BAGGING the elusive gold medal has always been the aspiration of the Philippines come Olympic season. But it seems that what the country lacks for athletic prowess, it makes up for excellence in the arts.

Such was attested by Jose “Joe” Datuin, a Thomasian artist whose sculpture entry struck gold in the prestigious 2008 Olympic Sport & Art Contest organized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

“I have been joining a lot of competitions but this is the first time that I literally cried out of joy, considering its grandness,” Datuin told the Varsitarian.

His sculpture, touted as “Dancing Rings,” is a magnificent tubular stainless-steel art piece that placed first and won $30,000 after besting 61 entries from 36 countries in the Olympic contest.

Entries from Malaysia and Georgia placed second and third respectively.

Datuin’s design concept is based from Dancing Beijing, the official emblem for the Olympics. It resembles a dancing Chinese calligraphy figure which also looks like the body of a wriggling dragon.

In a parallel manner, Datuin’s sculpture resembles a dancing athlete and a wriggling dragon playing around a ball, indicating China as the host.

“During the conceptualization process, I saw the connection between Beijing’s emblem and my current project, which is about ballerinas,” Datuin said. “So I decided to play around with the logo of the Olympics with the rings doing all the kinetics.”

The sculpture’s elements include the five Olympic rings (five continents) and a ball in the middle, which signifies this year’s Olympic motto: “One World, One Dream”

What makes the sculpture stand out is that it deviates from the traditional Olympic logo. Datuin’s treatment of the sculpture is that of fluidity and dynamism, as seen in the ascending rings dancing afloat on air.

Kapatiran sa ROTC

“I was informed of the contest a little over a week before the deadline,” Datuin said. “So I had to work on the sculpture in such a short span of time.”

But that didn’t stop the artist from creating a masterpiece. After the initial screening by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), the “Dancing Rings” emerged as the local jury’s choice in the sculpture category to represent the Philippines in the international level.

Meanwhile, an oil-on-canvas art piece by Iloilo-based Edward Colmo, titled “Dreams for Goals,” was chosen for the graphic arts category. It also won a diploma after being adjudged Highly Recommended (runner-up) by the international jury.

Datuin’s and Colmo’s works are now being exhibited at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the IOC headquarters is located. The art pieces will also be displayed at the Olympic Expo in Beijing in time for the summer Olympics this August.

Second breeze

Datuin is an Olympic medalist twice over since he had already won in the 1980 Moscow Olympic’s Poster Design Competition, where he bested 6,000 participating artists from all over the world.

He was also a gold medalist during the 1982 Unesco International Calendar Design Competition in France.

In 2003, Datuin was awarded the first Gawad President Manuel L. Quezon and the Huwarang Pilipino for Arts and Culture Award in 2004.

Even before becoming world-class, Datuin’s pursuit for excellence in the arts thrived since his school days, where he was a regular in art competitions.

After earning his Advertising Arts degree at the then UST College of Architecture and Fine Arts (CAFA), where he also received a Benavides Award, in 1977, he became an industrial designer at the Design Center Philippines with National Artist for the Visual Arts Arturo Luz as his mentor.

CCWS launches Tomas

From 1978 to 1985, he was a faculty member of UST CAFA, where he furthered his acumen under the tutelage of great artists like the late Cenon Rivera and another National Artist for the Visual Art J. Elizalde Navarro.

He also became art director of media giant ABS-CBN, where he designed logos, media sets, and ad campaigns, which harnessed visual influence over millions of Filipino viewers.

Datuin’s advocacy lies on promoting contemporary Filipino art in the country and abroad. He has staged several exhibits in galleries, museums, embassies and consulates.

In late 2004, he had a one-man exhibit at the Philippine Center in New York City. He also had a very significant exhibit at the UST Beato Angelico Gallery in 2005—the first alumnus to respond to the prodding of curator Mary Ann Bulanadi to Thomasian artists to display their artworks.

Datuin’s exhibit aimed at inspiring art students with his craft, not to mention his success, which shows no signs of stopping.

Just recently, he was chosen to be the recipient of The Outstanding Thomasian Alumni Award for Visual Arts, which he will receive early August.

“I’ve always wanted to be an artist of the world,” said Datuin. “Being a Thomasian helped me through that for I believe Thomasians are indeed world-class.” Juanito Alipio A. de la Rosa


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