National Artist Benedicto Cabrera (BenCab) On The Importance Of Staying Creative
Celebrated artist, Benedicto Cabrera (BenCab) is a national treasure. His work has put him—and his northern hometown of Baguio—on the map. Yet, despite the recognition, the 78-year-old artist remains pragmatic in his views on culture. When asked where he sees the future of Filipino art is headed, he replies nonchalantly: "Art is unpredictable and goes in different directions. I have no idea. I would rather live the present moment," he says.
His biggest hallmark, the mysterious Sabel, has been a consistent subject and theme in his works. She was inspired by a real-life scavenger BenCab had photographed and sketched in 1965. Since then, she's appeared in many forms in his work and has remained to be an unfailing muse in his creative exercises. Yet, BenCab admits that there is still much for him to learn about art and the current creative movement. "I learn a lot from [young artists] that I did not learn in art school," he remarks. "I continue to be interested in new techniques, collaborations with other artists, and other things that stimulate my creativity".
That being said, there is much that any artist—no matter the age or expertise—can learn from the Filipino art scene. "Philippine art is at par with the rest of the world. We are already recognised internationally. The many art fairs abroad gave a big boost in the promotion of our art. Hopefully, they continue to thrive after this pandemic is over," BenCab says. The most important thing to remember for now? In the words of the master himself, "Work hard on your art and do your best".