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Inside the luminous world of Teo Cacnio’s art

By Tanya Lara Published Dec 01, 2023 2:00 pm

Teo Cacnio grew up with art literally surrounding him since birth. A third-generation scion from a family of artists, Teo held his first exhibition of 20 aluminum sculptures and wall pieces at the Leon Gallery International, where all of them sold out even before the exhibit opened.

Called “TeO,” the works in his first solo show are about his experiences as an artist. 

The 20-year-old says, “First, my experience as an art student and second as a person who sees the world in a very different kind of way. I like things that are fast, dynamic, challenging. I feel that if I just offered my art and people understood it 100%, it kills the curiosity, the excitement. I want people to question my art, to engage in conversations about it.”

Teo always knew he wanted to be an artist but only started taking it seriously three years ago, at 17 years old, when he decided to pursue art at the UP College of Fine Arts. When he was a kid, he was drawing a lot and reading art books. He was also observing his father, renowned sculptor Michael Cacnio, at work in their home.

“My dad taught me the fundamentals of what makes a good sculpture, what makes for good art, what people consider art or not. But I wanted to experiment more, to branch out. Each work in this exhibit was meticulously planned. I created multiple studies until I was satisfied with the overall form, the overall shape of the piece. Once that was done, I rendered it to sculpture.” 

The Cacnio family (L-R) Jacob, Teo, Tess, and Michael Cacnio with Miss Universe Philippines 2021 Bea Gomez (2nd from left) and Miss Charm Philippines 2023 Krishna Gravides (3rd from right).

In addition to what he was learning at UP, Teo was absorbing everything about art that he could lay his hands on. From the Renaissance period to Baroque, he studied the old masters. But his biggest influence comes from modern art, the sculptor Henry Moore, known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures. “I had Henry Moore’s book when I was younger, where he talked about his theory on how he perceived art.”

Brothers Teo and Jacob Cacnio have always inspired each other to advocate for their dreams and pursue their own passions

The piece of aluminum sculpture “Wonder,” for instance, cannot be described in any sort of shape at first glance. Teo says he experimented on this piece for a very long time. “I was very inspired by Henry Moore in his theory of not representing nature but expressing it. There is that universal subconscious thought to it. For example, I wanted to create a kneeling figure—how could I create it without it being 100% a kneeling figure? I wanted a shape that looked like that but at the same time to make it liquid.” 

Renowned glass sculptor Ramon Orlina showed support to the father-and-son artists Michael and Teo Cacnio at the latter’s first solo exhibit

Metal, he says, is a hard material, and he wanted to challenge that. “That’s like magic to me,” he says. 

“When you’re buying art, you’re buying a fragment of the artist’s life,” he says. “Nowadays people think about art as decoration, something to beautify their house; they don’t really stop to think what it's about. There really is no right or wrong way in creating or buying art, but I want people to realize that a piece of art is someone’s time, energy, and knowledge. All embedded in a single work. I want people to see the value in that.”

Teo’s special guests include Miss Universe Philippines 2021 Bea Gomez, Miss Charm Philippines 2023 Krishna Gravides, and PLDT Home ambassador and TV personality Roxanne Montealegre-Luz
An artist of the digital age

Teo’s family has been PLDT Home Fiber subscribers for more than a decade already. Actually, they are among the first subscribers of PLDT Home Fiber in the Philippines. 

The Cacnios are a family of renowned artists—master and multi-awarded visual artist Angel Cacnio, sculptor Michael Cacnio, and now a promising young artist of this generation, Teo Cacnio. Through the years, the talents, traditions, and the most meaningful connections were passed on every generation of the Cacnio family. 

Now Teo is a perfect blend of his predecessors, embracing the internet and digital resources to create traditional art forms like sculpture. In some cases, he merged both his digital art creation and physical materials. 

As one of the youngest sculptors in the art scene, Teo grew up integrating technology in his art. “I believe that artists have to adapt to new ways of art making. There’s AI, there’s 3D printing, there’s an infinite number of ways to create art. So how can we use technology to push artistic integrity?”

Teo creates large wall pieces as well. His “Journey through Edsa,” an ink and bronze on canvas, illustrates how his approach is both technological and traditional. 

Teo created the background on his computer—half representational, half abstract—composed of hands everywhere that you only see when you stare at the work. Then you realize there are figures as well. 

After Teo rendered the background and printed it on canvas, he put metal on top of it. “I poured metal on the floor, and then nilatag ko lahat.” 

Of the 20 art pieces in his show, seven were wall pieces—six of them ink and metal, and one acrylic and mixed media.

“I don’t want to be known for a specific medium or style. I want people to know me for how I approach art,” he says. “I will probably branch out to more mediums, not just sculpture. I want to experiment more in very contemporary mediums of art such as performance, dance, music.”

Armed with the strong love and support from his family, Teo continues to soar higher and we can’t wait to see where he takes his art next. 

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Teo Cacnio’s first exhibit, “TeO,” was powered by PLDT Home. 


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