Born in Durban in 1991, Callan Grecia holds a Master of Fine Art degree in painting from Rhodes University, obtained in 2017. As a young man actively engaged in music, fashion, and photography, Grecia discovered in painting a way to explore new modes of expression. He credits his early experiences in hip hop and fashion with unlocking an experimental, almost playful approach to painting; the result is an energetic portfolio of work that has evolved organically with the artist’s taste in music and fashion.
Grecia aims, through his making, to pause and critically examine his own experiences of western notions of academy and art produced in this context. He describes it as a process of unlearning and finding new ways of relearning aspects of western practice to facilitate new critical dialogues. Grecia offers a view of a complex young democracy, commenting with new sincerity on a nation seemingly obsessed with consumerism, rainbownationism, and his lived experience being a person of colour in post-apartheid South Africa.
Grecia’s current body of work is a deliberation on the history of art, the academy, and time. The notion that humankind constantly buffers the past, the present, and also acts towards the future presents a challenge to create images that reinforce or transcend the construct of time. Grecia is drawn to how the image can be entered at different times, transcending the time buffer while remaining constant.
With this shift in thinking has come a parallel shift in medium; Grecia finds himself currently exploring a multimedia approach on paper that lends itself to a quicker articulation of his ideas than traditional oil painting on canvas allows. Working with a vast array of mediums on paper; paint, glue, crayon, duct tape and spray paint brings energy and complexity to his narrative.
Since 2014, Grecia has participated in numerous group exhibitions across the country with a highlight being shady tactics at SMAC Gallery in Cape Town, 2018, curated by Thuli Gamedze. In 2020, his work was acquired by the Durban Art Gallery permanent collection.