Javier Calleja

INTERVIEW

How would you describe your contribution to the Truck Art Project?

My work with the Truck Art Project has consisted of producing a drawing-painting that will establish a dialogue with the place where it was made. When I plan an exhibition, I normally interiorise the exhibition space and make works that will integrate with that space. In this case, the process has been similar to the usual one.

How do the two sides of the truck engage in dialogue?

The dialogue between the sides of the lorry depends on their visualisation by the spectator. Vehicles always drive on the right in nearly every country, so the view is different for a spectator by the roadside and one who overtakes or passes them in another vehicle.

What do you see as the challenges of the project?

When I do this type of ‘urban’ work, the challenge always lies in the materials I use. I’m not an urban or graffiti artist, so I always have complications when I’m in contact with sprays.

How does this project fit into your artistic development and discourse?

There’s a wide range of possibilities in my work, so I look for those pieces which will suit each proposal best. In these cases, I make images that come from comic strips or illustrations, giving them dimensions suitable for the space to be intervened.

Some artists admit they arrived with a preconceived idea which they then had to modify, or which grew in other directions when they were confronted with a support like this. Was that your case?

My contribution was decided in situ, in collaboration with the curator. I didn’t know the measurements of the truck until I got to the place where the work was to be executed, so I didn’t decide anything until I had it in front of me.

How have you envisaged the reception of a work like this one, which is found rather than sought out by the spectator, and which doesn’t circulate through the usual artistic channels?

The basis for envisioning a moving piece was the fact that the viewer would have only a few seconds to see it as the truck went past. That meant the image I created always had to be simple and very visual.

And the fleetingness of its reception?

The fleeting visualisation was the main reason for the decision to make this image. As I said before, the viewer has only a few seconds, so the image had to be very simple.

How did you tackle the scale? Were you used to it?

I learned some time ago that the bigger the scale, the greater the simplicity of the image to be produced. I learned that from Claes Oldenburg.

What do you get out of participating in a project like this, and what do you think you contribute to it?

I don’t know what kind of contribution I make. It’s not up to me to decide that. In my case, all I’m after is to take part and have fun with the project.

What’s the interesting thing about a project like the Truck Art Project?

I think projects of this type bring art to places where otherwise it would never arrive. I can’t imagine an exhibition of mine in a border car park or a roadside bar… In this way, while a work of mine normally stays in the same place for several months, now it’s going to be in hundreds in just a few days!

Javier Calleja (Málaga, 1971), a self-confessed admirer of the Surrealist René Magritte, places the viewer opposite the gaze of an enormous pair of eyes that provoke both laughter and reflection. It is precisely these infantile figures with a naive appearance and tearful eyes that have won him fame in recent years, with particular success in the Asian market. Javier Calleja became known on the circuit of Spanish galleries and museums for his ‘minimal sculptures’. ‘My work lies in a continuous distortion of scale, rather like the worlds of Gulliver,’ the artist says before adding after a short silence, ‘For the time being’ In this way, he makes it possible to play with volumes. The small can become large, and the large small. We know full well that his work as a plastic artist is evolving, and that it currently leans towards other trompe-l’oeil effects enabled by three-dimensionality. With a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Granada (2000), this artist from Málaga is a habitué of the Galería Rafael Pérez Hernando in Madrid, although he has also exhibited at the Museo de Huelva (where he was awarded a Vázquez Diaz scholarship), the Galería L21, the Fondation Suisse in Paris, the CAC - Centro de Arte Contemporáneo in Málaga, the Centro de Arte Alcobendas, the CAB - Centro de Arte Caja Burgos and some of the international centres of the Instituto Cervantes.