AWARD-WINNING children’s book illustrator Jason Moss has already illustrated more than 27 children’s books, including National Book Awards winners “A Sea of Stories” and “Cinco de Noviembre.” He is also an editorial cartoonist, a painter, and the art director of GMA 7’s children art show “Art Angel.” He has also illustrated “Ang Bangka ni Paulo,” the first Cebuano children’s book about AIDS.

But Living in Centavos, his solo exhibit at Pablo, a Marikina Shoe Expo gallery, is definitely not for children.

In his 16th solo exhibit, Moss, a College of Architecture and Fine Arts alumnus, deviates from his vivid and cheery book illustrations, as most of the pieces on the exhibit imply darker adult themes. “Hanger Appeal,” a half-naked man smoking a cigarette, shows Moss’ skill in color—the life-like treatment of the man’s skin contrasting with the black-and-red background, the smoke curlicues floating near his face.

A similar smoking figure is in “Downright Upright,” with the subject’s one hand on his hip while the other holding a cigarette delicately between two fingers, white puffs of smoke wafting around him. The portrait of the vice, is repeated in the biggest piece on the exhibit, “Rettes and Chez Smoking Blah,” a portrait of a man set against a background of swirling shapes and lines.

An enigmatic piece, “Disney Bitch” shows a naked woman with her back turned, her disproportionate hips noticeable with the blue skin of her body, while an owl leers from the ground. Although there is nothing that immediately calls to mind an association with Disney, it is almost a masterpiece of lighting and color.

Aim higher, nurses told

The way they are translated into the piece’s base manifests the artist’s expertise with oil pastels.

The acrylic painting, “Girlfriend,” reflects more of Moss’ book-illustration background—with the convoluted shapes and human-like figures in clean, almost crisp, lines. It stood out despite its relative lack of color, as the artist limited his palette to three colors in this piece: red, white, and black.

An almost disturbing scenario of human bodies with animal silhouettes for faces is depicted in “Cookie Cutter Posers.” The mixed-media piece is almost a macabre version of Moss’ book illustrations—a scene he may have written himself through art.

Moss knows his foregrounds and backgrounds very well; never did they upset the composition of the works. His brushstrokes and lines border on impasto—almost rough and untamed, but not quite evoking spontaneity and impulsive subject portrayal.

This “other” side of the artist is heavily expressed in the exhibit. Moss was not restricted by the text in the books he illustrated. This just shows that Jason Moss’ art is not exclusively for children,; it is also for those who can appreciate its more serious side and the many stories that come with it.


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