Javier Calleja - 20th Century & Contemporary Art New York Tuesday, July 18, 2023 | Phillips
  • The four panels of Not everyday or… 2016, feature several of Javier Calleja’s signature motifs, including clouds, exaggerated wide-eyed characters, and exclamatory text. The largest component, lined like a student’s notebook paper, contains a cloud-headed figure with bright green eyes and a sky-blue t-shirt exclaiming “YES” across the front. The three additional parts in the work feature clouds, one of which also has Calleja’s famous eyes on it.

    “With these simple characters, only a pair of eyes and one T-shirt, I can talk about everything. I can be critic, empathic, happy.”
    —Javier Calleja

    Calleja’s playful practice is inspired by contemporary Yoshitomo Nara, whom Calleja worked with in 2007, and the aesthetics of both Spanish and Japanese cartoons. Manga, in particular, inspires the artist by its visual simplicity and ability to communicate a narrative effectively, without complex explanation. Inherent in all his work is Calleja’s desire to leave something to be interpreted and felt by the viewer: “I want the observer to finish the painting,” he has said. “To start and finish. I want to keep this moment that one part of the painting is well rendered or finished, and other is very expressive or casual.”i Calleja’s preference for carefree expression can even be understood in the orange and yellow marks at the edge of the center panel. His willingness to share his process of creation breaks down the barrier between creator and observer.


    The title of the work appears as text above the cloud-headed figure, connecting Not everyday or... with Calleja’s wider oeuvre. The work represents a critical turning point in Calleja’s practice, as he shifted from smaller scale, installation-based works featuring anthropomorphic pebbles and clouds, to an increasingly figurative, and larger scale, practice. Not everday or... treads this middle ground, showing an artist at play in a universe of his own making, incorporating different motifs as he embarks on expanding his practice.



    iJavier Calleja, quoted in “Conversation: Javier Calleja x Sasha Bogojev,” in Why Not, New York, 2023, p. 9.

    • Provenance

      Castor Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Artist Biography

      Javier Calleja

      Javier Calleja (b. 1971) is a contemporary Spanish artist living and working in
      Malaga, Spain. Calleja is most known for his figurative style of cartoonish, doe-eyed
      characters with exaggerated features. His style is influenced by the toys and comics
      from his 70s and 80s upbringing. Calleja’s characters are often accompanied by text
      that contrasts the innocent and adolescent looking facial expressions of the
      characters represented in the compositions. Calleja works in painting, sculpture,
      and works on paper.

      Calleja holds a BFA from Granada University in Spain. His works have been exhibited worldwide and he is currently represented by Almine Rech.

      View More Works


Not everyday or…

signed and dated "Javier Calleja 2016" on the reverse of the largest canvas
oilstick, graphite, colored pencil and acrylic on canvas, in 4 parts
(i) 15 x 16 in. (38.1 x 40.6 cm)
(ii) 48 x 35 3/4 in. (121.9 x 90.8 cm)
(iii) 11 x 10 in. (27.9 x 25.4 cm)
(iv) 10 x 14 in. (25.4 x 35.6 cm)
installation dimensions variable

Executed in 2016.

Full Cataloguing

$70,000 - 100,000 

Sold for $73,660

Contact Specialist

Nina Piro
Specialist, Associate Vice President

20th Century & Contemporary Art

New York Auction 18 July 2023