Originally from Manila, Philippines, Matt Manalo creates work as a form of an ongoing journal of experiences from his time living in the Philippines in juxtaposition to his life in the United States. He continues to reconcile his old life with his new life in Houston, which is known for being one of the most diverse cities. Manalo states, “As an artist, I was looking for a tangible outlet to express my feelings, memories and newfound experiences.” He is constantly redefining his definition of “home,” while struggling with memories from his homeland and the feeling of being split into two pieces emotionally.
Manalo’s work represents an abstracted image of a specific place or memory from either back home or from his new surroundings in Houston and different cities he has been. The artist incorporates various materials, repetitive marks, shapes, collage, and/or stamped images and scratch marks on his work. They signify the amount of “to and fro” with flashbacks that he has when making a piece. One notable aspect of Manalo’s work is the significant amount of physical or visual texture on the surface, which represents the grittiness of living in a city like Manila.