Published October 09, 2020
Not to be put down to any particular style, artist Bjorn Calleja approaches each exhibit differently, always looking for ways to surprise himself and viewers. However, in recent years, Calleja has been repeatedly working with fleshy, awkward-looking characters as a concept, a toy to play with and remix among the other building blocks for his paintings and sculptures.
These characters are rendered cartoonishly and clay-like, deliberately goofy or ugly. At times staring back at the viewer, their expressions and form brings to mind the proverbial idiot, perhaps a Homer Simpson, a Mad Magazine character. Emerging from holes, engaging in daily activities, hidden in plain sight, playing among abstract pops, splooshes, and brushstrokes, you have to observe Calleja’s paintings closely to really see them. They are the community of gremlins, pranksters, squatters living in his current images. With their presence, each of Calleja’s pieces become an object of laughter, amusement, or surprise, upending the artistic traditions we take so seriously.
Bjorn Calleja is a Filipino contemporary artist whose work draws on identity, kitsch, popular culture, art, politics, history, and his own life, installations, video, and design. His works are influenced by 80’s and 90’s popular culture, including Manila’s landscape. In 2012, Calleja co-founded Design. Other Things, a design studio based in Manila and is currently a part time lecturer at the Far Eastern University (FEU). Recently, he auctioned off his artworks for COVID-19 relief efforts.
Source: Bjorn Calleja
Images: Bjorn Calleja