Bjorn Calleja: The Artist Representing Philippine Art on the Global Stage
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Filipino interdisciplinary artist and contemporary painter Bjorn Celleja on flowing between mediums and the power of NFTs in empowering Southeast Asian artists
At S.E.A. Focus 2023, the anchor event of Singapore Art Week, the strength and potential of NFTs as an art medium will be on full display.
The Tezos exhibition will take visitors through an audio-visual journey of artworks by six leading Southeast Asian artists, Bjorn Calleja from the Philippines, CwndDien and the late Orkibal from Malaysia, Reza Hasni from Singapore, as well Ykha Amelz and Discokid909 from Indonesia.
Curated by Tulika Ahuja of Mama Magnet, the dedicated 55m2 exhibition ‘Living System: An NFT Show’ will tie into ‘a world, anew’, the curatorial theme for S.E.A. Focus 2023.
Who is Bjorn Calleja?
Bjorn Calleja (born 1981, Manila, Philippines) is a Filipino contemporary painter and interdisciplinary artist. He earned his BFA from Far Eastern University, where he later became a part-time lecturer (2016-2017). Aside from exhibiting his work, his early career involved corporate jobs and stints as a graphic designer and co-founded Design. Other Things. (2012-2014), a design studio that employed a team of contemporary visual artists.
Calleja’s work draws on identity, spirituality, art, general and personal history, and the everyday politics, utilizing perspective and a play of scale as metaphor to how we as humans affect the world at large. His paintings, sculptures, installations, and animations are heavily influenced by 80’s and 90’s popular culture, kitsch, the internet, and the aesthetics and textures of Manila’s landscape.
You’re an interdisciplinary artist whose work spans paintings, sculptures, installations and digital animation. Where does your love for multimedia come from?
I love the physicality of working with my hands, considering that I find my creative practice to be an expression of my humanity.
Working with different mediums opens more possibilities for the work to carry a diversity of meanings and narratives, from the process of each medium, to how they allow people to experience them.
Each medium also reveals different aspects of the human experience – the vibrancy and play of perspective of a painting; the dimensionality and fragility of a ceramic sculpture; and the movement and transformations in my animations, could stand as ideas and context in itself.
Would you see your practice in NFT art and non-NFT art complementing one another?
I like to see them all as part of my art practice. The animations are extensions of my paintings, the digital paintings and collage pieces I tokenized are studies and exercises, and I’m now exploring the idea of 3D scanning my sculptures. The technology allows me as an artist to place value on every aspect of my practice.
I would like to blur the line between what is NFT art and not, the only difference I see is how they are presented and transacted.
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