THE LARGE-SCALE paintings by late abstractionist Romulo Olazo have returned to the Bulwagang Juan Luna (Main Gallery) and Pasilyo Guillermo Tolentino (Third Floor Hallway) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in a survey exhibit, almost four decades after CCP first mounted Olazo’s works.
The exhibit, titled Olazo Large-Scale, features an array of Olazo’s abstract paintings from 1974 until before his passing in 2015. This includes his magnum opus “Diaphanous” series.
According to wife Patricia Olazo, the exhibit serves as a homecoming for her late husband’s first exhibit.
“This exhibit is a commemoration of Ola’s works and career. We started conceptualizing this two years ago,” she said.
The exhibit reunites the mural-large-scale paintings from Olazo’s private collection along with other private collections from Paseo Gallery, Ayala Foundation, PLDT Foundation, among others.
Greeting exhibit-goers is 12 of the 13 first large-scale paintings from Olazo’s 1974 debut exhibit, which were carefully restored due to ant infestation.
Mounted on the opposite side is “Wordless Book,” a five-panel oil-on-canvas painting from 2014, which depicts indefinite figures and intervening lines painted against a dark-toned backgrounds.
Displayed on the opposite sides of the Main Gallery are two large-scale paintings, each from two of Olazo’s “Diaphanous.”
“Diaphanous B-CXXXV” depicted see-through, cascading subjects like plants, Anthuriums and waves. On the other side, “Diaphanous Anthurium” portrayed Anthuriums, a flowering plant, in green, red, orange, blue and yellow against a cerulean background. Both measured 80 x 240 inches.
Olazo had his first one-man exhibition at the CCP Main Gallery in 1974 titled “The Silkscreen Process and Its Possibilities.” Its main feature was a 24-foot serigraph monoprint, a type of silk-screen printing.
A native of Balayan, Batangas, Olazo moved to Manila in 1959 to study at the old College of Architecture and Fine Arts in UST. He learned under the tutelage of National Artist Victorio Edades and Diosdado Lorenzo.
In 1972, he was recognized as part of the first batch of the Thirteen Artists awardees of the CCP.
He married Patricia in 1966 and had three children, one of whom is Jonathan Olazo who curated the exhibit.
The younger Olazo said the purpose of the layers of his paintings is to give “more depth on the work.”
“For him, it’s also important to play with form,” Jonathan told the Varsitarian. “My father once said he found big spaces natural to doodle or work on.”
“He told me that painting large spaces has always been a challenge. He used to work on painting billboards before tarpaulins were popular,” he added.
Olazo Large-Scale runs until Sept. 8.