First published on 13 Dec 2010. Updated on 16 Dec 2010.
When Ferdinand Cacnio became a full-time artist six years ago, it was as if destiny had taken control of his life. He was born into a family of artists – his father Angel is a popular old-school artist in the Philippines, his younger brother Michael a sculptor who has exhibited in Singapore – and remembers growing up surrounded by artworks and the colourful company of the Philippines' most famous contemporary artists. But his parents did not want him to pursue his muse. Instead, they wanted him to be a doctor. So he studied psychology and then civil engineering. Then, for the last 20 years, he ran a profitable graphic design company creating collaterals for a major pharmaceutical company. But at the grand old age of 45 he gave it all up and started creating sculptures. He has since held nine solo exhibitions.
Visual Diary, his first solo show in Singapore, showcases his skill in sculpting metal as he tackles two subjects close to his heart: dancers and shoes. Back in the '80s, Cacnio was a regular at Manila's top discos, eagerly welcomed by club owners as he was the life of the dance floor. He was fascinated with ballet, and the lithe bodies of its practitioners, and he would pick them up from their dance company in the evening so they could be his dance partners. His metal sculptures of ballerinas have been praised by art collectors for their form and fluidity (he prefers to use a single metal sheet so as not to interrupt the natural flow of the material). This, he says, comes from the fact that he himself was a dancer. As an artist, he says he will only paint or sculpt things that he has personally experienced. Another key work in his exhibit is a 3ft-high sculpture of Michael Jackson, which he created the day after the KIng of Pop passed away.
Cacnio is also fascinated with ladies' shoes – who isn't? – and has created as series of shoe sculptures for the exhibit. One of them is a high-cut boot with figures of little men standing on top of each other, forming a human pyramid. He believes that the only way to succeed is by stepping on other people – seriously. If you look closely, he points out, the figures are not in pain; they are willingly lifting the weight of their brothers.
Visual Diary runs through 23 Dec at Galerie Joaquin.