The M pays tribute to cartoonist and national artist Larry Alcala

At the peak of his career, Larry Alcala was a part of every Filipino’s life. Imagine a day in the life of the Philippines: the splashes of bright color caused by jeeps and tricycles passing through the bustling streets of Manila, the chatter of neighborhood gossip outside their homes, children climbing trees and playing wherever they can, and the warmth of the tropical sun illuminating it all. Of all the Filipino artists who have worked with these subjects, perhaps none has been more prodigious or influential for generations to come than Mr. Alcala. The common and endearing subjects and scenes portrayed by Mr. 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 opened at the SMX Convention Center Aura in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig on May 31. The exhibition featured a collection of archival reproductions of Mr. Alcala’s works alongside works in drawing, print and digital media by selected artists influenced by Mr. Alcala, including members of the Ang Illustrador ng organization Kabataan (INK), which is thriving to this day. The exhibit received guidance from award-winning visual communication educator and illustrator, Professor Ruben “Totet” de Jesus of the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Fine Arts.

In the 2018 essay on the occasion of Mr. Alcala’s awarding to the Order of National Artists of the Philippines, Mr. de Jesus wrote that “Filipinos from all levels of society can appreciate art from Alcala. His galleries are the daily newspapers. There is mastery in its simplicity. There are messages in his images. Above all, every Filipino is part of his family.

The exhibition at SMX Aura was complemented by M’s educational and public programs from June to July: a participatory project M Collab, inviting participants aged 18 to 25 to share digital art contributions online “à la Alcala “. M Art Inspires (online chat) featured insights and stories from Professor 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 a storytelling workshop through comics and illustration with the visual artist-designer Manix Abrera.

Larry Alcala: Slices of Life, Wit, and Humor was presented by the Metropolitan Museum of Manila and the Filipino Heritage Festival, Inc., with support from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, in partnership with SM and partner SMX Convention Center Aura. The exhibition was also made possible thanks to the support of the following partners: Business worldDDB Group Philippines, Security Bank and The Manila Times.

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