Sometimes, one unexpected call may lead to “some kind of wonderful.” A childhood friend of mine who relocated to Austria months prior to the pandemic recently called to say hello. He knew what I do, and in our conversation, he mentioned he got in touch with Vienna-based artist Tommy Aquino who’s making some big waves as a painting artist christened as a new-age Pablo Picasso.
My buddy’s call made me further check about Tommy’s work and got me to his other art: music. Impressively, the internationally recognized artist is a naturally skilled folk singer performing around the famed European city with his guitar and fedora hat. His composition “Kay Sarap Mamuhay Sa Sariling Bayan,” which his singing wife Kathy vocally interprets in live performances, even won in a songwriting competition there. He started composing at age – drum roll please – 10.
It was likewise a friend’s call that brought Tommy to the wonderful, cultural center that is Vienna. Residing there for two decades now, Tommy kept his music going, singing his originals and doing classic covers, from Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” to the Simon and Garfunkel version of “Scarborough Fair.” His voice has that timbre we’ve come to love through icons like Freddie Aguilar and Joey Ayala.
As you can expect, audiences in Vienna sound receptive to his act, including the city’s Filipino community. In one of his YouTube uploads, his witty lyric line about dogs being treated with utmost respect drew cheers from Pinoys who must have missed seeing askals in the streets!
When I contacted Tommy for a virtual chat, I was introduced to the thoughts of a down-to-Earth fellow with immense talent and a big heart. Prior to relocating, he did gigs in the Manila Sound scene, and shared his blessings to some street children and less privileged adults alike. It comes as no surprise that he takes pride in being a philanthropist.
“Nung dumating ako dito sa Austria. Naaliw ako kaagad kasi may snow,” the multi-faceted talent quipped, “And then I found love here at decided ako na tutukan ang art ko.”
Pure talent backed by firm decision-making often leads to success. In Tommy’s case, it is the art world that he conquered big-time. His painting “The Tranquility” made a loud, pretty noise and it started the ball rolling. He had a one-man exhibit at UN Vienna International Center in 2002 and then returned to the venue just five years ago. His artworks have toured the world over, and in popular cities like London, Shanghai, and Busan. Among his most revered paintings are “The Blond Hair Woman,” “Sunflowers Field,” “The Heart, Body, and Soul,” among others.
“My passion is in my inner soul and I am always learning from my experiences,” the self-taught artist shared in his website.
By this weekend, Tommy Aquino masterpieces printed on a variety of items can be acquired at ETSY — the e-commerce specialist on craft and vintage supplies.