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