as art is a formidable experience of the tactile, sensory,
and spatial. As an art form the medium takes both literal
and figurative connotations. Glass is refractive: glass art
becomes the embodiment of light harnessed by the artist's
vision into a recognizable shape that pleases the eye, transports
the beholder onto pleasurable planes, and at other times,
mirrors human emotions.
Orlina's first solo show in the United States was at Seattle's
newly opened Bryan Ohno Gallery. The choice of venue and the
selection of artist for the gallery's grand opening is a collaborative
venture and a lesson in art, economics, politics, and polemics.
Both artmaker and art proponent are seeking the utmost in
professional endeavor in the service of glass in art. Orlina,
born in 1944 in Manila, and raised in the Philippines, exudes
the aura of one who has already transcended the confines of
nationality. Through a successful process of forged links,
he has become one of the principle spokesmen for contemporary
glass sculpture in the Asia-Pacific region. Orlina has built
a highly impressive body of work that currently adorns many
public sites and corporate institutions throughout Asia. In
the world of international glass art, Orlina represents the
East, as Dale Chihuly does the west.
waiting for such industrial waste to be transformed from its
molten, fluid state, to solid, hardened chunks. An adept tactician,
he confronts this amorphous lump, ready to shape it and be
shaped by it.
a circuitous route, Orlina has prepared himself for the role
into which he now puts all his energies. Academic discipline
as an architect-tuned-visual artist has given him the structural
knowledge of linear composition and the three-dimensional.
His sculptures remind one of thrusting shapes propelled from
a cantilevered base; poised for motion, seemingly caught at
the very moment of articulation. When the movements in space
cleave to a central formation, there is a successful merging
of dynamism and serene balance. At other times, using a combination
of angular shapes and punched out holes that encircle here
and there, Orlina manages to convey intelligible feelings
of a human scale. Here is a partial or fragment of human shape,
deliciously erotic, or perhaps tenderly reminiscent of mother/child
bonding as in his Ning Ning series of breast-shaped sculptural
City (1996) is a megalithic aggregate of rectilinear shapes
melded into a semblance of skylines and abstracted cityscapes.
The titled alludes to Seattle, yet by its very nature presents
endless possibilities for interpretation and geographic attribution.
Orlina shows marked maturity in handling of subject matter
and medium as works such as Nikolai Sanctum (1996),
Diversiform (1996), and Focus on Movement (1996)
clearly show. His recent work has a certain looseness of conception
that characterizes the artist's work at his peak period. There
is a certain boldness and energy surrounding these works.
In his ease in handling the medium Orlina is a clever manipulator
of space. He traps the light and makes his viewer forget that
this after all, is merely glass.
Orlina makes a relatively unwieldy, hard-looking material
seem remarkably fluid and sinuous - the qualities naturally
present in a brittle substance such as glass are magically
transformed. Quality of light is what makes the art of glass
one of the most alluring of artistic mediums. Orlina not only
harnesses the refractive qualities of light and all its translucency
but succeeds in giving new meaning to glass as art, and glass
in the service of art.
plans are being put into concrete form with the Museum of
International Glass, spearheaded by Dale Chihuly in Tacoma,
where he grew up. The plan calls for an articulated vision
of glass to be housed in a site in the Northwest which would
bring together the greatest creators and collection of contemporary
glass (art) on the international scene. It would be a perfect
approach to art, as envisioned by art practitioners, patrons,
and cultural proponents for the new millennium. The excitement
that is being generated by all the creations in glass are
bringing further distinction to the Northwest.
Orlina's entry into the art scene in the Pacific-Northwest
forges more human connections than is readily discernible.
By choosing to present his first solo show in the United States
within the Northwest, he pays a backhand compliment to the
many positive attributes of the place. He tacitly recognizes
the various kinships of common descent, history, and culture.
Investing his confidence in talents that transcend boundaries,
and affirming his own versatility, Bryan Ohno makes his formal
debut in the world of international art. The choice of glass
as his gallery's first salvo into the art world brings a lot
of meaning into play. Glass is made by the fusion of silica
and alkali, mixed into a crucible form which glass achieves
a molten state through the element of fire. The resulting
work when harnessed by the artist is transformed into objects
of beauty. There are many allusions of how art, its practitioners,
and propagators have come together in this one moment to bring
the message across: the beauty is in the eye of the beholder,
transcending imagined boundaries of state and nation.
Sculpture News Winter 1997 pp. 50-51
Laird Smith, who spent five years in Manila, is at the University
of Washington and a research developer for the Tacoma Arts