ARTISTS go through phases, born out of inspiration. Yet, since the 1980s, artist Maria Victoria “Marivic” Rufino has painted what appears to be the same themes and compositions, with subtle deviations.
The subjects are impressions from her life experiences: rolling hills in the Italian landscape, Philippine beaches, the shifting colors of the sun and the sea, her passion for horses, celestial bodies and the performing arts.
“It’s a slow process of growth,” explains Rufino. “My recurring theme is about nature and its changes.”
Her 19th exhibit, “Luminescence,” which will run from today until Feb. 7 at The Gallery of Peninsula Manila, is no exception. It will feature her characteristic spontaneous undulating bands of cool tones of blue, green and lavender, all of which are chosen for their calming and harmonizing effects. “These are the colors of peace,” she maintains.
There are gradient strips of aqua, cobalt and ultramarine that echo her impression of the Baltic and Mediterranean seas. Some works portray beaches with glowing skies of warm colors or wisps of white clouds against an atmosphere of blue.
Rolling fields of sunflowers and cypress trees bring back memories of Europe. Rufino substitutes lavender for black to create shadows and depth.
Her works are atmospheric, allowing the viewer to be soothed by the frequencies of the muted colors on the canvas.
A perennial subject, the white horse, is either portrayed on the beach or against an abstract setting. The painter is drawn to this animal not only because of her equestrian hobby, but also for its symbol of higher consciousness.
Some canvases are graceful rows of pastel colors, which, from afar, turn into a gleaming veil. Moonscapes, sunsets and waves of subtle colors look repetitive. Still, out of the similarity emerges a different illusion.
On the oft-repeated subjects, Rufino explains: “I’m being true to myself. There are subtle changes here and there. You can’t duplicate anything with watercolor. I like to paint because it makes me peaceful. It’s not me to paint my angst. Even with angst, I’m able to transform the energy.”
The exhibit will include her soft art, paintings that will be rendered in dividers, fans, tote bags and other accessories.
Before Rufino launched her exhibit in 1987, she was already known in high society as a model and “It” girl.
Coming from a conservative real estate family, Rufino chose to rebel by studying painting and the arts. She took up English Literature and Theater Arts at Marymount College in New York in the early ’80s and appeared in an off-off Broadway play, “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” as the Queen Cobra.
When she returned to Manila, she worked at the Cultural Center of the Philippines as assistant marketing director and moonlighted with her own production company.
She then joined the Hotel InterContinental as banquet manager, handling special events, and would pinch-hit for TV hosts Jullie Yap Daza in “Tell the People” and Johnny Litton in “Oh No! It’s Johnny.”
After leaving the hotel industry, she and lawyer Katrina Legarda set up a consultancy which helped the entry of foreign banks. Rufino retired before her then husband Rafael Buenaventura was named Bangko Sentral Governor in 1999.
Since 2007, she has been active with the Philippine Red Cross and is now the vice chair of the Makati chapter. Most of her time is spent organizing forums on disaster preparedness, getting blood donations and other civic activities.
She also enjoys intellectual conversations at the gathering of Carmen Guerrero Nakpil Friends, who meet at Café Havana.
Rufino remains guarded about her personal life: “I’m an introvert by nature. I had to socialize because it was part of my work. Today I’m a happy senior. I’ve been through a lot. I don’t have to prove anything.”