Monday, February 20, 2017

Philippine National Artist BenCab reveals his fascination with Chinese tai chi

BenCab presents "Studies of Dance Movements" at his Baguio museum.

By Nancy T. Lu                                                                
Yuan xiao jie (February 11 this year) or what the Chinese people know traditionally as the first full moon after the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival saw National Artist Benedicto Cabrera, better known as BenCab, bring out his calligraphy-like ink sketches of a female performer in a dance celebration at the BenCab Museum in Baguio. As in the aesthetics of Chinese calligraphy, his strokes suggesting cursive script influence went bold sometimes but turned softly flowing just as quickly.


An initial sweeping panoramic look at his 26 works hanging at the Print Gallery of the BenCab Museum resulted in the unmistakable impression of a gracefully evolving tai chi  performance.





BenCab confessed to his fascination with tai chi or the art of pushing hands since his London days. He had the occasion to demonstrate his knowledge of slow-moving tai chi routines and exercises (said to promote good health and longevity) before Polish choreographer Paulina Wycichowska, who then interpreted what she saw in a collaborative effort using dance techniques.
BenCab swiftly went to work with his brush and ink to draw and create with artistic flair 40 different images on rice paper. 


The museum gallery selected for the exhibit titled “Studies of Dance Movements” could only accommodate 26 of the sketches produced during the beautiful encounter of the two artists from different realms.

“Take 5 on Aquarelle” featuring watercolor paintings by five artists of different generations also opened on February 11 at the Gallery Indigo of the BenCab Museum. Alfredo Roces, the oldest at age 85, led the group and he was followed by BenCab, who will turn 75 this coming April. Elmer Borlongan, Kelly Ramos and Abi Dionisio, the youngest at 27, completed the lineup.

BenCab’s take on the challenging watercolor art medium included his depiction of the most handsome rooster with white feathers from the poultry yard in his sprawling estate as the regal and reigning Chinese zodiac animal of the 2017 Lunar New Year. Uneasy, he said, was the process of leaving unpainted the spaces that called for the white color. BenCab expressed his intention to paint all the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. He has finished only four so far.

As in all exhibits of BenCab, icon Sabel must find a niche. Two watercolors put on view were of his famous bag lady with her robe flying and swirling around her.

Both exhibitions at the BenCab Museum will run until April 7.


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