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b. 1971, Spain

Javier Calleja Biography

Javier Calleja is a Spanish artist whose paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints are in the style of children's books, toys, and cartoons, featuring deliberately saccharine faces with large, round eyes. For the youth market, Calleja has also created a collection of marketable bags, sneakers, and clothing, including for Vans.

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Early Years

Calleja has a BFA from Granada University (2000) and completed further art studies in 2002 while also training as a gymnast for the Olympics.

Javier Calleja Artworks

Javier Calleja says his images are based on early childhood memories of things like books, comics, and toys, but he does not like to discuss the meaning of his work, leaving such interpretations to others.

Several commentators have noted the resemblance of Javier Calleja's images to the Japanese artist, Yoshitomo Nara. Through this stylistic piggybacking, Calleja can be interpreted as a conceptual artist who is satirising the artworld's commercial ethos, especially as exemplified in the famous quote of Andy Warhol: 'Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.'

Calleja's avoidance of originality in an international context—like say, Sturtevant, who appropriated Warhol and Frank Stella for different reasons—and use of short, asinine English phases on t-shirts or held placards, seems to be a strategy that with sugariness ensures scornful chatter, and scornful chatter encourages debate and controversy.

His artworks, such as Long Day (2017), While Ago (2018), Don't be bad (2019), or Take it all (2019), are usually named after the simple, written English phrases that are included in the image. Despite its connection with the strategy of appropriation, he sees his work as anti-theory, and favours immediacy over complex cerebral speculation.

Later developments reveal an interest in making murals by positioning groups of portraits with coloured circular elements painted directly on the wall, overlapping together to visually blend and cohere, as seen in Untitled (2021). He sometimes makes immersive installations as well.

Exhibitions

Javier Calleja has participated in many solo and group exhibitions.

Solo exhibitions include Javier Calleja, Almine Rech, Shanghai (2021); Sooner or Later, Bill Brady, Miami (2020); Those Little Things, Dio Horia, Mykonos (2019); Fate is the future, Galerie Zink, Waldkirchen (2018).

Group exhibitions include Oneoffs International Art Fair, Gin Huang Gallery, Taipei (2021); PopYoung, Room Gallery, Shanghai (2021); Portraits 1962–2017, Pulpo Gallery, Murnau (2020); MOTHER & CHILD, Dorothy Circus Gallery, London (2019).

Collections

Calleja's work is held in the collections of Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Burgos; Centro de arte contemporáneo de Málaga; and Powerlong Museum, Shanghai, among others.

Website and Instagram

Javier Calleja's website can be found here, and his Instagram here.

John Hurrell | Ocula | 2022

Javier Calleja Featured Artworks

POT POP TOP by Javier Calleja contemporary artwork sculpture
Javier Calleja POT POP TOP Ceramic
Gin Huang Gallery Contact Gallery
I can wait without waiting by Javier Calleja contemporary artwork sculpture, print
Javier Calleja I can wait without waiting, 2019 Silkscreen printed, 17 different screens and colours
94 x 66.5 cm
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Gin Huang Gallery
Do Not Touch by Javier Calleja contemporary artwork sculpture
Javier Calleja Do Not Touch, 2019 Resin, steel, acrylic paint
36 x 19 x 22 cm
Sold
Gin Huang Gallery

Javier Calleja Recent Exhibitions

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Javier Calleja Represented By

Almine Rech contemporary art gallery in Brussels, Belgium Almine Rech Aspen, Brussels, London, New York, Paris, Shanghai

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