Art Capital of the Philippines

Orville Tiamson: Steadfast amid art's turbulence

Rizal-based artist Orville Tiamson. (PINGGOT ZULUETA)
Conversations about pre-ordained fates and pre-destined paths are usually left to the overtly optimistic or the utterly naïve. However, when something is so deeply ingrained in every inch and every fiber of one’s being, there comes a point where believing is the next step in order to progress.

Born and bred in the town of Angono, Rizal, artist Orville Tiamson grew up in an environment that lives and breathes art. “Our whole family is from Angono. So I think the artistic inclination runs in the blood,” Tiamson shares. Having an artist for a father and a musically-inclined mother, Tiamson was in touch with his creativity very early in his childhood. As early as six years old, Tiamson already had memories of his artistic exploits.

While in kindergarten, Tiamson found an attachment to his art, filling his school work with doodles and scribbles rather than numbers and letters. Despite his teacher’s displeasure, Tiamson knew deep inside that this was part of his artistic nature. “I knew that there was something running through my inner thoughts that I want to paint. I wasn’t trained at it, it just came out naturally,” Tiamson recalls.

Having the full support of his parents to pursue his craft, Tiamson plowed his way through primary and secondary school with a drive to pursue a life of artistry. “As long as there is an understanding between parents about what they want their children to be, the support will always be there and that’s very important,” Tiamson says.

Even though there were factors that pulled him towards another direction, it was but logical that he took up painting in college at the University of Santo Tomas. “When I took up painting, I felt that a path was designed for me there,” Tiamson shares.

In an unfortunate turn of events, Tiamson’s father passed away when he was in his third year in college. “I was at an art competition when it happened. When I got back, he was already gone,” Tiamson recalls.

As though wrestling with his inner demons, Tiamson joined the same competition afterwards, this time with favorable results. “I think there was a purpose behind the traumatic experience in joining that particular contest. When I joined that ASEAN painting competition again, it opened doors for me to represent the country abroad,” Tiamson shares.

Fresh from his ASEAN art competition stint, Tiamson rode the euphoria of his success getting invites for group shows from various artists. However, Tiamson found refuge in a space on Estrella Street in EDSA. In the Art Lab, which was then the center of conceptual art in the Philippines, Tiamson let his artistry flourish under the wings of iconic multimedia artists Cesare and Jean Marie Syjuco along with fellow artists Vim Nadera and Sid Hildawa. “What we did back then was not for profit. We believed in our works and our own little things. We just kept working,” Tiamson recalls.

Tiamson’s early images were heavily influenced by Vicente Manansala’s oeuvre. His cubist impressions of social realism suggested a deep attachment to the common Filipino sentiment. Tiamson drew cross sections of reality through technically sound images such as market place scenes and rustic barrio life. His depiction of the low level social strata was made vibrant with the vivid use of colors, giving life to an otherwise despondent disposition.

Constantly re-inventing himself, Tiamson’s cubist figures transcended into a curve linear figurative technique, which seems to capture his subject’s emotions even deeper. Tiamson absorbs the vibe and flow of his subject matter by immersing himself in actual conditions. “I get my images from my experiences and my own personal point of view. If I’m a part of a situation, festivity or any activity, that’s when I can really go all-out on my works,” Tiamson shares.

Tiamson’s profound sense of empathy is evident in his “Batang Kalye” series. The collection is a perspective of the real life situation of street children and their living conditions. Despite the tolls of a work-laden day, Tiamson still captures the fleeting glimpses of childish whim present in his subject’s demeanor. “For this series, I really spent time in the streets. I observed the children and I saw that despite the hard work, you can still see their smiles,” Tiamson shares.

Aside from his figurative works, Tiamson often engages in non-figurative methods to break the monotony of his creativity. “When I get bored, that’s the time when I go to non-figurative drawings which is my abstract paintings,” Tiamson says. Drawing inspiration from his experience in diving, Tiamson’s abstractions portray a dynamic movement of color similar to the perpetual motion of marine wildlife. Tiamson’s pigments depict the blur of movement softened by the light penetrating the water’s surface, while ripples and minor gesticulation are captured by the bold textures he incorporates within his pieces.

Aside from his visual outputs, Tiamson also explores his creativity further through his music and composition. “Whatever I do in my painting, it’s related to my music,” Tiamson says. Although heavily influenced by rock and roll artists such as Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and Juan Dela Cruz Band, Tiamson now finds himself graduating from the aggressive sounds of the 70s and 80s that he grew up with. “What I’m doing right now is self-meditative and it helps me in my creative inputs. I guess I’m starting to mellow down,” Tiamson shares.

Recently stricken by grief, Tiamson has now picked up his artistic creations to once again join his peers in the art scene. Although he admits that things have been rocky during the past years, Tiamson’s dedication to a life of art never wavered and has instead become stronger than ever. “At this point, I’m not just an artist but an artist that has faith that this is what I want to do,” Tiamson says. “There are so many nature of influences around, but it only serves as an inspiration for me,” he adds.
Tiamson’s resolve got him to a stage where his art is already inseparable with his being. “I was really designed to do this kind of work. Because of my commitment, it’s already a part of my life that I can’t take it away anymore,” Tiamson shares. “When I stop painting, that’s the time when I’m no longer breathing.”

Credits to:

Artist Work
By: Bryan B. Garcia
September 5, 2010, 9:34 AM
Manila Bulletin