The art of Dominic Rubio

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Monday, May 5, 2014


TO BE honest about it, at first glance, the art works of Dominic Rubio look weirdly strange: heads seemingly afloat from their bodies, connected together through an exaggeratedly long, thin tubes, which “pass” for a neck. But they are all so well done, the sight eventually becomes a vision, even endearing especially when the artist explains it as his concept of “taas noo ang Pilipino,” which is another way of saying holding one’s head high.

Rubio was born in Paete, Laguna. He related he was a lakwatsero and almost did not get to graduate from high school. What saved him was a Grolier encyclopedia art contest, which he entered on a whim. He landed in second place and the company gave him and his school a plaque. As he had given honor to the school, the school head did not dare not let him pass.

Armed with poor grades and his art award plaque, he was able to enroll at the University of Santo Tomas College of Fine Arts, majoring in commercial arts. He first worked with an advertising company, then with Davao Pearl Farm where he was exposed to the South’s indigenous tribes, their art in the jewelry they wore, in the cloths they wove, in their manner of dressing, their way of life. In Davao, he was the in-house interior designer, and tried his hand designing cottages.

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When he finally settled down to become a full-time artist, he was influenced by Damian Domingo “whose tipos del pais or types of the country had paved the way for the flourishing of visual arts in the country” during the Spanish era. Even today, that influence holds true.

His works evoke a feeling of nostalgia for the lifestyle which once was: women, children and men impeccably attired in clothes of a past era, the women mostly in elegant blouses and long dark skirts, a bun at the top of their heads. Whether his figures are set in market place, churchyard or street, there is a feeling of harmony which, the artist says, is what he wants to convey in his paintings.

In his meeting with the press, Rubio impressed one as humble and passionately Filipino, naming his children Maya, Mayumi and Araw. His exhibit in Cebu is the first time for him to be here but with the use of photographs of the place, he situated some of his figures in familiar Cebu landmarks like the Santo Niño Church, Calle Colon and Magallanes as they looked in an era past.

The exhibit, “La Familia Cebuana,” will run up to May 19 at the Qube Gallery along Ma. Luisa Rd. in Banilad.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 06, 2014.

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