b. 1991, South Africa

Callan Grecia Biography

South African contemporary artist Callan Grecia creates figurative paintings that bridge the divide between art history and the internet age. Grecia lives and works in George in South Africa's Western Cape.

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Early Years

Grecia was born and raised in Durban, growing up in a Hindu family. In 2017, he graduated with an MFA in painting from Rhodes University, Grahamstown.

Callan Grecia Artworks

Grecia's futuristic geometric paintings synthesise classical and art historical references. He has cited a range of artistic influences, including Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Kehinde Wiley, Kerry James Marshall, and Wilhelm Sasnal—as well as pop cultural influences including hip hop, fashion, consumerism, and photography.

Grecia's brightly saturated paintings are executed primarily in acrylic on canvas, but the artist has also used media such as paper, crayon, duct tape, spray paint, and glue. A skilled draughtsperson, Grecia has used blind contour sketches as foundations in his works.

A Percy Shelly Poem For Rome

Grecia has attempted to subvert aspects of Western academic art and history by incorporating classical references that simultaneously pay homage to, and disparage, the canon. This is seen in the painting A Percy Shelly Poem For Rome (2021), which depicts a bust of Julius Caesar with a knife in his back, executed in Grecia's signature cartoonish style.

Transcending Time

By integrating historic, contemporary, and futuristic elements, Grecia aims to make paintings that transcend time and categorisation. The artist has even dated works far into the future—reflecting years such as '2030' or '20201'. Though parallels have been drawn between Grecia's style and that of Pop art, Surrealism, Art Deco, or Cubism, Grecia's works embody a unique visual language that combines figurative, digital, and painterly aesthetics.

Identity

In his practice, Grecia has reflected on South Africa's preoccupation with consumerism and 'Rainbow Nationism' (referring to the multiculturalism of post-apartheid South Africa), as well as his own experience as a gender-fluid person of colour.

Collections

Grecia's work is held in the collection of Durban Art Gallery.

Exhibitions

Callan Grecia has been the subject of both solo and group exhibitions.

Select solo exhibitions include Hyporealism, SMAC Gallery, Stellenbosch (2022); Cosmic Disco, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town (2021); Laps Around the Sun, SMAC Gallery, Cape Town (2021); These Aesthetics Art Not New, Rhodes University Somerset Gallery, Grahamstown (2017); and BLACK MIRROR, The Albany Natural Science Museum, Grahamstown (2014).

Select group exhibitions include 40 under 40, KRONE X WHATIFTHEWORLD, Twee Jonge Gezellen Estate, Tulbagh (2021); Outside, Rk Contemporary, Riebeeck Kasteel (2019); Everything's For Sale, KZNSA Gallery, Durban (2019); and Know This Place?, KZNSA Gallery, Durban (2019).

Website and Instagram

Callan Grecia's website can be found here, and his Instagram can be found here.

Rachel Kubrick | Ocula | 2022

Callan Grecia
featured artworks

A Percy Shelly Poem For Rome by Callan Grecia contemporary artwork painting
Callan Grecia A Percy Shelly Poem For Rome, 2021 Acrylic on canvas
91.5 x 122 cm
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