“Mother and Child – Diaphanous Figura No. 8” 1981
Oil on canvas. 81.28 x 60.96 cm; 32 x 24
in Philippine Investment Management (PHINMA) Group
Diaphanous - Figura
Interestingly, this manner of layering light that characterized Olazo’s Mother and Child themes and still lifes of fruit and vegetables are viewed rightly to have prefigured the Diaphanous.
Though it is pointless to argue whether Olazo was consciously influenced by Manasala’s “transparent Cubism.” Still, certain observers have been tantalized into making visual equations and parallelisms. Regard, in particular, the famous “wind” series of Manansala, a multilayered flight of birds, caught, as it were, in a tangle of transparencies, predicated on the disintegration of avian wings, flapping their way into mirage. The sleight-of-hand genius of Manansala is embodied in these ingratiating mirage of light. Olazo would learn these optical lessons from Manansala, fulfilling their possibilities in the Diaphanous.
Indeed not only Olazo, but other painters were seduced by the alluring tension between light and matter. In his Larawan series, first launched in 1972, Benedicto “Bencab” Cabrera explored the formal aesthetics of transparency in his depiction of the feminine attire called baro’t saya. The voluminous sleeves, made of Philippine fabrics like piña and sinamay, were the figurative transcriptions of Olazo’s abstract Diaphanous. The urge to explore light, whether in figuration or abstraction, was mesmeric. In the art of Olazo, transparency was the one nourishing, impelling fascination that brought to fruition his world of illusionist space.
- CID REYES / EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK: ROMULO OLAZO