Lot 310
  • 310

Vicente Silva Manansala

500,000 - 700,000 HKD
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  • Vicente Silva Manansala
  • Fish Vendor
  • signed and dated 73
  • oil on canvas laid on plywood


Private Asian Collection


Rudolfo Paras-Perez, Manansala, PLC Publications, Manila, 1980, p. 116, colorplate


This work is in good overall condition as viewed. There is evidence of wear and losses on the edges if the work due to abrasions with the frame, but this does not affect the overall image, as they are covered by the frame itself. Examination under ultraviolet light reveals very tiny spots of restoration across the surface of the canvas, primarily on the lower parts of the right female figure and on the fishes in the upper and lower right quadrant, but this is only visible under ultraviolet light. 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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

As a member of the Thirteen Moderns and the neo-realists, Vicente Manansala was at the forefront of the modernist movement in the Philippines. It can be said that his illustrious career began from kite designs and charcoal sketches as a newsboy and bootblack before progressing through further education at the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts as well as the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Canada, America and France, culminating in a position as illustrator for the Philippines Herald and as a layout artist for Photonews and Saturday Evening News magazine. His works focused on the post-war urban experience in Manila, created using a distinctly Western aesthetic as a result of his training, but retaining a Filipino authenticity.

During his time in France, Vicente Manansala had a brief stint under Ferdinand Leger, a well-known French painter, filmmaker and sculptor. Ferdinand Leger was recognized as a frontrunner of pop art and a practitioner of figurative cubism, leading to Manansala himself developing the concept of transparent cubism. Transparent cubism involves scattered, superimposed facets that change in hue across each fragmentation, creating a collaged effect. As a result, Manansala’s paintings serve as a valuable insight to his artistic process as he distorts his subjects throughout the painting, translating emotional resonance into geometric planes.

In Fish Vendors, Manansala depicts two female vendors, almost identical in appearance, sitting by their wares. The unabashed use of transparent cubism creates a glazed effect as light is fragmented across the painting and creates distance between it and the viewer. Manansala’s use of a vibrant, folkish color palette consisting of mostly primary and secondary colors also keeps it grounded in its Filipino roots, maintaining a strong focus on the indigenous people and their occupations. The painting is an exceptional example of how Manansala translates figural forms into their geometrical basics, managing to preserve humanity in an amalgamation of shapes.

Beyond his technical innovation, Manansala’s subject matter spoke to a new imagery of urban folk. Drawing themes from his immediate surroundings, Manansala illuminated many otherwise overlooked aspects of life in Manila, such as cockfighting, family gatherings and native delicacies. In the present work, Manansala highlights a quiet moment in the day of two fish vendors, neither character engaging with the viewer directly, creating a sense of intimacy. His choice of attire further leads to an association between the two women, signaling themes of unity and labor within a marketplace. Vicente Manansala not only documents ordinary scenes, but seeks to emulate his people’s values, an aim not lost within Fish Vendors.

Fish Vendors is a piece of art that has been distinctly made by Vicente Manansala; it employs his renowned technique of transparent cubism and consists of subjects that are unmistakably from the heart of the Philippines. It is an extension of the accomplished artist himself: Filipino in spirit, tinged with Western influence, coexisting in a fresh, masterful way.