pioneered, on a self-taught basis yet, in this hitherto untested
and challenging medium locally, and was able to conquer it
despite antiquated and crude tools. Result prismatic works
that make illusion a reality and reality an illusion. Light,
depths and 4-dimensions are as illusory as they are a lived
and relived experience. Each work is a masterpiece of some
abstract reality fashioned out of some natural object or ideational
truly reveal the head, eye and hand of a young master at work,
who is no longer an "undiscovered mater" as Anding Roces complained,
but is now in the limelight - rightfully and at last. The
irony is that it took the Czech Artist of Merit (the equivalent
of our National Artist) Prof. Stanislab Libensky, head of
the Prague Academy of Applied Art to hail Orlina as "il maestro".
In Europe, IL maestro is used "calibrate the prowess of an
artist as one existing in a class by himself."
one-man show attests to his position of primacy in sculpture
and in Philippine art as a whole. (Lopez Museum Gallery, Meralco
Ave., Pasig, MM, 12 May - 8 June). Called NAESA (his daughter's
name and first child - ASEAN spelled backward - who was born
during the summit meeting of the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations last December), the show consists of 23 new
works on their world premiere. It was formally opened by Dr.
George Hill Hodel, chairman, International Research Associates
a licensed architect, ventured into glass sculpture by chance.
While discussing a project with a client, he kept talking
about the properties and characteristics of glass and its
potentials for sculpture. Before he knew it, he found himself
face to face with Victor A. Lim, then president of Republic
Glass Corporation in Pasig, MM. An art lover, Lim gave him
"special arrangements" that included, among others, free and
unlimited use of the company's facilities for Orlina's needs
including study grants anywhere in the world without any obligation
at all to the bewildered and speechless Orlina. Things happened
so fast, too good to be true. When he found his bearings again,
it was to request Lim on paper that he, Orlina, accept the
offer purely and solely as an artist. No more. No less. The
arrangements are still in force. No party has tried to exploit
of glass come in various sizes and degrees of surface crudeness.
The prismatic thalo green colors are no where visible in the
raw blocks. Instead, muddy colors and corrugated surfaces,
no better or worse than a block of earth, are all that suggest
a faint studio glass.
unsightly materials, Orlina would fashion out his abstract
designs directly on the blocks - cutting, grinding, and polishing
the surfaces until the original artistic idea is released
from the block that imprisoned it.
easy. But not quite. An artistic idea exists in its purest
abstraction - no natural outside referent - and undergoes
transformation, revision and sometimes an entirely new trajectory
in the process of creation. The block of glass and idea in
progress enter into a give and take process given the characteristics
of the medium.
like a bubble or two trapped within which a technician may
consider an imperfection, is exploited to the hilt, highlighted
and made an integral part of the composition. This is where
the artist is separated from the technician. Orlina, the consummate
glass sculptor that he has now become is that kind of an artist.
He knows how to exploit the virtue of "imperfection". And
the floodgates of exciting, incredible prismatic visuals take
place. The multiplier effect takes effect. Flat planes receive
the bubble of an imperfection and multiply it for as many
number of times as there are possible viewpoints, each time
releasing varied values and intensities of the single color:
are the flat planes that optically become concave and convex
surfaces leading the eye into tunnelized paths clarified by
a labyrinth of planar patterns accented by shifting light
in and out of the glass sculpture.
voids (continuous holes) appear where none actually exist.
Further more, light and planes cascade in recessed columnar
flanks, taper to an optical vanishing point only to break
into either singles or pairs. In any case, the eye journey
in and out and around a sculptural piece follows an asymmetrical
balance that underscores the dynamism that is built in.
at an Orlina glass sculpture is to encounter the workings
of a determined and disciplined human mind capable of formulating
and releasing thoughts both pristine and prismatic. Orlina's
thoughts are as orderly as they are provocative, conditioned
and tempered no doubt by his formal training as an architect.
logic governs his works. Where a mass demands vigor and strength,
it gets both with the added dimension of depth through light.
And light through depth.
of synergism is obviously a conceptual framework, but does
not, however, exist a priori of the finished product. It exists
as a twin entity of the concept, and likewise submits to changes
in degrees as the work progresses. In this sense, an Orlina
glass sculpture is not really a finished artpiece. It grows.
And grows continuously. As it does, it generates new ideas
calculated to enrich the life of the mind.
years ago, Orlina cut himself into the local art scene with
a commissioned muralief (mural in relief) on glass, of course.
Titled Arcanum XIX Paradised Gained, this large glass
mural measuring 1.80 x 3.20 x .60 m, is now catalogued as
the first of its kind in the country. It occupies a position
of prominence at the lobby of the Silahis International Hotel.
now, his mastery of the medium had become apparent. Such mastery
is indeed incredible given the shortfall in technology and
the culture of poverty close to a bloated zero vis-à-vis glass
sculpture. No art school in the country, even at this moment
that piece is being written, has taken the lead role in introducing
glass sculpture in the fine arts curricula. No short courses.
No workshops. No nothing.
from cast, hand and face mostly, must still be the standard
practice. At this time of high-tech and the concomitant fast
pace of change, the art schools owe it to their students to
overhaul the curricula with an eye for innovativeness, ineventiveness
World thinking - call it inhibitive - must now give way to
a macrovision with a tenable world view. The art schools have
to institutionalize this new and needed thrust if they are
to continue being regarded as the training ground of the country's
visual articulators of culture. Anything less is a disservice
to Philippine art and culture.
against this otherwise pathetic background that Orlina becomes
a towering artist and his glass sculptures solid milestones
besides being a class in themselves. He has single-handedly
-- again - shattered the bias against artists in developing
countries as behind the times.
to cower in fright before a cold, solid glass loaded with
problems and shortcomings known and unknown, Orlina has had
the good fortune of meeting his adversary head on. His slim
build is a deceptive as his relatively "small" artpieces.
His body has conquered the limitations of its size and made
an abstract thought crystal-clear and a tactile experience.
no doubt, the virtue of a pass-on technical know-how, Orlina
had seen fit to employ no less than five assistants. His is
to conceptualize; theirs is to actualize. Just the same he,
he is onto every artwork because of the conceptual and structural
changes that must be made in the process of creation.
after all, is nontransferable.
assistants who can deliver assumes a social dimension only
a few artists are able to give. This kind of help is not really
new to Orlina. He had done this in various capacities in the
past: as an architect, sculptor or painter. And he had never
counted the cost.
recognition of Orlina's worth and firmly established position
in contemporary Philippine art unfortunately escaped him in
1984. Despite his distinguished body of works and scores of
testimonials from people who really matter here and abroad,
not to mention the enormous points that he had amassed, the
jurors in the Ten Outstanding Young Men bypassed him "in favor
of a less-deserving nominee whose achievements pales besides
him - a debacle which the TOYM organizers will probably never
live down," as Torres puts it.
loser of course, was not Orlina - but the TOYM because it
lost face, credibility and prestige.
can have the last laugh now if he wants to. But he is more
preoccupied with his art and new trials to be blazed to brood
over a cardinal sin committed by some people. His environmental
sculptures and mobiles in public plazas and ultramodern buildings
in the Asian circuit must grow into newer artforms. The chemistry
of glass must be studied so that glass and wood may form a
partnership bigger in scope and more ambitious in concept.
Given his creative reservoir, this is attainable. Definitely.
June 2, 1988