The artistic genius that is Jefrë
Jefrë Figueras Manuel, or more known as “Jefrë,” has a pressing goal in mind. This internationally acclaimed contemporary artist and former landscape architect would like to create an artistic, iconic structure that will hopefully be a national architectural landmark.
This is surely a challenging dream. But for Jefrë, it is closer to being a reality. The art structure may not be as iconic as the Eiffel Tower or the Sagrada Familia, but with his larger-than-life art pieces, it’s off to a great start.
His countless achievements in Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Antonio, London, and Abu Dhabi are quite impressive. Born and raised in Chicago, Jefrë’s love of the Philippines is because of his Filipino parents who were natives of Ilocos Sur and Laguna.
Jefrë’s passion led him to the Art Institute of Chicago. But he decided to transfer to Ohio State University, where he took up and finished a degree in Urban Design and Landscape Architecture.
His struggles of design paths were real and challenging. He transferred again and became a city planner. For 10 years, he was able to work with various establishments and firms like Skidmore Owings and Merril.
He worked for clients, was contracted in partnerships, and gave service to names such as Santiago Calatrava, BIG Architect’s, Zaha Hadid, and Philippe Starck.
Not expecting a heart attack at the age of 35, Jefrë underwent triple bypass surgery. The incident served as an eye opener and thus, he made a complete change in life. He decided to open his own practice (now known as StudioJEFRë) and joined competitions.
Five years after that incident, Jefrë became known for his pieces such as “The Beacon” and “The Code Wall,” which are both showcased in the heart of Lake Nona Medical City in Florida. His projects are inspired not by a “theme or material-based studio artist” but by the culture and identity of the community locals he works for.
In 2012, he was named as the “Emerging Artist of the Year,” with his thought-provoking work of art. He has won in various sculpture competitions all over the world.
Furthermore, Jefrë was given recognition as the “Consultant of the Year for 2016” by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
He was awarded by the Marlborough Gallery in New York City as an “Up and Coming International Public Artist.” Recently, he was also nominated for the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Museum Award 2016 for the Design Mind Category.
With his flourishing career, Jefrë decided to offer his service and “bring the idea of public art and iconic art to the Philippines.” He became one of the first artists commissioned for permanent art sculptures at SM Aura (Sculpture Contour Series) and at SM Ecom 5 (Talking Heads).
The former “explores the concept of the unknown customer service representative” in a country known for its business process outsourcing industry while the latter features “four culturally symbolic animals” executed in layers mimicking the artwork site.
Jefrë worked with BGC’s most iconic sculpture called “Selfie.” He wishes to create art installations in public spaces for people to interact and enjoy. “For me, there is really no ‘perfection’ in art. Art is more of a process,” Jefrë concluded.
The future is bright and hopeful for Jefrë and he is looking forward to his future endeavors locally and nationwide.
For his latest works, like his official Facebook page www.facebook.com/Studio-JEFRE and follow him on Instagram @jefre_miami.
In closing, please support the FilipinaZ Fair at The Penthouse, 8 Rockwell Hidalgo Drive, Rockwell on July 28 to 30.
It will be a diverse mix of designers showcasing fine jewelry, brilliant works of art and bold fashion pieces and all for a worthy cause. This annual fair is for the benefit of the Zonta Club charitable projects.
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