Lot 1079
  • 1079

Vicente Silva Manansala

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 HKD
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  • Vicente Silva Manansala
  • Golden Harvest
  • Signed and dated 69
  • Oil on canvas


This work is in very good overall condition as viewed. There is very fine, faint hairline craquelure visible under close inspection, but this is consistent with the age of the painting. Examination under ultraviolet light reveals no sign of restoration. Framed.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

In the minds of many old-time lovers of art and advocates of culture, the name Vicente Manansala brings back fond memories of remarkable sessions at the artist’s studio-home out in Binangonan, more than thirty kilometres away from metro Manila. Admirers of the artist would come trickling in after lunch hour; and the afternoon would escalate to exhilarating discussions and exchanges of ideas and experiences among friends. Manansala was very generous with his time and his friendship as he would often gift his close friends with paintings that had a personal connection with them. The present Lot is such an example of a commissioned work that has been in private collection ever since.   

In 1981 Vicente Manansala was chosen as the National Artist of the Philippines to commemorate his lifetime dedication and distinguished contribution to the art and culture of his country. Belonged to the circle of artists known collectively as the Thirteen Moderns led by Victorio E. Edades, Manansala was instrumental in spearheading the modernist art movement that transformed pre-existing modes of representation and the ideologies behind picture-making. Shunning the romanticised imagery of the Philippine landscape and people as exemplified by the school of Fernando Amorsolo, each one of these artists painted with fresh new idioms and developed individual avant-garde styles. Their conscious departure from Western naturalism expanded previous artistic notions of the country, and their conviction to illustrate a richer and fuller Filipino identity was evident in the drastic shifting of both techniques and subject matters. Among the close peers of Manansala were artists such as Hernando Ruiz Ocampo, Cesar Legaspi and Carlos Francisco Botong, for they were drawn together by their total commitment to creating new forms of art that eventually, and inevitably, paved the road to modernism.

It was amid these aesthetic currents where Manansala thrived as an artist. With solid academic qualifications under his belt—the youngest in his class to graduate from the University of Philippines’ School of Fine Arts, followed by further training at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Canada, USA and France, where he had a brief stint at the Paris atelier of Fernand Leger—Manansala became a teacher at the University of Santo Tomas in 1958. He resigned from his post, however, when his occupation did not allow him to concentrate solely on painting. His early retirement brought about spurs of creative experimentations, most notably on Cubism as formulated by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, which he was liberally exposed to during his sojourns abroad. Creating works that are based on the post-war urban experience, the artist had fully developed a Cubist-inspired style that is distinctively Filipino in spirit by the late fifties. Unlike those Cubist masters who deconstructed multiple perspectives onto a flat visual plane suggesting vague remnants of the depicted subject only, Manansala remained loyal to the full figural description of his subject matters, which he sometimes reduced to slightly simpler geometric forms to further enhance their visual presence. “Manansala’s form-analysis went immediately into the flat assertion of planes generally associated with synthetic Cubism—Picasso’s early Cubist period—the analytic phase which reduced reality into simplified volumes was bypassed. Manansala’s concern was the structuring of planes—the compact interaction of surfaces whose depth was hinted at rather than defined.”1

As demonstrated by the present Lot entitled Golden Harvest, the panoramic landscape utilises the Renaissance linear perspective and the subject matter remains integral, as it is aesthetically figurative and beautiful. Depicting a harvesting scene, Manansala painted a family of fifteen across the canvas who are busy gathering crops, attending to their animals and preparing for a meal. The crops are represented by a pyramid of golden satchels which occupies the center of the visual field against a stunning backdrop of luxurious greenery and majestic mountains. Manansala’s fixation on colours is gloriously exhibited here, for he had liberally applied them to highlight certain sensations and textures of various elements on the painting. Building his composition with thin layers of paint, the overlapping geometric planes are given a light, translucent quality, which breaks up and reconstitutes the appearance of the painted subjects. Their internal and external features are masterfully superimposed by the pristine facets of colours which are harmoniously combined. Adding depth and vibrancy to the scene, the delicate layering of diaphanous planes acquires a sense of material density. Manansala had developed this technique known as ‘transparent cubism’ where the essential tones, shapes and patterns of figure and environment are faceted and superimposed. This is most evidently rendered on the focal point of this painting – the overflowing of golden harvest as a symbol of abundance and prosperity. The surrounding elements such as the ground, the hut and the clothing on the figures also enjoy a similar treatment.

Golden Harvest, dated 1969, is a grand representation of the artist’s signature style. The highly balanced composition lends monumentality to the subject matter, where the figures and landscape are arranged in perfect unity. The orchestration of modulated tonalities and shapes further suggests the play of light and therefore giving the painting a special multidimensional quality. Manansala’s sensitivity to colour and preoccupation with the human figure are reflected in his meticulous execution here, which testifies to his reputation as one of the most well-respected and talented artists of the Philippines.

1 Rodolfo Paras-Perez, Manansala, PLC Publications, Manila, The Philippines, 1980, p. 86