MICHAEL CACNIO: Creativity Illuminated

''I live and love in God's peculiar light.''- Michelangelo

At the break of dawn, amid the silence that accompanies the beginning of every day, celebrated artist Michael Cacnio bows his head in prayer. It is in this moment that he gathers the strength, patience and creativity that fuel his ability to make breathtaking three-dimensional images that reflect the goodness, beauty and perfection in the world.

''I want the people to see my art and be happy,'' says Cacnio.'' God created us to be happy, not to be sad and not to be lonely. My dad always said, 'You're the creator, you can make a life in your artwork, you control it. When you create something you give it life.' I want to create something positive, I don't want anything negative.''

In the hands of Michael Cacnio, everything is made beautiful. Raw material becomes an individual and irreplaceable work of art. He is a creator, in every sense of the word. He creates not only material representations of his imaginative mind, space acting as his infinite canvas, but also a mirror of our social reality, a mirror that filters negativity, choosing instead to reflect the intimate moments of joy, transcendental instances of peace andfleeting flashes of beauty.

His works, though static, allude to motion, continuity and depth. They are three-dimensional not only in form but also in spirit being akin to our very own reality. His works display exquisiteness in its craftsmanship that captures the little nuances of our physical world: a leaf blowing in the wind, the curve of a root, the string of a balloon, and the ripple of a skirt. On an intellectual level, his creations are representations of his world, with himself as a subject and character within his body of works that act as a biographical tale, divulging his intimate and treasured memories.

''Art has to be original,'' says Cacnio. And with his latest creations, the prolific and innovative artist has once again outdone himself, proving that despite his already stellar career, he is still hiding a few tricks up his sleeve. In his most recent exhibit, he unveils his very first collection of lighted works, a collection that is set to awe and stun his many admirers, as his adventurous combination of materials have always done.

His latest collection features beautiful brass sculptures incorporated with LED lights. ''This is the most difficult and challenging,'' says Cacnio, ''because it's a new dimension, it's a new level. Light creates a mood and a life in the sculpture. It was a long process. There was a period of trial and error and experimentation. That's why it took me almost three to four months to finish these sculptures.''

His exploration of light brings a new appreciation on the subject because of the atmosphere and depth that the shadows create.

In one work, ''Priest,'' there is a figure of a man giving his body in full offering to the Divine. On his chest is a bright cross that glows reminiscent of the quiet strength reserved for a man of the cloth. In his work ''Blown,'' we see an intricate tree, its roots desperately clutching a sturdy rock. A boy is holding on to its gnarled tree trunk to stop himself from being blown away as the leaves sway in the same direction, the tops of the delicate branches frosted with beautiful lights. In ''Meditation,'' we see a figure sitting cross-legged, hands together and head bowed. Emanating from cracks throughout his body is a calm, peaceful azure light, the shadows falling around him adding drama, making us intruders on this most private moment.

The work ethic of Michael Cacnio serves as a reminder that greatness is a combination of talent and discipline. The discipline that he has is not only confined to diligently putting himself to work in his studio every day, but also the discipline to constantly push himself to make his work better, as low maintenance and enjoyable for his viewers.

''First you have to study the availability of the materials, '' shares Cacnio. ''How you're going to complement the new material? At the same time, you look at the subject itself. It's not only that you create a light and you put it in the sculpture, you have to blend it with the subject matter so you make drawings, then you source out the material, then you keep experimenting.''

From the University of the Philippines, Cacnio obtained a degree in Painting under the tutelage of notable artists such as Dean Joya, Dean Abueva, and Dean Vinluan. However, as a Fine Arts student, his education required him to take up classes on three dimensional form, and he was surprised to find that working on sculptures gave him an energy that he did not experience in painting.

Thus, after graduating, he took up sculpting as well. He found his calling in sculptures, and his new direction also allowed him to forge a new path for himself away from the norm at the time, but also from his father's legacy.

As the son of painter Angel Cacnio, Michael had been exposed to arts as a young child. His early years were already spent helping his father paint his creations, solidifying his desire to become an artist. ''If there's anything you feel, and whatever you see happening in your environment, you portray it in the artworks. Kagandahan ng artwork, it's quiet but it carries a meaning that is frozen in time and during that time it gives awareness not only to the artist, but also to the viewer. My inspiration is what I see outside, and also what I see inside our house. With art, it's like you're going to the artist's world.''

However, a love for the arts and beauty is not the only, or even the most important, legacy that Michael's father has given him. His most treasured heritage is his faith.

An active minister in his church, Michael Cacnio is overflowing with the joyfulness reserved for a man of faith. His easy and positive attitude is reflected even in his works. And it is because of his faith that he has pledged to create what is good and beautiful, in homage to the One who has given him the talent.

''Faith gives me the energy to work. I have faith, with the help of God I can do this. Without Him I cannot do this. The secret of my energy is every morning I pray deeply, for another day, another hope, another blessing and another chance. If you have faith that you can do it, you can finish it in a nice way, in a happy way.''

In all his works, and amidst all his accomplishments, he never fails to thank God, creating works that further illuminate Divine glory. His positive disposition is his ever-present testimony. A testimony of a life lived for art, love and devotion

Michael Cacnio's latest works can be viewed at the exhibit, ''Lumina,'' with Ramon Orlina and Carlo Magno at Galleria Nicolas, Glorietta. ''Lumina'' runs until February 9, 2013.

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