Matt Manalo was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. He received his Bachelors of Fine Arts in Painting and Minor in Art History at the University of Houston.
Manalo creates work which involves elements of painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, and printmaking. He uses raw materials, making his practice environmentally conscious as well as understanding the idea of scarcity and abundance. He uses the grid as a foundation for most of his work to tackle geography, cartography, borders, and the idea of displacement while having a constant conversation of how “home” should be defined. Being a first generation immigrant, Manalo discusses his experiences navigating around the physical and social structures of society through his work. As he explores this, home becomes a two-part environment where the artist is split between the Philippines and Texas. The latter sits on the southern border of the US. It is also important to mention that colonization of the Philippines by Spain, Japan and the United States resulted in erasure, colorism and colonial mentality; a frequent topic in Manalo’s work.
His work was recently seen in the exhibition, Carriers: The Body as a Site of Danger and Desire, Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, Texas curated by Tyler Blackwell and Steven Matijcio and he is included in the 2021 Texas Biennial: A New Landscape/ A Possible Horizon curated by Evan Garza and Ryan Dennis. Manalo is the founder of Filipinx Artists of Houston and runs an alternative art space called the Alief Art House.