TYPICAL of what any other Filipino tourist does, our globetrotting, eminent glass sculptor Ramon Orlina does the round of obligatory shopping, as pasalubong for family and friends, and certainly for himself.
This time Orlina bought for his fashionable self a nice, smart, spiffy blue shirt. But what’s not typical is that the blue shirt is not made of cotton or silk or jersey, but of glass!
Orlina—who never leaves things halfway done—was not content in merely buying one glass sculpture of a blue shirt at the recently concluded Art Stage Singapore in Marina Bay Sands and decided, sometime later, to bring the shelves of blue-shirt glass sculptures back home for exhibition at his own glass palace, the Museo Orlina in Tagaytay, with the sculptor himself, Dong Hoon Kwak, in tow!
The viewer can still catch the show titled, simply enough, “Blue Shirt” in Reflections Gallery at Museo Orlina. It was organized in collaboration with 1st Ikon Gallery of Busan, Korea.
Kwak is a Korean sculptor who studied the art of casting glass when he graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of Glass Sculpture in Namseoul University, Korea. In 2011, he was awarded a Special Prize in the First Korea Young Artist Grand Prize Festival.
Anyone walking inside the gallery may think he has mistakenly stepped into a fashion store, since what’s on display are rows and rows of long-sleeved shirts which, upon closer look, are not the usual crisply pressed shirts but abound in folds and wrinkles and creases, though they seem tucked inside neat little boxes—except, again, that they’re in glass.
Metaphor for life
One needs to look at these glass sculptures beyond the novelty of the one abiding subject, which some may consider too lowly, too Pop, not exalted enough for the noble art of sculpture.
Kwak, however, has elevated the subject and used the creased and wrinkled shirt as a metaphor for his own life, how his own personal garment, a collared and long-sleeved corduroy shirt, now cast in molten blue glass, immobile and imperturbable, seems liquidly poured into a mold, the flowing of his spirituality into his art now countenanced as a veritable death mask.
But while these shirts lie inert, so flawlessly produced, they seem to contain within a restive energy, evocative of a spirit that has been stilled against its will.
Challenges of philosophy
Impressively Kwak extols Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, the German philosopher and mathematician, who recognized the theory that the elementary particle which the world was composed of was a wrinkle, not a dot.
Further buttressing the significance of his subject is the theory of Gilles Delueze, a French philosopher who explained that wrinkles could be divided into “wrinkles of materials” and “wrinkles of spirit”—and that the two were connected to each other.
The regular visitors at Museo Orlina, however, need not be intimidated by the challenges of philosophy and, though they may not “iron” out the difference between the two types of wrinkles, indeed there is more than enough fun and delectation in the “Blue Shirt” works to hold their interest, and guaranteed to elicit the childlike delight and glee at the magical material of light-emitting glass.
“Blue Shirt” is running at Museo Orlina, Hollywood Street, Hollywood Subdivision, Tolentino East, Tagaytay City. Tel. (046) 4132581 (Tagaytay); 7815918/7496439; 0906-4340862/0918-6424562.