Larry Alcala: Slices of Life, Wit, and Humor

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At the height of his career, Larry Alcala was part of every Filipino’s life. Picture a day in the life in the Philippines: the bright pops of color brought on bypassing jeeps and tricycles on Manila’s busy streets, the chitter-chatter of neighborhood gossip outside their houses, children climbing trees and playing wherever they can, and the warmth of the tropical sun shining down on all of this. Of all the Filipino artists who worked with these subjects, perhaps none was more prodigious or influential for generations to come than Larry Alcala.

The common and endearing subjects and scenes portrayed by Alcala are a fitting celebration and offering for National Heritage Month, with its theme “PAMANANG LOKAL: Binhi ng Kulturang Pilipino.”

Larry Alcala: Slices of Life, Wit, and Humor opens at the SMX Convention Center Aura in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig on May 31, Tuesday. The exhibition features a collection of archival reproductions of Alcala’s works alongside works in drawing, print, and digital media of selected artists influenced by Larry Alcala, including members of the organization Ang Illustrator ng Kabataan (INK), which thrives to this day.

The exhibition received curatorial guidance from visual communications educator and award-winning illustrator Professor Ruben “Totet” de Jesus of the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Fine Arts. In the 2018 essay for the occasion of Alcala’s conferment to the Order of National Artists of the Philippines, de Jesus writes that “Filipinos from all levels of society can appreciate Alcala’s art. His galleries are the dailies. There is mastery in his simplicity. There are messages in his images. Most of all, every Filipino is part of his family.”

The exhibition at the SMX Aura is complemented by the M’s education and public programs from June to July: an M Collab participatory project, inviting 18-25yo participants to share “à la Alcala” digital art contributions online. M Art Inspires (online conversation) on 04 June will feature insights and stories from Prof. de Jesus, visual artist-illustrator Aldy Aguirre, and writer-speaker Carl Javier. At the end of June, we invite young artists to join our M Online Studio Studies with storytelling through comics and illustration workshop with visual artist-cartoonist Manix Abrera.

Larry Alcala: Slices of Life, Wit, and Humor opens on May 31 with a special reception at 4:00 P.M., and will be on view until June 6 at Function Hall 1, SMX Convention Center Aura, SM Aura Premier, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. The exhibition is presented by the Metropolitan Museum of Manila and Filipino Heritage Festival, Inc., with support from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, in partnership with SM and venue partner SMX Convention Center Aura. The exhibition is also made possible with the support of the following partners: BusinessWorld, DDB Group Philippines, Security Bank, The Manila Times, and the family of National Artist Larry Alcala.

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Featured photo: Self-Portrait of Larry Alcala courtesy of Prof. Ruben de Jesus

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