JEFRË took his creative vision to Art Basel Paris Week with his XLS (Xtra Large Small) exhibition, which featured small-scale versions of his groundbreaking works.
If you’ve been around parts of Metro Manila, you’ve likely seen a number of large, reflective sculptural pieces. These stunning works come from the mind of Filipino-American artist, Jefre Manuel Figueras—better known as JEFRË. For instance, there’s the “Time,” a majestic 12-meter piece that shines in front of SM Megamall. One of his newly-completed works, “The Victor,” is a behemoth to say the least. The statue stands at the border between Pasig and Quezon City. What makes it particularly special is its jaw-dropping 28-storey height, making it even taller than the Statue of Liberty.
Last October 16 to 19, the artist continued to cement his legacy in the world of contemporary art with his debut Europe exhibition. Entitled XLS (which stands for “Xtra Large Small”), the show took place during Art Basel Week in Paris, in none other than Rivoli Fine Art. The gallery proudly highlights both French and Philippine talents around the world.
Showcasing an Artist’s Range
As the name implies, XLS featured smaller versions of many of JEFRË’s best works. These include pieces from his Baby Zodiac series and the BAKS series.
The artist creates works that are more than gargantuan. Complex facets and mirror-like materials yield pieces that, quite literally, reflect the intricacies of the urban landscapes that surround them.
Even before making his Philippine debut with his first solo exhibition, “Points of Origin,” the artist already garnered wide international acclaim. His works have graced public spaces, galleries, and museums across the world, from Miami all the way to Abu Dhabi.
JEFRË’s Paris exhibition also included an Art Talk, where the artist shared his thoughts and experiences with the creative community, as well as a Filipino Heritage Night with members of the Filipino community.
The immersive experience offered a glimpse into JEFFRË’s unique perspective on urban life, showcasing how he envisions the interaction between the city and its citizens within the artistic environment.
The Making of a Visionary
Jefre Manuel Figueras established his boutique design studio, JEFRË, in 2008. Though he possessed a flair for the creative at a young age and pursued studies at the Institute of Art in Chicago, he eventually moved to a career in urban design for more stability. In line with this, he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from Ohio State University.
However, after experiencing serious health complications, Jefre reconsidered his next steps in life. This led him back to his creative pursuits as an artist, with a renewed interest in site-specific artworks and a range of other projects that the public could engage with. In turn, the artist has also created a lasting legacy that reflects his inimitable sensibilities and voice.
Into the World of JEFRË
“It’s the idea of going after legacy projects that got me to the point where I started creating my own little niche for myself—to create art that’s one of a kind as a public artist, and creating art about me for my studies of learning about public art and the people as a studio artist,” the artist told Lifestyle Asia in a 2021 interview.
Right at the beginning of his career, JEFRË won eight out of 12 of the competitions he joined—accomplishments that prophesied his fast-growing career and served as undeniable testaments to his talent.
The artist’s ethos is best described in his website, which writes: “JEFRË approaches each new landscape with an act of questioning, as building context for the location is an essential way to begin to know the community.”
Banner photo via Instagram @rivolifineart.