Famous for his glass sculptures, Ramon Orlina, a seminal figure in Philippine art, has managed to stand well above his contemporaries by mastering a unique and powerful medium. By making glass sculptures bend to details of figurations-a woman’s torso, a couple’s embrace-and grouping them with glass abstractions of various shades of pink, amber, cobalt, and the familiar green, Orlina has managed to take his works to a higher level while remaining faithful to the consistency of his oeuvre.
Fresh from the critical success of his contribution to the Quadricentennial celebrations of the University of Santo Tomas, that 10-meter-tall monumental work of cast bronze and carved glass called “QuattroMondial”, Orlina presents new pieces and major works in a much awaited exhibit “Luminosity: The Manila Collection” at the newly-renovated Galerie Joaquin in San Juan, on July 13, at 6 p.m.
An initial selection of “Luminosity” was first introduced in a show for Art Trek, the multi-event celebration of the Philippine Embassy and the Philippine community in celebration of the Philippine National Day in Singapore at the GJ Asian Art Gallery in 2008. It was a completely sold-out show.
Taking his cue from the renowned architect Frank Gehry, Orlina continues his brilliant work with colored glass. The evolution of his oeuvre is paramount with his move from the abstract prisms in his earlier works to the more refined figurations that characterize his recent pieces. The technical aptitude of his talent is apparent in the fact that the sculpting process is one of abrasion rather than heat. While carved glass is the more accurate term for the medium of his works, the feel for the organic, the smooth curves and glinting light reflected within underscores the artist’s creative inputs to his art like fitting pieces of a puzzle, Orlina’s approach forces one to examine the details of what is being shown rather than search for what cannot be grasped. In this sense, Orlina stands as a beacon in Philippine art.
Art scholar Rod Paras-Perez in an article for the Asia Times titled “Heart of Glass” notes that what Orlina does is that he “molds the glass as a sculptor would a piece of marble or any stone. Often by painstakingly guiding each work into the shape or form he wants.” Under Orlina’s artistic sensitivity, glass is transformed into abstract emeralds. The artist successfully brings forth an unparalleled dynamism in his sculptures utilizing the sheen of the medium and encouraging interesting variations of light and color with his interventions.
Orlina is an internationally acclaimed artist garnering international recognitions and awards such as Winner in 1999 at the Toyamura International Sculpture Biennial in Japan. In the Year 2000, he won First Prize in the Sculpture Category in a biennial in Alcobendas, Madrid, Spain. He was a finalist in numerous biennials and triennials including the Osaka Triennials in Japan in 1992 as well in the Fifth International Exhibition of Glass in Kanaza at the Ishikawa prefecture in Japan and in the New Glass Competition of the Corning Museum of Glass in New York.
The artist has had 30 one-man shows in a stellar career that has taken him to leading galleries in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong and the United States. He has also participated in group exhibits in Sweden, Australia, Japan, Norway, Italy, China, Czechoslovakia and Monaco. Having had some time to conceptualize this current exhibition and with the momentum of his Quattro Mondial work, Luminosity:The Manila Collection promises to be an even more exciting visual experience for Orlina’s collectors and aficionados.
Refined, elegant, and simply breathtaking, it would certainly be a mistake to miss out on what will surely be one of the most talked-about art events of the year. “Luminosity” is the very definition of Ramon Orlina and will no doubt leave one contemplating the residual light of a viewing.
Galerie Joaquin is located at 371 P. Guevarra Street corner Montessori Lane, Addition Hills, San Juan. They may be reached by landline phone at (632) 723-9253 and (632) 7239418 and more information is available at their website at www.galeriejoaquin.com.
Duffie Hufana Osental is editor at large of Contemporary Art Philippines magazine.