The Artist's Archive

The Wall Street Journal‘s Alexandra Seno interviews Philippine artist Benedicto Cabrera who is also a devoted collector:

“With collecting you learn,” says the perpetually curious artist.

Named a National Artist by the Philippine government in 2006 — the highest recognition given to Filipinos who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts — Mr. Cabrera owns hundreds of archive-worthy antique materials on the Philippines, including maps and books and old photographs. Some have inspired his paintings, which are prized for their draftsmanship and reflections on Filipino identity. He also owns one of the largest collections of Northern Philippine tribal objects as well as hundreds of Filipino works of contemporary photography, painting and sculpture.

“I love looking at them,” says Mr. Cabrera. “I find inspiration in them.”

Why do you have a museum as part of your home?

I want to put some of my things in a proper setting. I was inspired by some artists in Bandung [Indonesia]. But I want to display other things aside from my own work for people to admire, so I have tribal art and contemporary art.

What attracts you aesthetically?

Skill: That is what is missing now. A lot modern art now is mostly conceptual. It is sloppy. I’m old school. I look for good composition…and I like artists who are innovative.

Name some young Filipino painters you like.

Roland Ventura is very skillful. He just draws so well. Some thought he made digital prints because his work is so fine. Elmer Borlongan paints from memory. He doesn’t base it on photographs, which a lot of artists do now. Even I do it sometimes. I also like Mark Justiniani.