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David Medalla

  • CountryPhilippines
  • Born1942


David Medalla is a visual artist born in Manila, the Philippines.

During the 1960s, David Medalla alongside Paul Keeler, Gustav Metzger, Guy Brett and Marcello Salvadori held a shared vision to create spaces for modern, experimental artists to meet, test out ideas and show work. Out of this, Signals London (their showroom on Wigmore Street) was born. In tandem, Medalla edited the Signals journal which covered their exhibitions and also featured poetry, critical essays, scientific digests and experimental art news. 

Medalla founded the London Biennale in 2000 and collaborated with Adam Nankervis to form The Mondrian Fan Club. A forerunner in land art, kinetic art, participatory art and live art, he also made sculptures, installations and paintings. 

In 1995, Iniva showed The Secret History of the Mondrian Fan Club II, an exhibition of Medalla’s work including seven new versions of his 1960s bio-kinetic constructions. Two years later, Iniva commissioned Medalla and three other artists to take part in Quality of Light, a site-specific project in St. Ives. In 2017 Black Artists and Modernism (BAM) organised a Study Day at Iniva with a focus on Medalla’s work. 

Cloud Canyons No. 3: An Ensemble of Bubble Machines (Auto Creative Sculptures) (1961, remade 2004) held at Tate Modern is an example of Medalla’s kinetic work formed from wooden boxes and a central plastic tube which creates and ejects a jet of bubbles into moving, cloud-like clusters. For the 2016 The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture shortlist, he made two new auto-creative sculptures: one, a new version of his seminal work Cloud Canyons (1964–2016); the other, Sand Machine, Bahagari (1963–2016), a moving work comprising sand, shell, necklace and bamboo. Like many of his works these exist in a constant state of flux, giving – in the words of the artist – ‘tangible form to invisible forces’. 

Important group exhibitions featuring Madella’s work include How Art Became Active: 1960 to Now at Tate Modern (2016); Other Primary Structures at The Jewish Museum, New York (2014); Art Turning Left: How Values Changed Making 1789-2013, Tate Liverpool (2013 – 14); Thresholds, TRAFO, Szczecin (2013); When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013, Fondazione Prada, Venice (2013); Une exposition parlée, Jeu de Paume, Paris, France (2013); Migrations, Tate Britain, London (2012). 

He has participated in the 57th Venice Biennale (2017); the 8th Asian Pacific Triennale, Brisbane (2015); the 9th Mercosul Biennial, Porto Alegre (2013); the 16th Sydney Biennial, Sydney (2008); Performa 07, New York (2007); and the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale (1998). 

David Medalla lives and works between London, New York City, and Paris.

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