Shedding light to the “beautifully grotesque and grotesquely beautiful”— the marginalized members of the Filipino culture, the denizens of Sampaloc and Ermita, Manila’s red light and entertainment district. Olmedo draws from the dark and dramatic realms of a fantastic nightmare in a figurative-expressionist manner focused on creating forms filled with depth and significance to portray the inner torment experienced by a modern man. Posing a disturbing but ennobling effect on the audience, his paintings celebrates the human spirit’s triumph in the face of excruciating pain and suffering.
A major artist of the 20th century, it is fate that led Onib Olmedo to leave his twelve-year career in architecture and shift into painting in 1970. Along with Solomon Saprid and Ang Kiukok, they established the Filipino Expressionist movement. As an established artist, Olmedo garnered major awards from the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Art Association of the Philippines, Mobil Oil Philippines and the Manila City government. It was in 1992 that the artist etched the name of the Philippines in the international arena when two of his ink wash paintings won at the International Exposition de Paintres at Cagnes Sur Mer, France — the very first Filipino to be given such distinction. But among all awards and distinctions received, the most significant for Olmedo was when the general public showed adulation for his work, proving that he had succeeded in his goal to raise art consciousness to a level that goes beyond appreciation of paintings for solely its beauty.