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Ramon Orlina: Filipino Artist Par Excellance
Jan 23, 2004
- Blessy M. Feliciano

You can make a glass by melting an amorphous material and cooling it to rigidity without crystallization; you can be an excellent glass artist by studying the success story of this glass genius, finding the best angle for the best interpretation, and applying the lessons you get into life.


Filipino artist Ramon Orlina has been creating marvelous glassworks for 29 years. He started as an architect -- practicing the degree he earned from the University of Sto. Tomas -- later shifting to painting, and then to sculpture.  


“The relationship between art and architecture should be as they were before the Western Renaissance. The two disciplines are one,” he justifies.


Glass has a very unique appeal to this artist. “First it is a liquid that has solidified, frozen. There’s magic right there. And then, you don’t get tired of looking at a glass. If you move your head just a little, you see it in a different way. It becomes something else again. The play of light on a piece can totally transform it,” he reveals.


Like self-taught Filipino revolutionary Andres Bonifacio, Orlina taught himself the rudiments of glass sculpture through playful exploration of crystal blocks, exploiting their translucent quality and smooth finish from months of cutting, shaping, reshaping, grinding, regrinding, and polishing.

For each enthralling piece, the man has earned himself international reputation, extending to art circles and patrons in Paris, Monte Carlo, New York, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, and the former Czechoslovakia.


He represented the Philippines in various art competitions and exhibitions like the Grand Prix Internationale D’Arte Contemporaine de Monte Carlo in 1977, the Bienale Internationale de Arte in Chile in 1987, the Japanese Suntory Prize Exhibition and the 9th Asian International Art Exhibition in 1994.


Orlina sculpted his shining pedestal of victory in 1993. It was in that very year when he was conferred the ASEAN Awards for Visual Arts. Climbing the ladder further, his “Silvery Moon” pushed him to the zenith in 1999, winning the “Mr. F Prize” of the prestigious Toyamura International Sculpture Bienale in Hokkaido, Japan. This event attracted 956 entries in all mediums from 65 participating countries. 


If there is one characteristic of Orlina that keeps him on top of his chosen field, it's in what we call "innovation". He never fails to excite his audience through the years, providing fresh concepts and masterpieces in every outing.


Orlina does not settle to just one medium, to just one style. In the turn of the millenium, he integrated art and architecture in his tubular stainless steel “Basketball Mi Mundo” which won him first prize in the fine arts category of the II International Biennale of Basketball in the Fine Arts held in Madrid in January 2000.


With “his impeccable craftsmanship and his success at bringing glass art to new heights”, Orlina, a file from the Cultural Center of the Philippines states, “will be etched in the Filipino memory as a synonym for glass sculpture in the Philippines.”


Call this a celebration of Filipino genius.

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