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Ben Cabrera: Wikis


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Benedicto Reyes Cabrera (Bencab) (born April 10, 1942 in Malabon district of in Manila, Philippines) is considered one of the best-selling Filipino artists of his generation, exhibiting across the world, from London to New York to Macau.


Early years

Born the youngest of nine children born to Democrito Cabrera and Isabel Reyes of Pampanga, at a young age Cabrera and his older brother Salvador formed a strong bond in their exploration of the arts. It is to Salvador, who was already an established artist when he was very young, to whom Cabrera owes his first exposure and discovery of the arts.

Cabrera’s skillful depiction of social issues - especially those most relevant to Filipinos, is believed by many to be the foundation of his success. He has painted a wide variety of subjects - from Sabel, the scavenging madwoman who roamed the streets of his childhood to the women and men of Filipino history, particularly those who lived through the Spanish occupation; to displaced 20th century Filipino migrants; to the people of the Cordilleras and their struggle to balance their ancient culture with modern technology.

During and after his stint at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts, Cabrera explored photography, draftsmanship, and printmaking, all the while continuing to hone his craft as a painter.


In 1966, Cabrera met British writer Caroline Kennedy, whom he eventually married in London in 1969. He decided to relocate his life to London, and Caroline and he had three children - Elisar (born in 1971), a filmmaker based in London; Mayumi (born in 1973), a model, actress and artist currently living in Los Angeles; and Jasmine (born in 1977), a fashion stylist working in London and Costa Rica. Although his first years as a painter in London were not particularly easy, his talents were immediately recognized and he went on to enjoy a successful career in Europe.

In 1972, Cabrera returning to the Philippines for two years and was hailed as a pioneer of the arts and a significant influence among his peers.

In 1974, he returned to London in part to escape the grip of Ferdinand Marcos' Martial Law, which marked the beginning of his passionate involvement with social issues and the topics of repression and freedom.

Return to Philippines

In 1986, after more than a decade of international success, Cabrera returned home in time for the People Power Revolution. When Marcos's fled in disgrace, their residence, Malacañang Palace, was stormed by the local populace including Cabrera who, along with many reporters, documented with his camera the excesses of the Marcos family, including Imelda Marcos' infamous collection of thousands of shoes. He chose to settle in the mountain city of Baguio, with its cool climate and inspiring views.


In 1987, he settled in Baguio where he joined a small group of established artists - Santi Bose, Kidlat Tahimik and others, in establishing the Baguio Arts Guild (BAG). It was there he discovered the beauty of handmade paper as a medium.

However, in 1990 an earthquake left the city in shambles. In an effort to contribute to the healing and rebuilding process, Cabrera joined other members of the BAG in instituting programs such as ArtAid (a workshop for traumatized children) and Artquake (a fund-raising art auction). In 1991, he was elected president of the guild.

One of Cabrera's greater personal achievements was his contribution to the conceptualization and building of Tam-awan Village. The Village is a living archive of indigenous Ifugao culture and tradition, a refuge for local artists desiring a nurturing environment in which to develop their talents, and a community for all those who wish to take part in the harmonious fusion of art, culture, environment, and history.

Order of National Artist

In 2006, he was conferred the Order of National Artist for Visual Arts by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Malacañang Palace.

Although he is now in his 60s, Cabrera's creative virtuosity has not waned. When in Baguio, he can usually be found at Tam-awan Village, working in his studio in the same neighborhood, or relaxing on his secluded farm on Asin Road.

External links

Bencab Museum * [1]

Timeline * [2]

Artnet * [3]

Askart * [4]

Ben Cabrera Speaks * [5]

Tam-awan Village * [6]



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