Cultural Center of the Philippines
Belonging to the second generation of Neo-Realists, which includes Mauro Malang Santos, Norma Belleza, and Mario Parial, Antonio paints Philippine genre scenes depicting mostly acquiescent women performing their domestic, maternal, industrial, agricultural, and entrepreneurial chores. Close examination of his work reveals that the choice of subject is conveniently incidental as feelings and emotions of the subject are not his concern. Rather, his artistic intent is purely pictorial and decorative.
Although influenced by Vicente Manansala’s transparent cubism, Antonio’s works, as exemplified by Antipolo, manifest a distinct style based on the juxtaposition of shapes defined with linear clarity, and pure lines that blur into washed-out tones. The canvas is diagonally divided into three, focusing on the food vendor at left, toys and fiesta ware at center, and a breastfeeding madonna at right. Stylistic distortion is most pronounced in the illogical positioning of the mother’s legs and the rendering of her hands beyond normal realistic proportion. The human figures are merged with the objects and the setting. Note that the rod of hanging suman (rice cake) is superimposed on the vendor’s shoulders.
Although the women frown, the total atmosphere conveyed by the picture is one of festive delight. This is brought about by the polychromatic scheme dominated by brightest yellow. The charming objects, such as papier-mâché dolls, native delicacies, colored candles, toys, candies, and a sleeping cat add to the vibrant festive mood of the painting.
Written by Imelda Cajipe-Endaya (1994)