Dominic Rubio’s big heads

Dominic Rubio’s big heads

“I have come to think that being looked at obsessively by people you don’t know actually changes the way your face and body are assembled — not just in the obvious ways of enhanced fashion sense or tricks of charm and self-possession, but in the illusion of size. The heads of world-class celebrities literally seem to enlarge,” wrote Tina Brown of meeting Diana, Princess of Wales, in her biography, The Diana Chronicles.

One might think that the wealthy figures depicted in Dominic Rubio’s “Ilustrados,” the inaugural exhibit of Galleria Nicolas at Greenbelt 5 may suffer from the same malady. While that exhibit ended on the same day we talked to Mr. Rubio on Jan. 16, Mr. Rubio has another exhibit that runs until Feb. 6 at BGC’s Galerie Joaquin. This is the final part of Mr. Rubio’s trilogy of major exhibits, beginning with a birthday exhibit last December.

Back to the big heads: Mr. Rubio is known for painting exquisite detail on figures with enlarged heads propped up by thin necks. A release says, “As noted by the late art historian Dr. Reuben Cañete, Rubio is a modern-day Damian Domingo with his depictions of various Filipino archetypes. His strength lies in his capability of making his audiences ‘see themselves’ through his works.” We pointed out to Mr. Rubio that we didn’t know anyone who looked like that, but with laughter, he said, “Iyan iyung execution ko sa aking nararamdaman. Iyan iyung idea ko (That’s my execution of my feelings. That’s my idea).”

He insists that there’s really nothing much to think about the big heads: “Minsan sila na nga ang nag-iisip ng interpretation eh (sometimes they are the ones who come up with an interpretation),” he said. Some of his wealthy Chinese patrons (he has painted political and business dynasties in his inimitable style) think that the faces looking straight ahead mean progress and keeping their heads up. “Ako naman, totoo, wala naman akong meaning diyan eh. Style ko iyon eh (For me, really, I don’t put meaning into it. That’s just my style),” he said. “Gumawa lang ako ng sariling style, sariling mundo, adjust-adjust, itotono ko lang kung okay na ang pakiramdam ko (I just made my own style, my own world, adjust it a bit, and tune it until I feel it’s okay).”

Mr. Rubio is a bit more excited discussing the tiny details in his work — embroidery on clothing, and miniature people and places standing behind his giant figures. “Meron akong main subject. Kung palalakihin mo lahat iyan, sabay-sabay silang lahat, magulong tingnan. Masakit sa mata (I have a main subject. If I make them all big, it will look like a mess. It will hurt the eyes),” he said. “Meron akong quiet space sa taas (I have a quiet space up on top),” he said, discussing the structure of his paintings. “Parang music. Biglang lalakas, biglang hihina. Orchestra (It’s like music. It suddenly swells, then softens. Orchestra).”

Mr. Rubio’s series, “Tipos del Pais,” is on show at Galerie Joaquin until Feb. 6 in BGC. — JL Garcia