Cultural Center of the Philippines



1947 / Oil on canvas / 101.6 x 70 cm / Artist: Cesar Legaspi / Lucila Salazar collection

This painting won the first prize in the second annual competition of the Art Association of the Philippines in 1949. While the painting is in the representational mode, the style itself is not realistic. The figures are distorted, their limbs elongated and transformed into machine parts. The men seem to metamorphose into machines in the industrial process. The theme is the dehumanization of human beings. Natural flesh tones are given a blue-green metallic hue, signifying a shift from the organic to the inorganic. The rendering of the anatomy in the torsos and muscles of the workers makes them look more like gadgets or contraptions than people.

The artist prefers linear articulation of the torso and limbs, while tonal contrast is used to heighten the machinelike effect. The rhythms of the composition, as in the parallel outstretched arms of the two central figures mimicking the beams and girders, suggest the mechanical rhythms of industrial technology, while the clock at the left is a symbol of rigidly measured time. Apart from the theme of dehumanization, the painting can also be understood in the light of the disadvantaged factory worker who deserves just compensation for labor that produces a country’s wealth and who is entitled to humane treatment by an exploitative society.