The different characters of Froilan Calayag

Published May 25, 2021, 8:59 AM

by Repelente Terence Patrick T.

The Flower Eater

OPEN UP InRepair, oil on canvas, 2019

Froilan Calayag’s artworks are always filled with his created characters and creatures. It is almost as if his works are illustrations of scenes drawn from fantasy books. Interesting, however, how Froilan does not see himself as a storyteller. Instead, he claims that he is the story.

But what is his story?


“I was born with defects. They used to treat me with a lot of medications and, as I grew, my mother suspected I had autism spectrum disorder because my behavior was quite different from the other kids,” he recalls. “They told me that as early as the age of two, I could already make sculptures out of paper and draw images clearly. There was a time, I think when I was seven years old, I dreamed of the sky, where the clouds opened, and a figure of a paint brush appeared. From then on, I knew I would become an artist.”

Moreover, instead of presenting a narrative, Froilan prompts his audience to create their own. “I want them to be the storyteller,” he says. “They can look at my art and they are more than welcome to produce whatever story they want to produce.” His exhibitions become an exercise for one’s imaginings.

GARDEN OF EDEN Flowerface, oil on Canvas, 2021

His works, most especially the ones that are part of this year’s edition of Art Fair Philippines, exhibited at the Art Elaan and presented by Galerie Roberto, sucks you right into a rabbit hole. The canvas becomes a portal to a different world full of monsters, beast-like sprites, and imaginary characters.

‘They can look at my art and they are more than welcome to produce whatever story they want to produce.’

“My images represent ‘people,’ because I believe that every human possesses different characters,” he says. “And each of these characters symbolize different emotions and behavior. I have this special character I like to call ‘the famous clown.’ It represents fear, desires, and dreams.” Another character of Froilan, and perhaps his most prominent, is the “Flower Eater.”

AN IMAGERY TO REMEMBER The Unforgotten Fairytale, oil on canvas, 2013

“The flower eater is one of my created characters. It devours flowers in order to maintain its existence,” says Froilan. “This character started to appear in my art in 2012, specifically when I was invited to work in a Tibetan temple. The character was influenced by the so-called Lotus Eaters from Greek mythology, which symbolize all kinds of temptation. Similarly, my Flower Eater attempts to represent human temptation.”

Froilan’s Flower Eaters are usually depicted as destroyers, consuming plants and flowers. In his recent works, however, the creatures are presented as the creators themselves. In the work Flowerface and InRepair, they are shown crafting and sewing together a human-like figure using flowers and, in the latter, their own skin.

According to Froilan, this aims to be an eye opener about the protection and conservation of nature. “Instead of eating flowers to survive and save themselves from extinction, the Flower Eaters are sacrificing their food to create human messengers, whose task is to tell other humans to take good care of the planet.”

Froilan Calayag’s works are exhibited at the Art Elaan at Ayala Malls Manila Bay in Parañaque City. The exhibit is co-presented by Galerie Roberto. |