"After a brief stint of painting on glass as two dimensional ground, he marked his debut in 1976 with the massive "ARCANUM XIX" Paradise Gained using prismatic glass as sculptural medium and originally installed at the Silahis International Hotel. From this auspicious beginning up to the present, Orlina has explored and realized the potentials of glass, achieving an integral form but opening up to reveal the dynamics of clearly-defined surface versus mysterious, elusive depths, of structural vis-'-vis maze-like articulations within, of cerebral versus emotional allusions, and of tricky Escher-like forms that tease the eye and mind. The artist's initial affinities with painting were carried over to glass sculpture in his working with lines, tones, and textures that now intimate or reveal spaces within spaces in a breathless unfolding." Alice G. Guillermo, "Thirty years of Dazzling with glass" in Quintessence: Ramon Orlina-30 years of sculpture, Ayala Museum, Manila, 2006.
Whilst it is not uncommon for a sculptor to create a myriad of forms and textures to a solid mass of material such as wood and bronze, it is important to remember that although Orlina considers his solid glass well annealed and relatively strong, it is also a fragile medium that can chip and break if force is applied. Nevertheless the fragility of glass is also the uniqueness of the material as it gives an effervescent and transparent quality unattainable by the others and the sculptor admittedly, is attracted to this very quality as he works on thematic series to best employ his subjects to the effect of different sheen and dazzle at every possible angles.
The sculptor is in the habit of honouring each of his children with a series of works. In chronological order are the Naesa and Ningning series in the 80s, the Anna series in the 90s and the latest Michael' s Martial Art series from the late 90s when the artist is both amused and inspired by his only boy's playful and spontaneous mimicking of Chinese kungfu. This is also a series which pays tribute to the celebrated Taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming whose stylised allusion to the Chinese Martial Art - aichi in wood and bronze has won international acclaim.
The present lot which belongs to Michael's Martial Arts series depicts the bow before the moves, a ceremonious gesture before the strike, it is also a quiet and modest moment before the action that is with an effect no less than an anticipation before a climax.
The deft and sleek angles of the figure compliments the smooth solidity of the glass surface. He seems to emerge spontaneously and in a state of vivacity from the unyielding, imprisoning glass. The result is definite - the figure of Michael becomes the very metaphor for the all-consuming labour involved in glass carving and the difficult transformation of raw matter into a sublime form.