Thomasian artists in 'Autopilots vs The Iron Sky'
(The Philippine Star) - April 29, 2013 - 10:05am

MANILA, Philippines - Art and morality have been inextricably linked for thousands of years, art having been seen as depictive of truth and goodness. However, in the contemporary context, existing in a constant flux of information and clashing morals, art-as-morality no longer resonates as profoundly.

When faced with the myriad of choices today, society and cultural milieu normally dictate the most acceptable courses of action, but that and what is "true," "appropriate," "principled" "correct," and "right" can all simultaneously exist as different choices, and oftentimes even contradict one another.

In “Autopilots vs The Iron Sky”, an exhibit by artists Jood, Jie Adamat, Nicol Mesina, Djinn Tallada, Bernard Pena, Nonie Cruzado, Reinald Laurel, and Ezra Reverente, all who have shared common ground at the University of Santo Tomas, the quandaries of contemporary existence are explored as each persona asks questions such as: is doing what one wills freedom, or is it subservience to his own wants?; are we limited by rules, or do steadfast principles allow oneself to be free of the tyranny of his own desires?; when does freedom end, and hedonism begin?

From the sublime to the grotesque, the artists in this exhibit prompt an inquiry into the metaphysical dilemmas of relativism and choice.

Nicol Mesina mainly draws from his own experiences when it comes to making art. His paintings often are markings of his own life events and how they have shaped his perception and aesthetic. Music is also a vital influence in Nicol’s art. Influences of punk are evident in his political works, provoking thought and even resistance. Gothic rock also resonates in his imageries dealing with decay, darkness, and the nocturnal.

Nicol has also tapped inspirations from diverse art movements in history including Renaissance, Realism, and Surrealism. The artist has also dabbled in photography, which also plays a role in molding his art. Memento Mori or Victorian death photos influence the eerie darkness underlying the theme of his paintings.  

Bernard Kenneth Peña is a freelance artist from south of the metro. Eight years in the industry and he says he already feels like a hundred years old. Most of his recent works are in animation and book illustrations as well as graphic and web designs.

He takes the Filipino saying “Kapag may tiyaga, may nilaga” a step further by stating that he’s not only after the 'nilaga', he’s here for the feast.

His piece, “Sound Proof” could very well be the sumptuous appetizer as it illustrates greatly another well-known saying: “ignorance is bliss.”

“In this case, it’s more like refusing to listen to other’s opinion,” Bernard says. “Which I think can be a double edged sword. It may be that I am too stubborn to listen to good reasons and the other is that I may have gotten it all figured out, knowing all along that it’s the right thing to do. With that said, only time will tell if all these are bound to be regretful.”


Djinn Tallada began his expoloration of art as early as the age of two. Unlike other kids, Djinn’s illustrations did not begin with stick figures but with representative drawins with a sense of distortion. He relies in the interaction of artist and artwork and believes that each piece offers a message—that the artist not only creates art but that the art also speaks to the artist. There is a mutuality, in a sense and Djinn believes it is integral in the creation process.

Artists have false texts in life depending on the vulnerability of his works. He can take credit or not but somewhere out there the artworks speak equally to what the artist has made. The messages rely on how perfect mutualism of the artist and the piece starts during execution. This is how Djinn does his craft.

According to Nonie Cruzado’s mother, as early as two, he was already hooked on utilizing a pen and paper and sometimes broomstick and dirt to create art.

Doodles at first glance are meaningless or without a purpose, he says.  “It’s just a play of strokes. But it bears with it honesty and pureness—the absence of fear of being criticized. These characteristics sometimes fail in most adult works, and most of the time my own.”

Most of his artworks are the result of his fascination with the mundane body and the free mind, exhibiting the artist’s obsession with duality and contrast of ideas.

The works of Ezra Reverente, or simply "e s d r a s", is a modern take on child art and social realism. Esdras’ works can be appreciated on the appeal of the texture, color and composition, and techniques with deeper interpretation.

In his piece “Blinded by Genies”, he imparts that we tend to accumulate things we really don’t need in our lives. Wearing the mask is a means of filtering the emotions, refocusing on what is needed instead.
“For any reason, how can we show our love to our love one’s? It’s not the material things, but understanding the every situation happening around us.”

Jood’s art thrives in the urban experience, choosing the accessibility of graffiti and sstencil since 2006 to communicate his point of view. Jood uses this non-traditional medium to proffer reflection through the backdrop of urbanity versus struggle. His works considers the experience of cosmopolitan individuals through his trademark hooded wanderer—an outsider, an observer who survives in resilience and can weather the flux of modernity and change. Jood’s hooded figure peers silently and speaks to him about the universal longing to find sense in the middle of all the noise.


Jie Adamat is a member of the Tanay Artist Group and Neo-Angono Artist Collective. At a young age, she started painting under the guidance of Tanay artists Ramon Piguing, Leo Tang-O an Hon. Jimmy Vista. Based in Tanay, Rizal, Jie journeys to and from Angono looking for inspiration and finding her true calling. An apprentice to Wire Tuazon, Jie is exposed to contemporary art and is doing her part in promoting it through PAROLA, an artist group she co-founded. Her artworks are like a biography of her life and existence. She doesn’t consider herself as an expressive person, and lets her art do the talking.

“Autopilots vs The Iron Sky” is currently on exhibit until May 17, 2013 at Arts in the City, FVR Park, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

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