Animator-painter Bjorn Calleja mounts an eye-catching exhibition at this year's Art Fair Philippines, quite literally due to his signature style of enlarged or drooping eyes. Entitled Unknown Unknowns, Calleja's exhibition posits questions like "what do we know?" and "how do we face the unknown" through grotesque figurations of people, species, individuals, and more.
"My work plays on the tension of relationships within the elements of the paintings," he says. "The macabre disguised in fluorescent palettes, the controlled and the accidental approach to painting, forms that border both the familiar and the abstract, and the play on the scale between the minuscule characters populating the paintings and how they relate to the bigger picture," he explains.
As one of the represented artists of online art gallery a\terHEN, Calleja is also showcasing his NFT art this Art Fair PH 2022. "Some of these characters are also used as frames for my animations which I consider as an extension of the idea and as a separate artwork," he adds.
Calleja earned his degree in Fine Arts from Far Eastern University, where he later became a part-time lecturer. Aside from exhibiting his work, his early career involved corporate jobs and stints as a graphic designer.
"I wasn't born to an environment that was exposed to the arts," Calleja shares. "Growing up, the only experience I had with art was from a single painting hanging in our home by an anonymous artist, a giclee print of Fragonard's A Young Girl Reading, my hobbyist aunt's sketches, and three volumes of The Book of Art—all of which never really made sense to me at the time," he recalls. "Much of the interest I had in drawing was seeded by watching cartoons and reading comic books. It was only in college when we started joining painting competitions when it registered to me that I could be an artist."