The Life and Art of David Medalla

Title: Print


The Life and Art of David Medalla
Edited by Purissima Benitez-Johannot

This is the first truly international and collaborative survey of the singular oeuvre of David Medalla, an artist who defies convention, classification, or national identification, and whose work encompasses visual, kinetic, performance, conceptual, participatory, and avant-garde art. While he was born in Manila, Philippines, and has travelled around the world, it was in London where he found himself at the center of several landmark artistic movements over the last fifty years, even as the British art establishment has been reluctant to recognize him.

Art scholar Purissima Benitez-Johannot delves into Medalla’s early years and the position he occupies within the cultural context of the Philippines, the UK, and the international art world. Critic Guy Brett meditates on what it means for an artist to be simultaneously global, collaborative, and ephemeral; Adam Nankervis reveals the stories behind his collaborations with Medalla; while Isobel Whitelegg writes on the artist’s affinity with transnational artists Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica. Also included is an extensive interview with Medalla as well as a timeline of his major milestones.


...[Medalla] remains, as a French art critic once described him, “the marginal artist par excellence.”…it seems a kind of self-exile, a refusal or maybe inability to stick to a categorizable stlye, or stay a restless mind. I suspect that for Medalla, his own unusual life is his favorite invention—that, like Wilde or Firbank or Jarry, he is his own best work of art.

—John St. Rausbaugh
The Flying Mondrians: David Medalla’s Impossible Art
New York Press, 25-31 May 1994



© 2012

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