Earlier this month we got a chance to visit Javier Calleja's studio in Malaga, just hours before his latest body of work was packed up and shipped out to Japan for his debut solo exhibition, Do Not Touch, with Nanzuka in Tokyo. From the paintings, drawings, sketches, and models we've seen there, it feels that this showcase will be a milestone one for the Spanish artist.

Do Not Touch will be a continuation of Calleja's introduction to the Asian market after his successful Hong Kong debut last year. One year later, the artist will be introducing his arguably most elaborate showcase to date, consisting of a new series of paintings on canvas, a brand new life-size sculpture work, drawings and mural, all included in an immersive installation. Continuously playing with perspective and scale, it is the artist's idea to construct a complete gallery takeover with an interactive installation in which the viewer will be the final piece to complete the puzzle.

Exhibiting in the world's largest metropolitan area by population, Calleja's honest and emotive pieces are on the mission to create relationships with the citizens of Japan's capital. Representing artist's own emotions and viewpoints through playful portraits of child-like characters, they are cleverly mixing the simplicity of an intuitive drawing with the elaborate depiction of vital details. Oversized watery eyes evoke the feeling of relief after a sad or painful experience, drawing the viewer's attention to the rest of the image, regularly dominated with large negative space filled with vibrant colors.
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The show will also introduce new works which are constructed from scattered textual and figurative elements, creating an intriguing assemblage of captivating visuals. With a variety of sculptural pieces installed through space, including the debut of artist's 1st life-size sculptural works, this showcase will be a landmark event for the artist whose major source of inspiration comes from Japanese manga and popular culture.

Opening on November 23rd, Do Not Touch will be Calleja's second stop in Asia, following his Bangkok debut with EchoOne Nanzuka, which will open on November 17th. Titled FU*CK’N BEAR, this exhibition will feature only a couple of large size paintings and drawings, and will fully focus on the upcoming release of his exclusive Bearbrick figure. We didn't have a chance to see any of those works, or the finished figure, but we got a peek at some process sketches and drawings that were turned into paintings for that show.

Photo and text by @SashaBogojev