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The first major international exhibition dedicated to the work of the Filipino artist, poet and activist.

David Medalla: Parables of Friendship is the first major international exhibition dedicated to the work of the Filipino artist, poet and activist David Medalla since his sudden passing in December 2020. Presented by Museion together with the Bonner Kunstverein, which hosted the exhibition until 30 January 2022, and in close collaboration with the David Medalla Archive in Berlin, the exhibition recounts the vital legacy, spirit, energy and radical nature of the artist’s work.

Drawings, paintings, collages, sculptures, neon, kinetic and participatory artworks, and performances produced in a career spanning over seventy years: alongside important loans and new commissions, Museion will be showing many previously unseen works and some fragile works, restored for the occasion and presented to the public for the first time, in an exhibition – curated by Steven Cairns and Fatima Hellberg and an installation design by the Michael Kleine Studio – that promises to be a milestone in the study of the work of this renowned, eclectic artist.

Medalla’s work, characterized by an unbridled freedom of expression, explores the possibilities of exchange and intersection between art and life, mixing major contemporary themes such as ecology, cultural identity, sexuality and work ethics, with no concern whatsoever for the compartmentalisation that society imposes. A dandy and traveler, after arriving in Marseille from Manila, in the 1960s Medalla lived in London, Paris, Venice, Berlin, New York and Manila, including his experiences of travel and transition in his work, that is often ephemeral, transient and made from found materials, that further indicate the free spirit of his art.

Strongly influenced by 19th and 20th century European art and literature, and an active figure in Swinging London, Medalla was instrumental in the brief but pioneering experience of London’s Signals Gallery (1962-64), the experimental performance collective, The Exploding Galaxy (1967-68) and the politically engaged, Artists for Democracy, of which he was president (1974-1977). In collaboration with the artist Adam Nankervis (1994) he founded The Mondrian Fan Club and the London Biennale (2000), where processes of collaboration and exchange continued to take center stage.

As the title suggests, Parables of Friendship comprises both social engagement and transcendence, the two main characteristics of Medalla’s art. The diversity of his tireless production and his continuous search for connections reveal a search for the “oneness of the whole” through differences, and a deeply experiential and sentimental relationship with being. His work reflects paradoxes and traumas that are part of cultural identity, an identity that for him remains a multi-temporal and multi-directional process.


David Medalla: Parables of Friendship
curated by Steven Cairns and Fatima Hellberg
installation design by Michael Kleine

The exhibition has been created in collaboration with the Bonner Kunstverein and the David Medalla Archive, Berlin, and is funded by the Federal Foundation for Culture, the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media.

A volume on David Medalla’s work, published by Museion and Bonner Kunstverein, will be published by Koenig Books in spring 2022. Editors: Steven Cairns, Fatima Hellberg and Bart van der Heide

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