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BEN CABRERA (Filipino, b, 1942).


Artist Ben Cabrera was born in Malabon, Philippines on April 10, 1942, the youngest of nine children. He was first exposed to the artist by his older brother Salvador. He learned to draw by copying American comics, and at the age of 12 won a 100 peso prize in a human rights poster competition.

As a student at the University of the Philippines Cabrera majored in illustration. Working with Professor Jose Joya he helped design and execute stage sets. After also exploring photography, printmaking and painting, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in 1963.

Cabrera met his wife — a British writer named Caroline Kennedy — in Manila in 1966, and married her in 1969. They had 3 children together: Elisar, Mayumi, and Jasmine. In London Cabrera had his first exhibition which was a commercial success, with paintings selling to notables including actress Glenda Jackson and director John Slessinger.

Cabrera briefly returned to the Philippines in 1972, but returned to London in reaction to the introduction of Martial Law. In response to the political abuses of the Marcos era, Cabrera’s art increasingly dealt with social and political commentary.

After a divorce in 1985 Cabrera returned to the Philippines and established his studio on a small farm in the town to Tuba, Benguet. Working alongside a community of artists, he began to explore the medium of handmade paper. In the past two decades he has been active exhibiting in Europe and Asia, and is the subject of a book published in 2002 “BenCab.”

In 2006 Cabrera was honored by the Philippines as a National Artist for the visual arts.

The BenCab Art Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports activities related to art and the environment, is located 15 minutes from the Baguio City center, and features a museum that is open to the public.

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