*Part of the proceeds of this painting will go to the following charitable institutions:
1. Leaven of the Immaculate Heart of Mary;
2. Oblate Apostle of the Two Hearts;
3. Alliance of the Holy Family International

Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist


In Vicente Manansala's "Pounding Rice" (1973) the modern master reprises an iconic theme that appeared in the prize-winning entry that first brought him critical attention. Painted in 1941, his earliest “Pounding Rice” would win him top prize, in the Filipiniana category, of the First National Art Competition & Exhibition, organized by the venerable University of Santo Tomas (the oldest university in Asia), in the taut summer months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of World War II. The board of judges included cultural leaders such as the famous architect Juan Arellano (designer of many Manila art-deco landmarks such as The Metropolitan Theater), Andres Luna de San Pedro (the only son of Juan Luna and also an architect), Victorio C. Edades, then Director of the College of Architecture and Fine Arts at the University of Sto. Tomas, and interestingly, Fernando Amorsolo, then Dean of Fine Arts of rival institution, the University of the Philippines, considered the bastion of conservative realism. (Professor Galo Ocampo chaired the competition exhibition, which featured 93 pieces.) In the thirty years between the paintings’ creation, Manansala had deftly challenged the existing establishment defined by Amorsolo's sunlight-dappled, romantic country scenes. He applied cubist constructs, sparked by a sojourn in Paris where he met and was mentored by Fernand Leger as a scholar of the French government. Leger may have shared his new taste for "monumental figures" and a passion for the common man. And we see both expressed in the powerful narrative of the present ‘Pounding Rice’. Manansala's triumphs as an artist rest partly on his ability to bridge the old figurism with modern abstractions. He preferred to show off his mastery of drawing, keeping his human figures recognizable and therefore accessible, insisting in one interview, that draftsmanship was the most important element in painting. (The next most important, he once said humbly, was nothing more than "hard work”.) In 1973, this National Artist was at the height of his powers, venerated and sought after, He had become famous as the conjurer of the ‘transparent cubism.’ Captured in the work at hand is an ancient harvest ritual familiar throughout Asia, symbolizing good fortune as well as prosperity through the sweat from one’s brow. Pounding rice, after all, is both a difficult and delicate task, requiring strength to lift and lower a solid wooden pestle, with enough force to loosen the husks from the rice. Some say that it is also a metaphor for the hierarchical relationship of man and wife, defining his role as head of the family and hers, as helpmate. This particular work is, however, a paean to the family and its unity — with a father and mother leading their circle in a hard, communal task. Three women, daughters really, share in various tasks. One, dressed in a floral pink. steadies the tall mortar; a second arrives on the scene balancing a clay jar on her head; a child appears, ready to dash off to play. Grandmother, her hair tied in a bun, is bent over straw baskets, teasing out the precious grain. Husband and wife raise and lower their pestles in rhythmic counterpoint. They are both dressed in the tricolor of the Philippine flag, metaphors for Manansala’s passionate belief in a resurgent love of country, no matter the difficulties. Manansala would always keep the most pristine and inspiring Filipino values closest to his heart — and paintbrush. In the foreground are chickens pecking at errant rice-grains that fall to the ground. ‘Isang kahig, isang tuka’ is a Filipino metaphor for a hand-to-mouth existence yet. It also exemplifies the motto of ‘Waste Not, Want Not’. As this extraordinary work once belonged to one of Manila’s greatest merchant families, it has an even greater resonance.