You can see Santiago Rubino's work on the hot, muggy streets of Miami or in an air-conditioned gallery. A native of Argentina, self-taught, he honed his craft under threat of arrest. He depicts melancholy waifs in attitudes stately and prim, their clothing often of the Renaissance era. Others are sultry, voluptuous, and sexual. All have raven hair coiffed in impossible geometric rigor. Anyone who has ever seen a Tim Burton film will notice the surrealist influence. It was Burton's dark dreamscapes that fueled Rubino's imagination, along with the works of Salvador Dali and, to some extent, H.R. Geiger, whose grotesquely beautiful horrors led to the design of the creature in the Alien movies. Another source of inspiration for Rubino: the highly stylized films of Quentin Tarantino, himself shaped by B movies.
NT: Which Tim Burton movies inspired you and how?
Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Nightmare Before Christmas, even the Batmans. I had never seen anything like it. Those are just inspirations. When I try to make art... I guess when I see it... Let me see how I can explain... The emotional impact, the way I see it in my mind... I see it as if it was another world.
Are there other films and directors in whose movies you see artistic merit?
Terror Planet. I'm sure its main inspiration was from B movies. It's supposed to be cheesy terror, horror, but it's almost funny at the same time.(Rubino turns on a clip of Tarantino's Terror Planet. It's the opening, where Rose McGowan's character is writhing on a pole in a strip club lit in all manner of gauche discothèque colors.)
Any crappy B movies from the '80s you recall?
Killer Klowns From Outer Space.
Could an artist draw any kind of inspiration from schlock like that?
Subliminally, yeah. When I'm drawing, a lot of ideas pop into my head. If I was going to draw something with ruffles, I'd think of the clowns.