Baguio City, Philippines – Renowned indigenous artist Jef Cablog hails from Barlig, Mountain Province. In Barlig, the town’s natives are commonly of Ilocano and Igorot descent, an ethnic group whom Cablog identifies with. Equipped with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of the Philippines-Baguio, he began his visual arts career about two decades ago. His favorite subject: the Ob-ofok, or the oral tradition of his hometown, which has been vividly captured in his numerous multi-layered portraits and landscapes.
Cablog was recently named one of the “40 Portrait Masters” in 40 Contemporary Great Masters of Portrait Painting (The Definitive 2019 Book), published by the Editorial Staff of The Art of Watercolour magazine. The book showcases the art of 40 portrait artists from around the world. Cablog, whose works are featured under the book’s section: Towards Abstraction, is the only Filipino who made to the final list.
The publishers say: “…every portrait that is painted with feeling is, in fact, a self-portrait because choosing to portray a part of themselves. In this book, we have tried, above and beyond questions of style and different means of expression, to provide a snapshot of current artistic creation. By lifting the veil on an entire area of painting, our wish was to give an overview of the practice of portraiture in every size, shape, and color.
“Although their styles and objectives may differ, the artists we have selected all share a certain attachment to and deep respect for tradition, some opting to go against it and others to play with it.”
Appropriately so, Cablog’s art is a continuous homage to the traditions of his ancestors – labored with love, patience, and respect. In Barlig, where his ancestors built their own rice terraces, Cablog recalls the meticulous, painstaking process that took to assemble these natural wonders:
When I paint, I adopt the same virtue of patience in my work. I can only hope the impact of the rice terraces as a grand cultural monument would be the same impact I will make in art through my paintings.
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Photos: Jef Cablog