Renato Orara

b. 1961, Philippines
Lives and works in New York

Renato Orara draws discrete objects stripped of context, meaning, and narrative that are the currency of realism to create vessels of ink and energy that push the mind beyond the limits set by language and concepts.

With conceptual roots that go back to his interventions, performance art, and exhibitions on the streets of Manila in the late 70s, Orara took an eight-year hiatus from art-making to practice Zen meditation. Re-emerging in New York in 1989, he resumed his art, this time taking it up as a discipline that mirrored his practice. He filled the blank pages of a book with commonplace objects, layering them with ballpoint ink until they ceased to be about things.

By 1996 his work, ‘Ten Thousand Things That Breathe’ found its way into alternative spaces in Bangkok, Tokyo, and Manila. In 1998 and 1999 he had his first solo exhibitions in the US at the Palo Alto Cultural Center and at Hosfelt Gallery in California.

His exhibition at the Drawing Center in New York (2002) paved the way for inclusion in ‘Initial Encounters’ (2004), a show featuring ten artists selected by Drawing Center curators from a decade of exhibitions at the institution. Both shows ushered in a string of gallery exhibitions in the US (Andrea Rosen Gallery, Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, Gallery Joe, OSP Gallery, Joseé Bienvenu Gallery, Leo Fortuna Gallery) and other parts of the world (the Travelling Gallery, Dominique Fiat Gallery, Alon Segev Gallery, and Silverlens Gallery).

Over time, Orara re-introduced concepts into his work branching out into the following series: ‘Drawer Drawings’, ‘Iraq Memorial’, ‘Bookworks’, and ‘Bloodworks’. His works are in numerous private and public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, and Singapore Art Museum, Singapore.

Biography information from, March 2022

Country: Philippines