In 1983, Cid Reyes asked Ang Kiukok: “Do you consciously change styles”Ang Kiukok replied: “No, I don’t know. I don’t’ think my style changes. It changed only when I came back from the United States.”
We all already know the life changing culture shock that happened to Ang Kiukok when he took a trip to the United States in the autumn of 1965 with Vicente Manansala, who was on a study and travel grant. Six weeks in Los Angeles plus a visit to the Los Angeles County Museum, plus a visit to New York where he saw Picasso’s Guernica. Then the rest, as they say was history.
The year 1971 starts a decade wherein Ang Kiukok bears into fruition his distinct style fused with influences from cubism, surrealism and expressionism, wherein he favored such subjects as fighting cocks, rabid dogs, and people enraptured by rage or bound in chains and other agitated agonies, Ang Kiukok painted this placid and serene still life. The placidity is imposed by his use of geometric black areas. The less expressionist and more formalist aspect of his art is seen in this spread out table “still-life” wherein the subjects are left to the imagination.
The warm hues of red and orange that are to pervade his future works do not dominate in this work that is notable for austere yet strongly contrasting achromatic tones. Yet, is ‘primitive’ in its intensity and sets this painting apart from his other still-lifes. Yet, what could not be doubted is the subtle presence of the angry sensibilities that are to come in his other “figurative expressionist” works.
The effect is disquieting, and yet, compositionally, all is of one piece, each “object” supportive of the other in precarious balance; the loud crash of things falling off the edge is not about to happen.