signed 1979 (lower left)
20” x 20” (51 cm x 51 cm)
Provenance: Private Collection, Quezon City
Lao Lianben is that ascetic artist today who best helps us appreciate what is meant by “abstraction” in art. Abstraction is not only the liberation from objective representations of the real, but more importantly the passage from visible appearances to the invisible presences of the truly real. In this perspective, the visual artist simply paints, with pure delight, a pictorial text which evokes the realm of the spiritual.
What Lao creates in this rare 1979 work, Clouds, is a new space where the gaze of the viewer loses itself to engage in ceaseless dialogue with the enigmatic and harmonious tension between the visible and the invisible.
By serendipitous grace, the late eminent critic Leo Benesa seems to be describing this particular painting in the 1979 lead essay “Abstraction and Image in Lao and Albor” in his book What Is Philippine about Philippine Art? And Other Essays (posthumously published in 2000). He enthusiastically claims: “Part of the appeal in Lao’s abstract surfaces resides in the filigree-like texture in the wood which he works on with a sharp instrument like a carpenter and a carver. The contrast of deep spaces and decorative texture . . . make for very pleasing compositions.”