Provenance: Provenance: Private Collection, U.S.A.


During the 1960s, Romeo Tabuena produced several paintings featuring cocks and sabong (cockfighting) scenes considered familiar images part of the Filipino provincial life. In this particular 1960 work, a local sabungero wearing a country hat seems to float on the background, a notable element that marks Tabuena’s atmospheric works influenced by Oriental techniques. His signature delicate calligraphic brushstrokes, Eastern-inspired sense of space, and muted colors of brown and ochre hues also create a calming effect. The two-dimensional perspective and a quality of flatness at work in the piece shows the influence of Chinese vertical paintings in Tabuena’s style. Despite studying and living abroad throughout a majority of his artistic career, Tabuena did not disregard his Philippine roots, producing works of Filipino themes and subjects, from carabaos and stilt houses to the rural everyday people, rendered with a distinct style influenced by Cubism and, later on, Chinese vertical paintings. This sophisticated piece, all in all, showcases his brand of aesthetics in rendering the form of a local subject. His subjects display his modern treatment of reducing the form into its essence.