Critique by Noel S. Villaflor


BREVITY, it’s been said, is the soul of wit. And in Jethro Estimo’s third one-man exhibit, such a soul is dark, irreverent and whim-

sical.  Featuring “quickie” digital artworks hatched in record speed before bedtime, “Tiaw-Tiaw sa Urom (Nonsensical Night-

mares): #30minutesketch before zzz” can be taken as pica-pica social commentary served as midnight snacks or the visual

ramblings of a fabulist gone mad. Or both.


And there are close to 150 of these printed digital sketches now framed and hanging at the Maribago Bluewater Gallery.

Estimo intended these works to be as nonsensical and as inconsistent as possible. “Consistency is the last refuge of the

unimaginative,” he quotes Oscar Wilde, as if to blame the writer for planting the seed of thought for this brazen, quite original

exhibit that actually works. “At the start, I wanted each work to appear as inconsistent from the others as possible,” Estimo says.

“But as I went along, the opposite happened: there now seems a consistency to it all.” It’s not hard to see why.


In local circles obsessed with trivia quizzes, Estimo is known as one hulk of a walking repository of random information. One

can barely imagine what he does with what populates his head. This exhibit is one of them: a collection of self-portraits, throw-

back material, socio-political annotations, and cheeky random pickings, most of which are pun-filled (e.g. “Ritler [Rizal x Hitler]”

and “Tinidora the Explorer”).


Estimo’s digitally rendered naïve style ties all 153 art pieces together. But what elevates his work from mere cartoonish sketch-

ing is its sardonic wit and “insta-storytelling” – scanning through the coarse sketches of contemporary ideas, elements and

imagery, one can almost hear scornful laughter in the background, if not a muted celebration of dark, Dionysian humor, from

those trying to make sense of the nonsensical (i.e. the world we live in, what else).


There are no promises that viewing the exhibit will give you nightmares, although it might keep you awake thinking well into

the dead of night. Still, it’s a head trip worth having. Re-imagining 153 mindworks piece by piece, while trying to fend off

sleeplessness, is way better than counting sheep.