David Medalla (born 1942) is a Filipino international artist. His work ranges from sculpture and kinetic art to painting, installation and performance art. He lives and works in London, New York City and Paris.
Medalla was born in Manila, the Philippines, in 1942. At the age of 12 he was admitted at Columbia University in New York upon the recommendation of American poet Mark van Doren, and he studied ancient Greek drama with Moses Hadas, modern drama with Eric Bentley, modern literature with Lionel Trilling, modern philosophy with John Randall and attended the poetry workshops of Léonie Adams.
In the late 1950s he returned to Manila and met Jaime Gil de Biedma (the Spanish poet) and the painter Fernando Zóbel de Ayala, who became the earliest patrons of his art. In the 1960s in Paris, the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard introduced his performance 'Brother of Isidora' at the Academy of Raymond Duncan, later, Louis Aragon would introduce another performance and finally, Marcel Duchamp honoured him with a 'medallic' object.
His work was included in Harald Szeemann's exhibition 'Weiss auf Weiss' (1966) and 'Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form' (1969) and in the DOCUMENTA 5 exhibition in 1972 in Kassel.
In the early 1960s he moved to the United Kingdom and co-founded the Signals Gallery in London in 1964, which presented international kinetic art. He was editor of the Signals news bulletin from 1964 to 1966. In 1967 he initiated the Exploding Galaxy, an international confluence of multi-media artists, significant in hippie/counterculture circles, particularly the UFO Club and Arts Lab. From 1974 to 1977 he was chairman of Artists for Democracy, an organisation dedicated to 'giving material and cultural support to liberation movements worldwide' and director of the Fitzrovia Cultural Centre in London.
In New York, in 1994, he founded the Mondrian Fan Club with Adam Nankervis as vice-president.
Between 1 January 1995 and 14 February 1995 David Medalla rented a space at 55 Gee Street, London, in which he lived and exhibited. He exhibited seven new versions of his biokinetic constructions of the sixties (bubble machines; and a monumental sand machine). These machines were constructed after Medalla's original designs, by the English artist Dan Chadwick. The exhibition also featured large-scale prints of his New York 'Mondrian Events' with Adam Nankervis, and five large oil paintings on canvas created by David Medalla in situ at 55 Gee Street. Another important feature was a monumental animated neon relief entitled 'Kinetic Mudras for Piet Mondrian' constructed by Frances Basham using argon and neon lighting after Medalla's original idea and designs. Medalla also invited artists to perform at the space.
David Medalla has lectured at the Sorbonne, the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art of New York, Silliman University and the University of the Philippines, the Universities of Amsterdam and Utrecht, the New York Public Library, Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Canterbury, Warwick and Southampton in England, the Slade School of Fine Art, St. Martin's.
He was the founder and director of the London Biennale in 1998, a “do-it-yourself” free arts festival, which hosts work by Mai Ghoussoub, Mark McGowan, Deej Fabyc, Marko Stepanov, Adam Nankervis, James Moores, Dimitri Launder, Fritz Stolberg, Salih Kayra, Marisol Cavia, and many others.
David Medalla has won awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Jerome Foundation of America. In 2016, he was shortlisted for the inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture.