Malang’s artwork is distinguished by a rigorous concern with pictorial structure, spatial illusion, and relationships of forms. Malang believed that abstract art was a way to get at the important reality — the ability to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may be seen.
Malang avoided to integrate the festively dressed woman, the densely voluptuousness of the flowers and the abstracted/Cubist earthscape into one great natural whole. Yet Malang was interested in the structural relationship between the woman and its side by side integration with the flowers and the abstracted landcape, a masterpiece of artistic harmonies.
Malang’s work suggests a peculiar rhythm to life and place, slow, almost still, yet it is easily accessible to the viewer. In this hemmed-in world, there is an emphasis on the vegetation, his large and billowing clustered flowers and trees seem to overwhelm or get the attention from the other key visual elements.
Working in a sensitively economical style and with a dazzling sense of drama and space, Malang treats the viewer to charming details. Malang’s oeuvre showed that he cannot be wholly abstract, in the sense of a non-objective or non-representational work of art, it follows that he did not so much abstract from the actual as what had previously been real only as a passionate apprehension.
The art of Malang celebrates everyday life, rural folk and the fiesta spirit, and his abstractions of Filipino women sans the lugubriousness that other artists would rather add in depicting common folk. In the provincial universe that was Malang’s, the tradition of a poetic world outlook did not clash with the acute sense of life’s imperfections.
In this picture, he changed natural proportions to fit the needs of the composition and welded the simplified planes of the earthscape into the picture space. The woman depicted reveals many sides to Malang’s Cubist expression by her awkwardly elegant vitality and tendencies toward exaggeration and angularity. Malang’s depiction of women is representative of his countless icons of an idee fixe, a woman from among the common folk, usually with an elegantly long neck.
Everything in the abstracted woman is recognizable but everything is also out of place or reconstructed into new forms of reality. Reality which is not in appearance alone but reality which is felt, imagined, and thought of. The composition displays a favorite device: a clustering of hemmed forms stuck end-to-end, projecting a light-hearted festiveness. It is all so very whimsical.
Such spatial provisions manage to give his filled in spaces a compact appearance, trim, and square at the edges, and to avoid the congested look of wretched excess that leads to instant glut.
Familiar themes have recurred over and over again in Malang’s paintings as much as Picasso shifted to and from his familiar subjects: the woman and the minotaur; or how Josef Albers paid homage to the square almost all his life; or how Kenneth Noland has practically done nothing but color chevrons; or how Robert Motherwell sang elegies to the Spanish Republic a hundred times over. In the same vein that these famous artists have used their singular themes to make their artistic statements, the recurring themes of Malang have served him in holding his own. After all, originality is but saying or combining old things in a new way.