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Sculptor turns ‘trash’ into art

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Artist Mario “Ram” Mallari, Jr. is a star of the Philippine art scene. He makes sculptures out of discarded metals such as pipes, iron gears, steel bolts, copper wire, engine parts and other metal objects that most people would not find of use. Through Mallari’s skilled hands, and with the help of MaxSell Powertools and Shinsetsu Welding Machine, he turns these junk items into works worthy of being showcased in galleries and homes.

In the Philippines, Mallari, a former overseas worker, is considered a proponent of steampunk, a genre or movement that depicts technology and art inspired by 19th century steam-powered technology. His metal sculptures of lighthouses, steamships and zeppelins are prime examples of the steampunk style.

His choice of material and distinctive touch have earned a following for Mallari. His metal sculptures are collected by athletes, politicians, doctors, directors and celebrities. More so, he is one of the Filipino sculptors to be chosen for a cover feature of the World Sculpture News, a Hong Kong-based art publication circulated in Asia and the US.

Mallari has also contributed to local movies. He is the creator of the prosthetic hand of Dingdong Dantes in Kubot: The Aswang Chronicles and the metal costume worn by Vic Sotto in Enteng Kabisote..

His life has revolved around metal. He shares that he grew up with his grandfather who ran a workshop. He was further exposed with metals when he went to work in Saudi Arabia.

After his overseas stint, Mallari returned to the Philippines to work in the construction industry, doing grill works and installation of steel windows. He turned to making sculptures out of discarded metal for self-expression. What began as just a hobby has moved up into a fulltime and major endeavor.

Mallari often works at least eight hour days, starting early at 7 a.m. He expertly picks out potential materials from the “junk” and creates commissioned pieces and and new works for upcoming exhibits.

His followers will be happy to know that the sculptor has two upcoming international projects that are set to happen in the coming 12 months: an exhibit in Hong Kong and an art-reality show to be aired on an international cable channel.

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