Romeo Tabuena (August 22, 1921—October 15, 2015) was part of a generation of Filipino painters of the diaspora. This was because of the hard road of independence from the United States—after the colonial period under the Spanish—in the 1940s, first, and then during the Second World War because of the invasion and control of Japan, which stopped the process until 1946, and finally, because of the dictatorial regimes established, for example, by Marcos and Aquino at the end of the Twentieth Century. Tabuena decided to settle in Mexico and in particular in San Miguel de Allende, from 1955 until his passing last year.
He was a many-faceted artist: he began his career influenced by Chinese painting, profiling his renowned work in water-colours of the Filipino landscape, of the nipa hut and carabaos, and he was part of the wave of Neorealism Filipino with artists such as Vicente Manansala, HR Ocampo, Cesar Legapi, Victor Oteyza, Anita Magsaysay and Nena Saguil.
But also given his studies in New York and France and the artistic trends in the Philippines, like so-called Filipino cubism, which Tabuena was into, he was ready to receive a solid influence from the Mexican School of Painting with David Alfaro Siqueiros as well as the badly-named Ruptura, in particular from Rufino Tamayo. As part of the 35 works shown, the influence of this last may be appreciated in Guitarras, 1954 (80 x 96.5 cm). From his cubist work this show highlights Mujer Cubista, 1954 (89 x 76.5 cm) and, as an unusual work, we also present his foray into abstractionism with Collage, 1966 (152 x 132 cm). Finally, the series of churches of San Miguel de Allende, shown in the final hall, represents one of his finest work, which demonstrate his fine brushwork and which embellish the land that saw him die.
Romeo Tabuena spoke about his own work:
Nature has always been and will always be my reference point. I have no idea of a particular place when I paint my surroundings. There are observable aspects in nature that challenge the eye of the painter. What am I painting when I represent a house, an animal, a market stall, a man with a guitar, a fruit vendo, a woman and child? I paint the Earth. I paint humanity. I paint life itself. I paint nature. As an artist, I seek to paint universals in my own way. To maintain a type of art where limits are unknown. There are no borders. There is only one record of an eternal universe that the soul of the painter develops.
Marco Barrera Bassols, curador