Olazo/Orlina: Of light and delight

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Cityscape (Orlina)PAINTER Romulo Olazo and sculptor Ramon Olazo, two of the country’s most respected senior visual artists, joined forces in Olazo/Orlin, a tandem exhibit held last November 13 to 28 at the ArtistSpace gallery of the Ayala Museum.

Both are alumni of the old UST College of Architecture and Fine Arts alumni, where the sculptor finished Architecture and the painter took up Fine Arts. But aside from their educational lineage, the two are joined by their artistic experimentations. As noted by art critic Cid Reyes, the two artists are “Virtuosos of Light.”

“Both Olazo’s and Orlina’s works seem lighted from within, thus their strong spiritual resonances,” said Reyes. “Their show is a glowing optical experience.”

Both are also into abstraction. Olazo is arguably the best living Filipino abstractionist while Orlina is noted for his glass abstractions.

Diaphanous #754 (Olazo)Olazo in recent years has gone more and more into large-scale abstract canvases despite undergoing a heart bypass in 2003 and depending on a pacemaker since then.

The 1972 Thirteen Artists Awardee has held exhibits in France, United States, Brazil, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia.

“I worked with an advertising agency and got tired of it, but with painting, it is just a continuous flow in my blood,” Olazo said.

Olazo has become the darling of collectors for his continuing series. Diaphanous, which has in the past years become larger and larger, belying his advanced years and the toll of age on his health. The series is a luminous showcase of his talents in form, line, and color. From the Greek word “diapanes” which means “to show through,” Diaphanous shows overlapping geometric figures, their soul or aura in a brilliant configuration.

His paintings are modernist in their seeming simplicity and transparency;they embody the artistic process itself.

“I love simplicity, I want to show light and transparency in things,” Olazo said.

“Diaphanous # 733” and “Diaphonous #741” look like floral forms, their phosphorescent and organic green tints depicting grace under pressure.

Olazo said he loves doing Diaphanous so as to register transparency in his works. The radiance from the interplay of cool and warm colors provides a soothing ambiance to the eyes.

“His paintings are usually not based on figurative patterns, not like what you see in a still life,” his wife, Pat Olazo, said.

Glass reflections

Orlina, a licensed architect, credited the lack of construction jobs during the Martial Law period for giving him the gift of time, which led him to his pioneering glass structures.

For his sculptures, Orlina has won the ASEAN Awards for Visual Arts (1993), Toyamura International Sculpture Biennale (Japan,1999) and II Bienal International del Baloncesto en las Bellas Artes (Spain, 2000), His works trap light within the edges of glass, transforming the glass work into a hallowing of space. Multiplicity of angles makes the glass sculpture a surprise at every turn.

“In sculpture, one of the most important things is light, because through reflections it becomes different,” Orlina said.

“Rolling Rivers,” a carved azure blue crystal, portrays the circular motion of water in pure stillness. On the other hand, a blue-green glass shaped into three figures attached to each other is entitled “Household of Faith,” an abstract depiction of the Holy Family.

For the last year, Orlina has been working on a monumental outdoor sculpture cast in bronze and glass for the Quadricentenial of UST called “QuattroMondial.”

On January 27, 2011, which is also his birthday, the 10.32 meters high sculpture will be inaugurated. The monument is being cast in Thailand.

“The monument has four human figures representing the 400 yeas of the university,” he said. “They are Piolo Pascual, Charlene Gonzales, Rev. Fr. Rolando de la Rosa and my daughter, Monina Orlina.” Ana May De La Cruz

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