Javier Calleja Javier Calleja is a Spanish contemporary artist born in Malaga in 1971. He studied Fine Arts at the University of Granada and later returned to his hometown, where he currently lives and works.Calleja's work is characterized by his characters with large eyes and exaggerated proportions, which invite the viewer to enter a figurative universe of naivety and simplicity. His paintings and sculptures are usually small in size and full of humor and poetry, and his characters may seem childish but contain a critical and reflective undertone about contemporary society and culture.The artist is reluctant to talk about his work, preferring that it is the viewer who interprets it and finds his or her own meaning in it. According to Calleja, "good magicians never explain their tricks," and his work is like magic, brief but intense, capable of transporting us to imaginary worlds and making us reflect on our own reality.Calleja's work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions in galleries and museums around the world, including Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States. He has received several awards and recognitions for his work, and his works are part of important contemporary art collections around the world. With his unique and recognizable style, Javier Calleja has become one of the most prominent contemporary artists in Spain and on the international scene. His great-great-grandfather was the first teacher that Pablo Picasso had in his hometown, he trained for ten years to become a gymnast and participated in several Spanish championships. After retiring from sports, he studied Physical Education Teaching and later graduated in Fine Arts from the University of Granada and worked as a Physical Education teacher in high schools in Andalusia, before turning to art.Among his influences Calleja cites artists such as Magritte and Rothko, and movements such as pop art, surrealism and minimalism. Critics define his work as pop and kawaii (cute) and highlight the influence of Japanese manga.For years he created minimal works due to lack of space and to reduce production costs. In his paintings, drawings and sculptures he deploys the aesthetic conventions of cartoons and children's book illustrations, in his search for simplicity and immediacy. Bold colors are a constant in his work, as is distortion of scale.His characters, whom he considers small versions of himself, are recognizable by their disproportionately large heads, naïve air and huge teary eyes, in which perfectly matched gradient facial features contrast with flat, single-color backgrounds and are accompanied by ironic, critical or absurd phrases written in English.His works are often exhibited in an almost chaotic order or semi-hidden, inviting the viewer to make an effort to look for them in spaces usually wasted as plugs, baseboards, alarms or holes along the ceiling.Author also of medium formats and even smaller ones, known as art toys with a long Asian tradition.
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