I dedicate my first post about local art to Dominic Rubio. His paintings of colonial Philippines with a dash of whimsy are hugely popular among local and Asian art aficionados. Personally, I love his paintings simply because they’re cute. Oh, and also because I always thought I was born in the wrong generation; other than the 50s, I often feel I belong in the 1890s, right about when Rubio’s tableaux take place.
I got to catch his Heritage exhibit at the Art Center in Megamall last Sunday (first time there, check!) with my good friend Anabel. I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of people looking around the same time I did. I wondered what they enjoyed about Rubio’s paintings…
Could it be the fashion?
Could it be the families enjoying the sights of Manila we never got around to see ourselves?
Perhaps the reason why Rubio’s paintings resonate in us is because his subjects look so familiar. When you look at the subjects in his works, you can almost always pinpoint someone you know who looks like them.
You can easily imagine walking around and seeing faces like these
If this last bit is true, then the fact that we’re able to recognize ourselves in Rubio’s painted subjects means that a Filipino identity does exist. While many of us bemoan our lack of nationalism and a true identity, Rubio succeeds in making us realize that we have a distinctly Filipino look, character, and soul. It’s as if what Rubio actually painted was a mirror we Filipinos gleefully peer into and see — who else? — ourselves.