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The Controversial Sculptor

Fascinated with the mythology of science fiction and futurism, 22 year-old Filipino Jan Leeroy New is bringing sculpture and industrial design to a whole new level. Leeroy New’s works of Catholic mockery and extra-terrestrial representations has taken stage at Fukuoka Triennale, Japan and the Singapore Biennale 2008, Singapore. Most recently, he was conferred the Ateneo Art Award in 2009, one of the most prestigious art prizes in the Philippines art scene. Today, we step into Leeroy New’s world of foreign life forms and fantasy while he undertakes artist residency at Artsesan Art Gallery and Studio. 

As an artist, this makes Jan Leeroy New whole. 

Just the pleasure of actually engaging my body and my sensibilities in the act of making and doing. The result of seeing something that was once only constructed in my mind take physical form and become a kind of truth.  

Is sculpture the only medium of expression for him.

Sculpture to me is just that, a form/medium for my intentions. I would not like to think that my practice is defined by my current preferred medium although they are not necessarily separate and/or antagonistic to each other. I have dabbled in fashion, production design, etc. merely because it reflects my desire to physically alter my immediate surroundings or those within my sphere of influence.

The general concept behind his works.

The general motivation for my practice is this personal anxiety to affect change through the physical transformation of my environment. The hybrid iconography used is merely the trappings of a specific person of a specific time and place.   

On personal influences and individuals that fuel his collections. 

I have a hard time tracing specific influences since they have overlapped and evolved through time. Different things at different points have influenced me in my life for different reasons, which makes it hard for me to pinpoint and play favorites. I guess its says something about my aversion to this feeling of attachment to one idea.

His most memorable collection.

My site-specific works are always memorable to me, aside from the fact that they are unique to a particular time and place by virtue of their site-specificity; production is always an adventure because there are different expectations and a lot of unanticipated surprises.

How different is his recent collection from previous.

My latest work is a site-specific installation I did for the Ateneo Art Gallery entitled 'Balete'. It's the result of my explorations in discarded materials during my residency at the La Trobe VAC (Visual Art Canter). The work was initially reactive to the local environment (Bendigo, Australia) and the physical and economic conditions of the residency. For a very minimal budget I had to create work for an exhibition and we ended up scouring the local recycling centers. The discarded water hoses appealed to me and the result was a sculpture, which resembled the mystical 'Balete' tree. 

As a young artist, what he has to say to budding artist on the necessarily to get noticed.

Getting noticed should not be a primary concern although it is crucial in this day and age. One just needs to react honestly to his/her time or beyond. 



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