A cartoonist wisecracks his way to a painting career

Aldrin Tamidles, aka Alburoto, delivers humor and irony in equal doses—with a dash of socio-cultural commentary.

There’s a new guy in town, and he’s definitely not the usual darling of the stuffy, artsy-fartsy crowd. Instead, he’s a hundred percent street, and the art lovers are, well, loving him.  

Aldrin Tamidles, aka the peculiarly monikered “Alburoto,” is in the house.  A recent graduate of the Technological University of the Philippines, Aldrin burst into the art scene as soon as he was let loose from college.  Not a big surprise, though, considering that this “low-brow minimalist” (if there is such a thing) has been at it since grade 4.

Artist Aldrin Tamidles aka Alburoto

During his elementary school days, Alburoto’s art aptitude peeked through, albeit  in the guise of an editorial cartoonist.  As young as Grade 4, Alburoto was sketching funny missives for the Small Voice school paper in Binakayan Elementary in Kawit, Cavite.  This progressed through junior high (The Light Seekers at Tirona Memorial National High School) and senior high (Sebastian Arrows for San Sebastian in Cavite) before his skills landed him a “real” job for the provincial newspaper People’s Bulletin.

Some might consider this atypical path as hardly predictive of a nascent art career, but the discipline involved in reducing socio-political and economic issues into a single, easily understood panel molded Alburoto’s compositional skills.

There was no cartooning in college, but Alburoto did enroll in Fine Arts-Advertising, and he started to paint.  This is what landed the young college student in the high-brow gallery world.  

Wit and irony

“Vague Fashion Statement,” 2023, digital art.

Even before being awarded a college degree, Alburoto’s works had begun popping up in group shows. The Covid lockdowns posed no hindrance, as local galleries still managed to somehow notice the young talent.  The pandemic saw Alburoto featured in such spaces as CXE, Space Encounters, Gallery.Sort.Of, and even Qube Gallery in Cebu.

But innate talent  doesn’t solely explain Alburoto’s meteoric rise to art world darling.  Perhaps, the secret sauce to Alburoto’s popularity is that his works are, simply, fun!

Cheeky, almost impertinent, but certainly witty, Alburoto makes it a point to deliver, within the confines of his canvas, humor and irony in equal doses, with a dash of socio-cultural commentary. A definitive nod to his grounding as an editorial cartoonist.

Alburoto’s naughty take on current events doesn’t offend, and his puns (plenty to be found in the titles of his works) are spot-on.  

From half-naked urchins (with tiny pee-pee showing) to furry critters in cool shades, Alburoto makes one want to snicker, if not guffaw.  His naughty take on current events doesn’t offend, and his puns (plenty to be found in the titles of his works) are spot-on.  

The restraint and curatorial skills required for a cartoonist, so necessary to capture a particular ethos, a moment’s dilemma, all in one succinct frame, together with the imperative to captivate attention with one quip, may very well have forged Aldrin’s identity as a visual artist.

In much the same way, the perspectives and landscapes offered by his current canvasses are sparse.  Alburoto deliberately prefers to keep his works clean and minimalist.  Exactly what an editorial cartoon might look like if it leapt out of the pages of a newspaper, and sprang forth into colorful, yet careful, life.  

Art and poetry

“Irrigation,” 2023, 36×36 in., acrylic on canvas.

Alburoto is also a poet, tending to pair his paintings with a stanza or two.  (All of that poetry has disappeared from his Instagram account though, a mystery to be solved later.) Or if not a poem, there is sometimes just a simple line, a declarative statement that elucidates his thinking.  His text carries a distinctly earthy flavor, a mixing of street and Gen-Z lingo.  That identity is replicated in his paintings, works that reflect kanto-cred with idealistic fervor. 

“Blanket,” 2023, digital art.

Not to worry—he still writes poetry,  Often, these metered quips are paired with on-going paintings, although nowadays, they are scribbled on the iPad beside him.  He reflects that ever since he immersed himself in minimalism, his paintings are now easier to “get,” and there is no longer any need to explain them through accompanying poetry.

Whereas before, ideas would primarily drive Alburoto, lights play that role now. The aesthetics and interplay of color fascinate him, and he experiments with hues and shades, focusing these days on saturations of earth tones (ochre and sand). Next up in the color wheel, he says, will be the blues.

Overseas shows

“Duck Out,” 2023. 36×36 in., acrylic on canvas

Alburoto’s humor translates well with international audiences, and he has managed to book shows with overseas galleries—a feat even seasoned mid-career artists have yet to accomplish.  

Successive hit shows in Taiwan and another solo in Australia prove that Aldrin’s distinctly Pinoy-flavored canvases are met with enthusiasm and, well, sales.  A recent 19Karen Gallery mini-solo show in Gold Coast, Queensland sold out, positioning him well for a solo exhibition next year in Korea.  Local galleries also have him booked for the next couple of years. 

What next for the prodigy? Aside from dabbling in animation and learning more processes and skills to complement his current arsenal, a la Takashi Murakami, Alburoto’s ultimate goal is to get his works enshrined in museums.  For him, there is something about being collected by a museum, where his works will be appreciated by peers and countrymen, that will convince him he has arrived.

Low-hanging fruit for this eminently collectible kid?  One hopes he doesn’t end up becoming inaccessible to local fans.

The new lifestyle.