The Legacy of David Medalla

January 04, 2021

Most of us might not know David Medalla but he has contributed greatly to both the Philippine and international art scenes.

David Medalla’s recent passing is a great loss not just in the local but in the international art scene as well. For those who are not in the know, David Medalla was a Filipino artist whose work is recognized globally. 

David Medalla with the Cloud Canyons No. 31 sculpture behind him
David Medalla when he visited the BDO Corporate Center in Ortigas during the inauguration of his Cloud Canyons No. 31 sculpture on August 31, 2019

The Legacy of David Medalla

    Medalla's work encompasses several media, which included installations, kinetic art (a form of art that features perceivable movement which Medalla pioneered), painting, participatory and performance art, and sculpture. As such, Medalla was considered a distinctive figure in arts. 

    A life dedicated to the arts 

    At the young age of 14, Medalla attended Columbia University to study Greek and Modern Drama, Literature, Philosophy, and Poetry. 

    He has held shows and art exhibitions, and had some of his works displayed in New York, USA; Paris, France; Kassel, Germany; and London, United Kingdom. Likewise, he has lectured in several top universities here and abroad. 

    Perhaps one of Medalla’s most iconic and recognized works is the “Cloud Canyons” which are, in fact, bubble machine installations. 

    These bubble machines are powered by pumps that feed soap bubbles through different columns. The result is continuously and automatically forming, shifting, and changing “sculpture.” It’s indeed one of the best representations of modern art. 

    Because of his many contributions to art, David Medalla received accolades from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Jerome Foundation of America. He was also "shortlisted" for the inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture in 2016. 

    David Medalla was born on March 23, 1942, and died on December 28, 2020. He spent most of his time in his home in London, United Kingdom. 

    David Medalla's life is honored by BDO 

    Locally, top Philippine bank BDO Unibank honored the legacy of David Medalla. For those who want to view a sample of David Medalla’s work, his sculpture, “Cloud Canyons No. 31,” is displayed at the lobby of BDO’s Corporate Center in Ortigas (CCO). 

    “Cloud Canyons No. 31” found its way to BDO’s CCO for bank employees, clients, and visitors to enjoy in 2019. 

    Before coming home to the Philippines, Cloud Canyons No. 31 was exhibited in the Hepworth Wakefield art museum in England when Medalla was one of the shortlisted artists for the inaugural Hepworth Wakefield Prize for Sculpture in 2016. It is made of Plexiglas tubes, wood, fiberglass, water, soap, and oxygenators, and is part of a series often referred to as the “bubble machines.” 

    “David Medalla was magnetic. He lived a life that drew people in while he himself could not be contained. He left the world with stories so wild and infinite they can never all be told,” said Mara Coson, who oversees the BDO Art Collection 

    “Medalla was born in Manila in 1942, with literary and visual genius uniquely attributable only to his bright spirit. His biography is too vast for a short note and is kept alive by the many who encountered him along with his life’s adventures, strangers and friends, periods from explorations of kinetic art in the 1960s and beyond to performances anywhere, and travel whether physical or otherwise. He spent his life around the world, at home everywhere, yet still, his home was the Philippines, where he died peacefully,” Coson added. 


    BDO is welcoming the public to view and appreciate David Medalla’s Cloud Canyons No. 31. In a way, it’s a way of keeping David Medalla’s memory alive. 

    “More than ever, we must make sure the bubbles of Cloud Canyons No. 31 continue endlessly and fully in our care—and most of all, welcome to the public to experience these clouds for always. We will do Medalla proud. When you visit the bubble machine, I encourage you to take a moment to wish David the best for his next life, as he dances with ease among the brightest galaxies,” Coson concluded. 

    The life and works of art of David Medalla

    *With information from Wikipedia
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    1. Oooh, he's a contemporary artist! I went looking for photos of his Cloud Canyons 31, hihi. His paintings are awesome, too. I'd love to see an exhibit of all his works.

    2. RIP to Mr. David Medalla.Hoping one day i can witness his signature work contemporary art, “Cloud Canyons” - such a historic piece.

    3. I heard about him during my college days. He is a true Filipino artist who dedicated his life to cultivate and enrich our Filipino culture through his art.

    4. He's a legend in the arts community not only in the Philippines but also internationally!

    5. Such an amazing recognition and huge respect to his works. Does he had any protégé?

    6. His works sounds super fascinating and im sure the real deal is better than whatever im imagining. So glad that bdo recognized him for his talent!

    7. I hope that BDO can also give a showing virtually for these cloud canyons. I am happy that he got recognitions and got to enjoy them before he passed away <3

    8. Sana national artist din ano? I dont know him until now. But i learned a lot. Id definitely google cloud crayon after this

    9. Hyun Jang Nim8 May 2022 at 03:22

      i don't know him, i am glad that because of your blog i was able to know such a great man with many contributions to arts. i love bdo's way of keeping David Medalla’s memory alive.

    10. カマネーロ アップルジョイ8 May 2022 at 03:22

      Yay ! Ngayon ko lang po siya nkilala isa rin pla siya sa mgaling na artist . Super nkakahanga tlga ang mga artist .. thankyou for shring this po 😊❤️

    11. Rowena callo Villareno8 May 2022 at 03:22

      Thank you po sa pag share nito ngayon makikilala na po namin sya😊galing talaga ng mga artist nakaka proud po❤️

    12. Wow. Ngayon ko lang talaga nalaman ang tungkol sa kanya. Thanks for sharing po at I am sure marami pang mga Filipino artists ang hindi ko masyado alam. Haha I def need to read. 😂

    13. Thank you po! I'm glad to know that you got to know David Medalla through this blog.