M. dels Àngels Ballbé

Dumb things became hostile
J. Carner

Bell was to see the flame of fire immobile on a spiral of water asleep under the dawn star. The magenta gold of the afternoons caressed with the thirst for silk the body knotted at the intersection of the desire tree. The days, ignited, radiated the mystery and serenity of things we do not go anywhere. The canvas pigments fused on the horizon like silent shipwrecks. Bell was about to see the jar of nature, open to the senses, before dumb things became hostile.

Text of the Transfer catalog. Can Palauet. Mataró 1997

Abel Figueres
The work of JMCalleja is developed in many different directions that tend to have the visual poetry commonly understood in its broadest sense, we could almost say panoramic or fan-shaped, because JMCalleja’s visual poems reach all kinds of forms and aspects: films, videos, poetic actions, books, mail-art, plates, folders, objects, posters, installations and assemblies (poetic).

This time he has six works in 1996 at Can Palauet, in Mataró. Each of these facilities or assemblies occupy a specific area of ​​the building, whether it be a hall or a corridor. Three of them are inaccessible, they are inside a space that we can not enter, and therefore we have to see them from the door, at a certain distance. The other three allow us to approach or we take turns around and we observe them from various points of view.

We will talk about each one separately, trying to give clues and notes so that the reader / viewer can do his / her particular reading / perception and this way he ventures to transfer the works to reach … where everyone wants.

The original is lost

It consists of a set consisting of 9 serpents of different sizes and colors and 52 golden eggs scattered randomly by an intricate space (where the old press of the house can still be seen) with several levels and scales; a space that reaches a certain aspect of cave, where we can not enter; Only our eyes can be accessed.

Some of the snakes – even if they are dissected – because of their position, how they are located, make us doubt about whether they are alive or not, which adds a certain degree of uneasiness to the viewer.

The number of eggs (vital elements and containers of life) makes us think about the 52 weeks that it has the year; 52 periods of time that allow us to carry out all kinds of activities. The fact that these eggs are golden relates to them with the fortune and the luck. Therefore, they can be interpreted as lapses of fortunate times, those times or periods in which things go well.

But we must not forget that to achieve them, the dangerous and poisonous obstacles that serpents represent must be avoided.


In the corridor that is between the first and second spaces there is a mounting that occupies a wall lock. On a red background you can see three rows of letters with a certain order. They are 13 pieces of black marble (13x13x2 cm) with the gold inscription of a letter. They are located in three rows that have five, three and five letters respectively: AABEE are the letters of the first line, EJL, those of the second and MRSSY, those of the third one.

Although the alphabetical order can be easily discovered, it is difficult to deduce something else. This is, most likely, the most enigmatic assembly of the exhibition.

This is a tribute to another artist. They are the letters of the name of James Lee Byars, a character who likes J.M.Calleja, put in alphabetical order, which makes them lose the obvious meaning and makes them reach a mysterious aura. The colors used also refer to the ones often used by Byars.

Natura morta

This is another of the facilities that you need to see from the door of the room. The whole room is covered by a large carpet of human hair; An extension of hairs of all sizes and colors that makes us think about everything that we are losing throughout our lives. At the bottom of the room you can see a door where eight gold cages are hung.

Human hair clippings become a real dead nature that invades everything. The cages in the bottom, although they are golden, do not stop representing certain symbols of the loss of freedom, a literary metaphor that has already become popular. Some golden cages that often mask and disguise the fact that they are nothing more than traps where we can fall and be enslaved, imprisoned and controlled.

The cages on the door also seem to want to close the step or warn all those who want to cross the saddle and venture to go further, on the other side.

In illo tempore

The third room inaccessible is entitled In illo tempore. This is another space that also has the covered land, in this case of naphthalene; a crystalline white substance that permeates the environment of its characteristic and penetrating smell. A substance and a smell that reminds us of the memories of the closets and the old drawers where the clothes were stored.

On either side of the room, hanging on the wall, some watches that are not searchable, also old, transport us to intangible, surrealistic and mysterious times and space; A time and a space that neglects us and leave us breathless. All in all, he speaks of the time in suspense, a time that we do not know which is nor can we measure it. A past time that may have to be kept in our memories.


It is the most sculptural of the works presented. It is a kind of ziggurat, of about one meter in height, made with glass and paper. The two materials alternate on floors, each pile of thousand sheets in white corresponds to a glass, placed horizontally, which is decreasing as a surface increases the height of the floor, until it reaches the characteristic pyramid shape truncated

The shape of ziggurat makes us think about the characteristic towers of Mesopotamia-owned flats; This type of religious construction that made the bond between earth and heaven. The term acceda de siqurratu means tower of floors. They used to have between three and eight floors, with the immediately superior level always smaller than the lower one, and could reach up to 100 meters in height.

One of the most famous ziggurats is that of Babylon, dedicated to Marduk, whose name, which was precisely E.temen.an.ki, which means “residence of the foundation of heaven and earth.”

J.M.Calleja’s piece has seven floors that are superimposed with sheets of white paper; which makes us think about the enormous possibilities that the paper offers us to reflect ideas and feelings (written or drawn) and thus be able to access the higher stages until they connect each individual’s land and sky.

Rostolls de taller

It is the title of a large circle of 3 meters in diameter made with a multitude of pieces, bunches, cutouts and scraps of frames of all types and styles.

It is a spectacular piece that retrieves what is left over from art, the most insignificant and poor. They are remains of the perimeter of creation, remains of frames of works of art that were destined to be despised and rejected, but which by chance of the fate and will of the artist can also become artistic and be part of a human work

It is also a cluster of imperfections that become a perfect shape, a circle. And, at the same time, it is a vindication of poverty, of the remains, of things over, of what we throw away, of waste, of leftovers, etc.


The six assemblies or facilities can also be perceived as an itinerary. Each one of them is complemented with the other ones until it arrives to form a great fan of suggestions, indications, insinuations that make us feel and think. A poetic and visual fan that explodes visual poetry itself in thousands of forms and appearances. Because the important thing is not the trade, the technique or the medium, but to make it feel. No matter what happened to us, Oriental wisdom already warned irony, let us look at the finger as the foolish ones when he pointed to the moon.

Text of the Transfer catalog. Can Palauet. Mataró 1997