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And that was 2023: Ramon Orlina reveals priceless cars

2024 will see the construction of unique Art Car Museum to house the iconic vintage vehicles turned into art by the top sculptor and his prominent artist friends

Foremost glass sculptor and vintage car collector Ramon Orlina with his 1996 PORSCHE 911 993 Carrera, merger of car design technology and art (All photos and videos by EJ Bonagua)

The last quarter of 2023, October, gave us a foretaste of what’s to come from the country’s foremost sculptor Ramon Orlina when he mounted his Art Car exhibit at SM Aura featuring five priceless vintage cars from his collection, which have been turned into art canvases by some of the country’s leading artists, his friends led by National Artist BenCab.

The brief weekend exhibit was a preview of the Art Car Museum that will open at the Museo Orlina in Tagaytay City in the near future. Museo Orlina is already a most popular destination in Tagaytay.

Orlina’s passion for collecting cars, notably the Volkswagen Beetle, is quite known in the art circle. He’s been collecting since 1988, starting with the Beetle. In this interview with TheDiarist.ph, this architect and glass sculptor recalled that his first car in 1965 was a Beetle, thus the sentimental attachment to the car.

Years later, by then in demand for his sculpture, Orlina was commissioned by BMW to paint art on a model. Hereon he leveled up his passion for collecting cars into art car, turning into each priceless vintage model into a canvas and in a way, an art installation. “Each car has its own story,” he tells TheDiarist.ph interview.

The soon-to-rise Art Car Museum is meant to be a “testament to the boundless creativity and artistic vision” of Orlina, according to the Museum’s statement on the plan. “This avant-garde structure serves as a canvas for Orlina’s dream of merging art with automotive design, breathing life into the concept of art on wheels.”

It will be a gallery of cars turned into automotive works of art, by Orlina himself and a few of his artist friends, all of which are  owned and have been fully restored by Orlina.

Museum visitors will see the artistic evolution of each art car, from concept to completion, each a story of creativity and innovation, a marriage of art and automotive design.

The art cars on exhibit at SM Aura in October 2023, to be seen in the near future at the Museo Orlina’s Art Car Museum (excerpted from press information):

‘Sabel’ Beetle by BenCab, with hand sculpture by Danny de la Cruz (Photos by EJ Bonagua)

1974 Super Beetle 1303 S
Sabel sa Beetle

The 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle 1303 S holds a special place in automotive history as the final evolution of the iconic Volkswagen Beetle.

There masters collaborated on the making of this art car into a statement piece. The bold brush strokes are by National Artist BenCab, who rendered his iconic muse “Sabel” in spontaneous rhythmic strokes.

The metal dashboard is crafted masterfully by sculptor Daniel Dela Cruz, providing an extra “hand” on the steering wheel.

The final touch is an intricate glass sculpture by Ramon Orlina himself, a significant behind the back passenger seat.

1996 PORSCHE 911 993 Carrera

Janis Joplin-inspired 993 series   ( 2022)

Janis Joplin’s 1956 Porsche 356 Cabriolet became an iconic symbol of the 1960s counterculture. This handpainted distinctive artwork reflected the spirit of the era and its freedom of expression—a statement of individuality and creativity, much like Joplin’s music.

Orlina first saw Janis Joplin’s famous car in a musical movie Across the Universe about 10 years ago, and since then he has been attracted to this unique and colorful mural of psychedelic designs and symbols.

In 2022 Orlina created his own version on a 1996 Porsche 911 993 Carrera with unique details that are significant to him.

2007 BMW 645i      

Embellished with Orlina glass  (2023)

BMW has played a central role in commissioning well-known artists around the world, such as Hockney and Calder, to create “rolling sculptures” that are now exhibited in museums.  In 2007 Orlina was commissioned by BMW to create an art car on a miniature model of the BMW 645i.

The BMW 645i is a marvel of modern design and engineering, boasting sleek lines and a powerful engine.  Orlina saw it as a blank canvas to be transformed into a sculpture in motion. The vision was  to create a car that would evoke the same sense of wonder and contemplation as his glass sculptures.

Finally, in 2023 Orlina was able to replicate the design on a 2007 BMW 645i car that he acquired. It is in vibrant red base color embellished with iconic Orlina glass details. It challenged the traditional boundaries of what a car could be, blurring the line between conventional monotony and distinctive art expression.

 

1970 FIAT 124 SPYDER

The 1970 Fiat 124 Spyder is an iconic Italian sports car dating to the 1960s. The design is sleek  and timeless, with elongated hood, circular headlights, and a distinctive front  grille. The convertible top is easily lowered or raised, perfect to enjoy the wind and sunny days. This Orlina Art Car reflects the vibrant colors of the summer of the 1970s.

Orlina did not make a compromise on the restoration that took many years, using all original parts that had to be imported.

Ramon Orlina and Marcel Antonio

 

1974 Super Beetle 1303 S
Moon Buggy

This 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle 1303 was painstakingly restored by Orlina who then commissioned well-known painter Marcel Antonio to render his distinctive style of figurative painting with an interesting narrative.

Marcel explains, “In Greek mythology, Selene is the goddess of the moon who falls deeply in love with a mortal named Endymion. Captivated by his beauty, Selene asks Zeus to grant Endymion eternal youth so that he will never age or die. Zeus agrees but with a condition: Endymion must remain in eternal sleep. Selene visits him every night, watching over him as he sleeps, and it is said that she bore him 50 daughters. The myth encapsulates themes of love, beauty, and the tragic implications of immortality.”


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