Sooner or Later: Javier Calleja @ Bill Brady, Miami
Years ago when a spunky young Spanish artist Javier Calleja met the renowned American gallerist Bill Brady, he jokingly suggested that they might possibly work together one day. Call it the power of suggestion, but happily, the spacious, eponymously named gallery in Miami’s Little River neighborhood will present a new body of work, fittingly titled Sooner or Later, by the now celebrated Calleja for the entire month of October 2020.
Over the years Calleja has established a reputation for conceiving elaborate, exhibitions that regu elaborate, interactive installations in which visitors become key elements of the experience. Throughout his practice, he has continuously experimented with the scale of his paintings and sculptures, testing perceived limitations and introducing progressively larger works. With this in mind, the upcoming exhibition presents his biggest sculpture, along with some of his largest paintings to date, each pure, up-front and unadorned.
Spanning 2.6 meters, Heads was first revealed at NANZUKA gallery's recent group presentation, Global Pop Underground at the Parco Museum Tokyo. The cairn-like structure made from aluminum, crystal glass, and finished with urethane paint coating, is actually a stack of his signature characters’ heads, smoothly translating his recent painting and drawing concepts into 3D. “I’m from a coastal city with beautiful pebble beaches (Malaga), and stone towers are the kind of thing that everyone did while enjoying the seaside,” Calleja explains of the origin. The monumental sculpture evokes the magnificence of ancient monoliths, obelisks, and totems, as well as the fragility and surprising majesty of stone towers, an ode to the joyful spirit of the artist's oeuvre.
The new series of mostly large-scale paintings and a selection of recent drawings on paper comprise the portion of Sooner or Later. Done during the post-lockdown period, after a long studio hiatus, the new images and accompanying text reflect the feeling of uncertainty and insecurity. "At the moment I believe the only thing we can do is be ready to adapt," Calleja says. "I'm just ready to adapt to whatever happens, without expectations." Sooner Or Later, Now What?, You Reap What You Sow, It Won't Be Easy Or Clean, are among the T-shirts that his now almost grown-up boys wear, distilling this global moment in time, a grounded warning in contrast the largest work in the show, a massive 200 × 250 cm / 78 3/4 × 98 3/8 inches painting hopefully entitled Such a Perfect Day, proof positive that the spunky believer still finds hope. —Sasha Bogojev
Sooner or Later will be on view at Bill Brady in Miami from October 1—31, 2020