Openings - BenCab at STPI, Roberto Chabet at LASALLE

Filipino artist Benedicto Cabrera, better known as BenCab, has done an unprecedented second residency at Singapore Tyler Print Institute and produced new works, which are now on show in the STPI gallery. The works are beautiful, although thematically very much similar to what he had done 5 years ago during his first residency. There are beautiful “Sabels,” his now iconic representation of a vagrant bag lady whose memory still inspires him 40 years after he saw her. Her billowing plastic bags have long morphed into beautiful, dancing fabric that almost make her look like a Geisha or sort. There are also several works that would fall into his Larawan series, based on colonial photography of the Philippines, that the artist first started to collect when he was living in London in the 70s. Here again, the artist juxtaposes with representation of a beautiful half-naked native with a working Filipino of today. There are also works from his latest series inspired by the world of dance. The Sabels are still my hand-down favourite, I have to admit

Meanwhile, “To Be Continued” at LASALLE College of the Arts, is the first exhibition outside of the Philippines of the works of Roberto Chabet, arguably the most influential Filipino conceptual artist. The exhibit features the plywood paintings and installations of Chabet since 1984, including his ground breaking trilogy from the 1980s: “Russian Paintings,” “House Paintings,” and “Cargo and Decoy.”

“To Be Continued” will be followed in February by “Complete & Unabridged I,” also at LASALLE, which will showcase the works of more than 30 Filipino artists mentored and influenced by Chabet. The two events are part of 15 exhibits to be staged from 2011 to 2012 in commemoration of 50 years of Chabet’s practice as an artist, teacher and curator, which will include two shows in Hong Kong.

Roberto Chabet, Russian Paintings, 1984