Lot #018

Carlo Gabuco

The Promise Land
signed and dated 2007 (lower right)
oil on canvas
60” x 72” (152 cm x 183 cm)
Starting Bid : Php 120,000
HP + BP : Php 140,160
Provenance Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner
Literature De La Paz, Christiane L., Private Collections, Artes De Las Filipinas, Quezon City, 2009, p. 247 (illustrated)
A photo-journalist documenting events that have had life-changing impact on the country (he was dispatched to Tacloban, Leyte to cover the horrendous aftermath of super-typhoon Yolanda), Carlo Gabuco, as a painter, reflects on the ills plaguing society, specifically abuse of power and blind faith. The latter is evident on The Promise Land, which is the artist’s interpretation of the idiom, “the blind leading the blind.”
In this photo-realistic work, an old woman slings an arm on a young man (possibly her son) for balance and guidance while carrying an indiscernible icon of a saint strewn with rosary on the other. The man holds out his hand in a gesture of begging, his ears plugged with earphones. With a piece of cloth swaddling their heads and covering their eyes, they seem immobile, unable to take a step, as both of them can’t see.
The Promise Land appears to comment on religious fanaticism, how belief becomes the cloth that binds people’s heads as they long for some comfort. Gabuco raises urgent questions: When the blind lead the blind, what will the world amount to? As viewers, how do we perceive their predicament, with revulsion or empathy? What if we ourselves are blind? The only way that the scales of the eyes to fall off, the artist seems to be saying, is to look closely at all that is human and not flinch.