exhibit of BenCab is in a way a look at not only at his life then but our lives during his time then.
Other hand-crafted books show the early studies and iterations of some of his most important series of works like Sabel, Larawan and Japanese Women (ukiyo-e). Also included in the special exhibition are early folios of prints he was a part of, along with other Filipino and foreign artists.
Lopez Museum and Library also has in the exhibit three works of BenCab from the museum’s own collection including the iconic Soldiers (Heroes of the Past IV), which was painted in 1998 during the centennial celebration of the Philippine independence.
Frames of Reference is part of the year-long celebration of BenCab’s 50 creative years which kicked off last February with the endowment of an assemblage of sculptures entitled Variations of Sabel, to the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, where he studied Fine Arts, and which bestowed on the artist an honorary doctorate in 2010. The artwork was created through a grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and is currently on view at the UP Theater lobby.
Last Month, BenCab Museum in Metro Baguio mounted an exhibition of varied works from the artist’s personal collection, entitled ‘BenCab, Up Close and Personal’.
Future activities includes:
- Sabel, Love and Passion a theater musical presentations inspired by BenCab’s works on Sabel will be held at The Theatre at Solaire on April 20th and a two-night regular run at the Music Museum in June
- BenCab Museum presents ‘Ode To The Flag’ a commemorative exhibition for the Philippine Independence Day featuring BenCab’s Philippine flag artworks on May 30 to August 2
- The Bulwagang Juan Luna, Main Gallery of the Cultural Center of the Philippines will be the venue of the National Artist’s prints in the show ‘Multiples‘, which opens on June 10 and will run until August 16, 2015. Freeway will present a fashion line dedicated to the National Artist during the exhibition’s opening cocktails.
- July brings in another art exhibition entitled ‘Pamilyang Pinoy‘ at the BenCab Museum which runs until August 2015.
- The Secret Fresh at the Ronac Art Center in Greenhills, San Juan, will launch its limited edition BenCab designer toy collectibles inspired by images of BenCab’s art this August.
- In September, the Samsung Digital Gallery at Yuchengco Museum will feature Augmented Realities: BenCab in Two Movements, showcasing the collaborative creations between BenCab and Polish choreographer Paulina Wycichowska. The exhibition will run until December 2015.
- In celebration of Museums and Galleries Month in October, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila will host the retrospective exhibit BenCab: The Filipino Artist, which will run from October 4 until January 2016.
- Ayala Museum shall be the venue for two important events for November: an exhibition entitled Portraits by BenCab which runs until January 2016; and the launch of the coffee-table book encapsulating the eight exhibitions for the year. The coffee-table book, entitled BenCab: The Filipino Artist, will be written by Dr. Patrick Flores and include essays from the each of the museum exhibition curators.
- In December 2015, the UP Vargas Museum will open BenCab Performs.
- Also in December, the National Museum will be the venue for Appropriated Souls, an exhibit of “Larawan” and “Sabel” paintings. Both exhibitions will run until February 2016.
- An Artists and Collectors Nite at the National Museum in January 2016 will be the ceremonial closing event of the year-long celebration of BenCab 50 Creative Years.
Of all the exhibitions scheduled for the BenCab 50 Creative Years celebration, probably the most meaningful is ‘Frames of Reference‘ at the Lopez Museum and Library. Not only because of the ‘never-before-seen’ personal items that gives you a sense of intimate relationship with probably the most important artist of our time but also because, this is the final exhibition of Lopez Museum at the Benpres building which has been its home for more than 50 years already. The Museum will not close its doors for good but they will be moving to a new and larger venue.
The Lopez Museum and Library at Benpres officially opened with the works of BenCab and it is only fitting to close it with his works as well. And so, my visit at the Lopez Museum and Library yesterday not only gave me a chance to bear witness to BenCab’s life and works but to become part of the history of art in here in the Philippines as well.
One of the few moments in my life that I can proudly say – “RAIN WAS HERE!”
The Frames of Reference exhibit is also supported by technology partners Samsung Electronics Philippines Corporation, Digify, Sureste Properties and Gourmet Farms Inc.