By Mesha Mendez
To break into Saudi Arabia’s art and culture scene is in itself a difficult feat and yet, to flourish here and internationally, is an accomplishment which only a few talented and dedicated individuals like Mr. Larry E. Carumba can attain.
Mr. Larry Esmolo Carumba was born in the Philippines, Victorias City, Negros Occidental. Being born into a less fortunate family, he had to work to finance his studies. He completed a degree in Business Management. Although his real interest lay in arts, circumstances and their family’s economic status did not allow him to get formal education in this field.
In an aim to help his family, his path led him to work in Saudi Arabia where he has now resided for more than two decades. This was also where he found the chance to explore his passion for the arts. He made good use of his free time and honed his skills in painting. He fearlessly experimented in creating unique concepts and styles. With zeal and determination he then became a self-taught artist.
An Excerpt from his critic:
Joseph Mandia – (Germany)
“His talent is purely a God’s gift. It contributes in understating the rarity of knowledge, the purpose of beauty for his creations. Reminiscent it is, its ingenuity in every piece of arts.
for us to learn a virtue of living this world. In the school of fishes, though swam into different directions, the butterflies and the flock of birds that flaps towards a significant manner, the roses blooms and in colors, vary. In capturing this natures’ beauty imparts a hidden message. Our individual differences makes us uniquely important subject, may it be in every piece within his arts.”
In October 2010, he joined the Real Arts International Art Exhibition at the Holiday Inn in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia. This was a prestigious art exhibition in the Middle East where exhibitors include respectable artists from countries like South Korea, Switzerland, Bahrain, Egypt, Syria and United States. He was the first Overseas Filipino Worker to join and was the only Filipino exhibitor. His talent was not overlooked and his work was admired and applauded by the Saudi and international community. Unknowingly to him, joining this exhibition would prove to be a major move in penetrating the Saudi arts scene. A move not only significant for his career but for the Filipino arts as well, which at this point have tried to penetrate but never thrived in the Middle Eastern region.
Immediately after, he launched his first solo exhibit at the Heritage Gallery of Arabs. To exhibit here was itself an accomplishment, as this gallery was an exclusive gallery for Arabs. But this was just the start of his achievements. Mr. Carumba’s first solo exhibit was a successful 7-day event where art socialites of every nationality were among the buyers of his 30 paintings. This includes Her Royal Highness Princess Ghada Bint Abdullaziz Al Saud who bought a painting during the opening.
Mr. Carumba swiftly thereafter gained the respect of the Kingdom’s as well as the foreign art community. The launch of his every collection is anticipated and never fails to amaze his audience and art critics. His clientele consists of high profile personalities and art elites and his paintings now reside far from where he started – Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Dubai, Jordan, Greece, Australia, USA, UK, South Africa to name a few.
In the years succeeding the first exposure of his work, Mr. Carumba received commendations from various art exhibitions; won numerous awards from prestigious competitions and; received invitations as honorary guest in key art functions – not only in the Saudi Arabia but internationally as well.
Some of his work has been selected as advertising and marketing material of some major companies in Saudi and UAE. He was also invited as an Honorary Guest at the 4th International Art Exhibition at the esteemed King Abdulaziz Science and Technology Research Center in Al Khobar.
Other key accomplishments are:
• People’s Choice Award at the 3rd International Art Exhibition (2011)
• Grand Champion in the Philippine Independence Day Art Exhibition Competition in Al Khobar, KSA (2012)
• Finalist at the New York Art Takes Times Square competition (2012)
• Best in Show Artist of British Aerospace (2013)
• Bagong Bayani for Culture and the Arts Awardee (2014) His most recent achievement was being awarded the Bagong Bayani for Culture and the Arts for 2014. It was awarded to Mr. Carumba as “an acknowledgment of his excellence and unsurpassed performance and continuous quest in promoting Filipino arts globally. He undoubtedly brought pride and distinction to the country as Filipino”.
While Mr. Carumba gives pride to the Philippines through his work, he also aims to hone Filipino artists and bring them together. He actively participates in the Filipino community’s activities, chairs art committees and programs and extends support in whatever way he can especially to the children.
Mr. Carumba’s success is already painted in the Saudi Arts and Culture scene as well as in the international art community. And while his paintings continue to promote Filipino arts where it reaches, his success story serves as an inspiration to Overseas Filipino Workers.