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Bjorn Calleja

Unknown Unknowns

In this age when the so-called supremacy of painting has come to pass, Bjorn Calleja offers a glimpse into the

About the Artist

In this age when the so-called supremacy of painting has come to pass, Bjorn Calleja offers a glimpse into the inexhaustible possibilities of the medium, deliriously expressed by his works in Unknown Unknowns. Large-scale, sweeping, and obsessive, the paintings testify to an imagination steeped in the images of a globalized culture, flattening conventional hierarchies, accommodating impulsive marks on canvas, as well as encompassing the allure of digital realities.

Having emerged as one of the more authoritative names in NFTs (non-fungible tokens), Calleja embeds and distributes his self-created characters throughout the pictorial plane, which may stand alone or be animated as minted digital assets. The humanoid figures, characterized by their outsized lips and googly eyes, enact a Sisyphean loop that captures the folly of human routine and time-related mutations, only for them to revert back to zero and commence their journey anew.

If any, the works of Calleja may be seen as a casual stroll on the landfill of accumulated images throughout art history, inspecting the wreckage, using whatever is usable and trying to salvage it by hybridizing elements, adding a neon veneer onto things and surfaces, transfiguring icons into the freshened characters of his phantasmagoric world. Take, for instance, the artist’s re-envisioning of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi in “Nothing Left to Save Here,” which offers Christ as a lump of melting colors, dangled with Lilliputian figures, the crystal sphere now transformed as a jiggly globe in which no destiny may be foretold.

The works’ skepticism toward social structures portrays not exactly an absurdist view of humanity but an acceptance, with a tinge of humor, of what the world has become: reality fractured through media, experienced through the mediation of glowing screens (the proverbial black mirror), internalized as bits and pieces of digital information. Calleja’s paintings have the quality of an Hieronymus Bosch orgiastic sprawl, but depicting the controlled chaos of the 21st century, absent of the itch to make sense of everything, at peace with all the unknowns that we will never get to know.

 

Words by Carlomar Daoana


Artworks

Bjorn Calleja
Bjorn Calleja
Bjorn Calleja
Bjorn Calleja
Bjorn Calleja
Bjorn Calleja
Bjorn Calleja


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