Small Talk

JEFRË shares the in­flu­ences be­hind his works of art and the project he is bring­ing home

Philippine Tatler - - CONTENTS -

In­ter­na­tional artist JEFRË casts the spot­light on small com­mu­ni­ties through his thought-pro­vok­ing art in­stal­la­tions

In­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed con­tem­po­rary artist Je­fre ManuelFigueras—known by many as JEFRË—made a name for him­self through var­i­ous public art in­stal­la­tions and projects he has done over the years, among them are “The Code Wall” and “The Beacon,” both found in Lake Nona Med­i­cal City in Florida. Rather than us­ing a par­tic­u­lar medium for his works, his projects are cus­tomised to al­ways re­flect the iden­tity and the cul­ture of the com­mu­nity where they are built. Be­cause of his iconic cre­ations, he was recog­nised by sev­eral award-giv­ing bod­ies in­clud­ing the Marl­bor­ough Gallery in New York City, which named him “Up and Com­ing In­ter­na­tional Public Artist.” A Filipino born and raised in Chicago, he’s now bring­ing his mas­ter­pieces to his home­land, the Philippines. He was pre­vi­ously com­mis­sioned by the SM Group for “Talk­ing Heads” at SM Five E- Com in Pasay City and “Sculp­ture Con­tour Se­ries” at SM Aura Premier. He’s cur­rently work­ing on a project with the Net Group in Boni­fa­cio Global City.

Of all your cre­ations, which is your favourite and what makes it special to you?

To be hon­est, I don’t nec­es­sar­ily have a favourite. What makes a piece a favourite to me is if it’s a suc­cess for the city or a client I’m do­ing it for; ev­ery­thing I do is very spe­cific and re­ally about them. They all bring joy, ex­cite­ment, in­trigue, cre­ativ­ity, and some sort of op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a des­ti­na­tion piece for each city. You al­ways talk about how you want to cre­ate art that would be­come the next iconic land­mark. Would you have a con­cept and a lo­ca­tion of where you may want that to be? Es­sen­tially, a city that doesn’t have one. When we say Eif­fel Tower, Statue of Lib­erty, and even nat­u­ral won­ders, we all know which city they are in and they are all iden­ti­fied by their land­marks. So I hope one day, I could do that for Manila or even my home­town, San Pe­dro, Ilo­cos Sur. I think that’s an op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate land­marks not only for ma­jor cities but also for smaller towns.

Who do you con­sider your men­tors?

Philippe Starck, Ai Wei­wei, and Anish Kapoor (who brought public art to main­stream with “Cloud Gate” aka “The Bean” in Chicago and showed the im­pact public art can do for a city).

Do you feel your art is ap­pre­ci­ated in the Philippines?

I was very hon­oured to be one of the first public artists to cre­ate sculp­tures for SM Malls. I’m ex­cited to see how sculp­ture and art­work are now be­ing in­te­grated in new SM projects and by other de­vel­op­ers na­tion­wide.

Though born and raised in the US, your roots re­main very Filipino. Does this have any in­flu­ence on your art? How?

I’m still ex­plor­ing what be­ing a Filipino-Amer­i­can means. I can say that work­ing with Filipino clients is al­most like work­ing with fam­ily in the States. I’m for­tu­nate to have very hard-work­ing par­ents that pro­vided me an ed­u­ca­tion and sup­ported the arts. But what I’m amazed by is how tal­ented, creative, and wel­com­ing Filipinos are.

Tell us about this lat­est project that you are do­ing in BGC.

Still work­ing on the fi­nal de­tails but we are fi­nal­is­ing a gi­ant mo­saic ice­berg sculp­ture and a large dig­i­tal art sculp­ture in Net Park.

HIS CALL­ING For­merly a city plan­ner, he left his job at age 35 af­ter hav­ing a heart at­tack and un­der­go­ing triple by­pass surgery; (inset) The Code Wall and The Beacon at Lake Nona Med­i­cal City in Florida

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