Back with Dio Horia gallery two years after his solo introduction in Greece, Javier Calleja will be presenting his Athens debut through the month of July 2021.
Borrowing the title from an expression that stands for slow and steady yet unstoppable progress, Drop By Drop continues the artist’s subtle but focused and persistent development of his practice. Tirelessly moving through the art world “step by step” and consistently making connections between his humble beginnings and the recent successes, Calleja's newest presentation includes a couple of poetic bridges between the past and the present. Showing exclusively works on paper, namely 10 drawings, the exhibition once again utilizes his love for this most sincere of mediums as well as for the play with scale. By contrasting 5 small-scale drawings against 5 otherworldly, blown-up, big-scale ones, Malagan artist once again puts the viewer as the center point of the installation. Experiencing the works in a black space of the gallery, the observer becomes a steady reference point surrounded with works of shifting scales. Simultaneously, the artist reintroduces the use of typography in his work, evoking the book aesthetics and suggesting the existence of a bigger story around the individual, imaginary page. The reintroduction of some older concepts is accompanied by new traits of the big-eyed subjects. The new haircuts, depiction of dynamic movements, or use of a refined approach to create the volume as well as light and play effect, are all mimicking the life dynamics within his practice. “It’s like taking a different path to arrive at the same place,” the artist explains, revealing the poetry behind these appealing visuals. And such a poetic approach to referencing reality infuses the continuous development of Calleja’s universe. From iconic characters, over their natural surroundings, its fauna (also referencing the previous presentation with the gallery), all the way to the ambiance set by the textual elements in the work. Purposely bleak, tragi-comic, or even nonsensical, and in stark contrast with aforementioned invigorated visuals, these simple yet intriguing quotes are meant to spark the magic of imagination. Once again putting the viewer in a fictitious spotlight, the combination of the two elements constructs a tension that opens doors for a multitude of readings of both the individual pieces and the body of work as a whole.