‘Slices of Life, Wit, and Humor’ exhibit celebrates the legacy of National Artist Larry Alcala

Published June 15, 2022, 2:53 PM

by John Legaspi

The timeliness of Alcala’s observations, candor, and wit through visual form

Known for his work “Slice of Life,” “Siopawman,” and “Mang Ambo,” cartoonist Larry has always highlighted moments in Filipinos’ lives throughout his 56 years in the arts. He was able to create 500 characters and 20 comic strips that also featured Pinoy pop culture and history, which eventually earned him the Order of National Artist in 2018.

Earlier this month, the SMX Convention Center at SM Aura Premier celebrated the visual arts legend’s works through the “Larry Alcala: Slices of Life, Wit, and Humor” exhibition, featuring a collection of archival reproductions of Alcala’s works. This exhibit is held in celebration of the recent National Heritage Month and gave a chance to mallgoers rare opportunity to have a glimpse of the life and works of a National Artist.

‘Masskara Festival ’92’ from Slice of Life by Larry Alcala

Slice of Life ‘Tricycle Territory’ by Larry Alcala

At the height of his career, Alcala was part of every Filipino’s life. Picture a day in the life in the Philippines: the bright pops of color brought on by passing jeeps and tricycles on Manila’s busy streets, the chitter-chatter of neighborhood gossips outside their houses, children climbing trees and playing wherever they can, and the warmth of the tropical sun shining down on all of this. Of all the Filipino artists who worked with these subjects, perhaps none was more prodigious or influential for generations to come than Alcala.

Untitled by Marcus Nada, one of the tribute works dedicated to Alcala

The “Larry Alcala: Slices of Life, Wit, and Humor” exhibit explored Filipino comics and illustrations as popular and enduring art forms that channel humor alongside hard-hitting commentary about Philippine society and is a testament to the endurance and timeliness of Alcala’s observations, candor, and wit through visual form. It also showcased the works in drawing, print, and digital media of selected artists influenced by Alcala, including members of the organization Ang Illustrador ng Kabataan (INK), which thrives to this day.

The exhibition received curatorial guidance from visual communications educator and award-winning illustrator Professor Ruben “Totet” de Jesus of the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Fine Arts. It was made possible through the partnership of The Metropolitan Museum of Manila (M) and the Filipino Heritage Festival Inc. (FHFI), with the support of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and SM.

The exhibition, which ran from May 31 to June 6 at the SMX Aura, was complemented by the M’s education and public programs from June to July, including an M Collab participatory project, inviting 18-25 yo participants to share “à la Alcala” digital art contributions online.

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