Ramon OrlinaGLASS was generally considered as merely “decorative” until Thomasian sculptor Ramon Orlina came, got his hands on some discarded fragments, and turned it into a new artistic medium.

In his exhibit titled Glass and Bronze held last June 18 at the Alliance Francaise de Manille, Orlina celebrated more than three decades of upholding the luster and value of glass.

“Glass is a very strong material. Before, people only used it for decoration, but I was able to evolve it into an art form,” Orlina told the Varsitarian.

A College of Architecture and Fine Arts graduate in 1965, Orlina moved into greater heights during the mid-70s by becoming the only sculptor in the Philippines and in the whole ASEAN region to successfully apply the cold method of glass sculpting, a process which virtually eliminates cracks.

“Studying Architecture in UST gave me a discipline, from finishing my work on time and dedicating myself to my craft,” Orlina said.

It was these values which gave birth to his exhibit, Glass and Bronze, which showcased larger-than-usual figurines with apt titles such as Mountains Will Bow, Joyous Upliftment, Zenith, and Blue Waves.

The figurines shimmered with rich green and blue hues, an effect caused by the thickness of the medium.

But the lavish colors did not fully dominate the attention of the audience. Equally breathtaking was Orlina’s crystal sculptures such as The General, Dalaga, Diving Bird, the wall-mounted Gran Cordillera, and Orlina’s collection piece Pilita.

These works relied on the crystalline quality of the medium in portraying beauty.

Orlina revealed an amazing effect wherein light was used to show miniscule details in the crystal. This was evident in Gran Cordillera, where the light strengthened the gleam of the sculpture’s crystalline lime color.

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Aside from carving glass and crystals, Orlina also used a more durable medium such as bronze in creating works of art such as Infinity, Lumba Lumba, and Lady in Blue Jeans. But its lack of shine and elegance failed to garner much attention.

Liberated artist

Orlina began his glass sculpting ventures as a glass maker in 1975, after he picked up pieces of scrapped glass and used his tools to cut, grind, and polish the medium into different figures.

“It was all on experimentation,” Orlina said. “I played with the idea of shaping the glass into various shapes and saw the beauty of it.”

He was successful in his first attempt at glass sculpting without the aid of any professional, making his starter years even more commendable.

The idea of studying under an instructor does not appeal to this sculptor, fearing that “he will just imitate everything that his teacher will do” and will not be able to exercise free will in his art.

Likewise, he detests the thought of creating something “mainstream.”

“You cannot teach people how to appreciate art or change how they like it,” Orlina said. “I only cater to my tastes, and I won’t make something that one would like to see me create,” he said.

Aside from sculpting glass, Orlina’s talent extends to the field of painting, revamping old Volkswagen Beetles, welding brass and sculpting other mediums such as metal.

Orlina had also showed his knack for photography with an award-winning photograph of the interior of Hagia Sofia, a Byzantine church that is now a museum in Istanbul.

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“If you are an artist, you must not be limited. You must show how good you really are by being well-rounded,” Orlina said.

These brittle mediums of aesthetic finesse brings glitter to the beholder’s eyes. From left: the delicate-surfaced “A Blissful Union,” the massive “Cornucopia,” the cast bronze “Anna,” the jagged “Zenith,” and the luxurious “Joyous Upliftment,” which raked in 101.5 million. Photos by J.C.A. BASSIG

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