Behind the Iconic “Quattromondial”, a sculpture made out of bronze and glass which was made in celebration of UST’s 400th year, was a renowned glass sculptor and architect named Ramon Orlina, an alumnus from the College of Architecture and Fine Arts (now two separate colleges, College of Architecture and College of Fine Arts and Design).
Before becoming a sculptor, Orlina worked as an architect until 1974 where he decided to venture on arts and crafts. Drawing from his experience as an architect, Orlina saw a great potential to transform glasses to sparkling emeralds because at that time, glasses were not mostly used as canvases and he thought these are good materials to express his visual imagery.
Thence, he attended seminars and industrial exhibits to learn what tools to use on which type of glass. He manipulates all glass materials from cullets to blocks to craft sharp edges that will create various angles. He etches some figures and leave some parts polished and smoothen. The illusion created by the interplay of light in the prisms and dimensions of the crystal tickles and intensify the viewer’s imagination.
What is fascinating and unique about his work is that his sculptures are multi-dimensional with no front and back orientation. With this, viewers may have several interpretations beyond Orlina’s intended artistic message.
The reputation of the multi-awarded sculptor has been recognized in several countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, USA, Czech Republic and Slovakia (Former Czechoslovakia). In 1999, Orlina’s piece “Silvery moon”, a white optical glass sculpture, won the Mr. F Prize in the prestigious Toyamura International Sculpture Bienale in Hokkaido, Japan. His Mr. F Prize award marked the peak of his beginning career.
He represented the Philippines in various international competitions and exhibits such as XVII Grand Prix Internationale D’ Arte Contemporaine de Monte Carlo in 1977; the Bienale Internationale de Arte, Valparaiso, Chile in 1987; the Suntory Prize Exhibition, Japan in 1994; the Toyamura International Sculpture Biennale, Japan in 1995 , the 9th Asian International Art Exhibition, Taipeh, 1994; the Osaka Sculpture Triennale, Japan in 1992 and 1995. He was awarded in 1993 the ASEAN Awards for Visual Arts conferred by the ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (COCI) in Brunei, and in 1994 the 3rd ASEAN Achievement Awards for Visual Arts from the ASEAN Business Forum in Kuala Lumpur.
Aside from crafting glass sculptures, Orlina transforms automobiles into artworks as a hobby. Through a custom-made paint work of their chosen artist, he revolutionizes his clients’ cars.
In 2011, his entry Mondrian-inspired Volvo car was cited as the Best Mural of the Show in the Manila Auto Salon exhibit. The exhibited car has grid paintings defined by black straight lines filled with white, red, yellow and blue colors, a modern style from which Dutch artist Piet Mondrian have been known for.
Ramon Orlina’s motivation of following his own direction, without copying anyone and discovering the potentials of glass in arts surely paved his way to shine. He surely found his spotlight from being an architect to an atelier and a-talyer (automotive shop).