Cliché says “Home is where the heart is.” For Miguel “Mike” Kairuz, it’s true. Years brought him to different places that shaped him as an artist, but at the heart of his work is his Filipino-Lebanese roots.
Born to a Filipino mother and a Lebanese father, Mike was discouraged from pursuing art as his mother couldn’t foresee his artistic future. Later on, he decided to learn painting on his own then found a mentor in Larry Tronco, one of the Philippines’ celebrated painters in the 21st century. (Read: Remembering Ben-Hur Villanueva: A Great Sculptor, Painter, and Educator)
Mike shares with My Pope Philippines his journey to pursuing his passion for the arts and how his family and culture fuel him to keep going.
Pursuing His Passion
Mike spent years in California, where he honed his artistic skills. He experimented with styles and observed other artists. As if he was making up for the lost years, Mike also claimed that his years in the US made him a better artist.
“I was already into arts before I went to the States. I just stopped, no more urge to paint, then there came a time that I went to a gallery in LA which showed artworks done by rock musicians…Bang! Rock ‘n Roll…the urge came back, so I started painting during weekends when I was not doing my 9-5 job,” he says.
His sojourn in the US also made him more attuned with his roots. Observing Mike’s portfolio, it is easy to see his affinity for folk culture and everyday Filipino living. After all, his return to the Philippines was a significant turning point.
“Several of my paintings are in homes in the USA then I decided to come back to the Philippines and continued my art. Art became my profession,” he says. (Read: Nurse-Turned-Artist Makes Beautiful Portraits Using Duct Tape)
Inspired by Culture, Family
While his affinity for the Philippines is unquestionable, Mike always carries with him his Lebanese roots. As a matter of fact, when a massive explosion hit Beirut in August 2020, Mike was among the artists who mobilized to provide aid to Lebanese in dire need of support.
His art has been his way not just of honoring his culture, but also of reaching out to people in need. (Read: Meet the 27yo Hair Artist Who Gives Free Haircuts to the Homeless)
Inspiration is also important to Mike. If Diego has Frida and Ben has Sabel, Mike has his three daughters. “Most times, I get my inspirations from my three daughters. That’s why now and then I come out with The Three Maria’s Series,” he quips.
Mike cites Picasso, Basquiat, Modigliani, Raul Isidro, and Malang as his role models, but he also cultivates his niche and stays true to it.
“Majority of my works reflect my enchantment with people from all walks of life. Art is about connecting with people’s emotions, be it pain, joy, hope, love, and a sense of mortality,” he says.
“It’s also about commitment…an artist is to be true to himself and the whole world,” adds Mike. (Read: A Heartfelt Prayer for Every Artist)
You can find Mike’s work on his Facebook page.