Daniel Correa Mejía, born in 1986, is a visual artist from Medellin, Colombia. Correa Mejía was raised between Colombia, Brasil, and Mexico. Currently he lives, and works in Berlin.
By Fabiola Alondra, 2021
Amor y Agua exhibition text
I walked to a stream the other day and planted my hands, palms facing down, on the mossy bedrock to let the running water move through me. My hands, like two solid pillars, were no obstacles to the continuous course of water, snaked around and over my hands, in a mesmerizing halcyon dance. The constantly evolving flow of water takes many forms and has different states: evaporated water turns into mist which then becomes rain that falls into a different river. Daniel Correa Mejía explores the similitudes between love and water, and in the exhibition Amor y Agua, he conjures the amorous and weaves it through the poetic and symbolic fabric of water.
The presence of water in Mejía’s new body of work is entwined with other recurring elemental forces that are essential to his art: the moon exists, in almost every painting, as the ancient guiding spirit of the night, overseeing the ritual communion between men, sky, earth, and water. In El agua guiadora (The guiding water), the purple sky, moon, and trees are coupled in bewitching tension with the contrasting saturated red landscape, its cloaked figures bathed in blood-red standing at the edge of an oval-shaped water portal. Rite is alluringly invoked with only the moon, the trees, and our gaze, as the lone witnesses.
Each painting in Amor y Agua is a vortex that pulls you into a primordial realm overflowing with telluric energy. Mejía captures this perpetual sense of movement and ardor in his work using oil paint on jute and linen, in a beautiful dynamic almost water-like manner. In Amor y existencia (Love and existence), energy surges out from the hand of one of the figures upward towards the sky as if releasing love in the form of water. The two clasped male figures are contained in a whirlwind of elemental urges, their physical vibrations moving around an ocean of blue where all forces coexist. In Amor y existencia (Love and existence) love is embedded in their very being.
Water is transitory and finite, just as some love can be, and both hold the power of life and destruction. Esperanza (Hope), one of the few works without figures, is enchanting in its bareness, its earthy jute surface covered in luminous rain and light that falls onto a red horizon. The misty raindrops have their own story to tell and perhaps what they tell us is to have hope. In her book ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’, Robin Wall Kimmerer writes: “maybe there is no such thing as rain; there are only raindrops, each with its own story”. In Lágrimas de lluvia (Tears of rain), there is no difference between raindrops and human tears. The solitary male figure embraces the tears of rain as they caress his naked torso outlined in vaporous light. There is no resistance, he appears transformed, as it all gets washed away.
[…] To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
- Mary Oliver, In Blackwater Woods (excerpt)
The works in Amor y Agua are like chapters in a medieval book of hours, each painting a devotion and meditation on love and water. As Mary Oliver writes, when the time comes to let it go, we must let it go. We are impermanent beings in love with the ephemeral. We drink, we love, and we hope, for as long as we can. Should we learn how to move with the currents of life, no matter what comes its way?
By Chris Sharp, 2020
Soy Hombre: Duro Poco y Es Enorme La Noche artist book epilogue
Looking at the paintings and reading the poems of Daniel Correa Mejia, it is hard not to remark the deliberate modesty of his enterprise. Generally small scale paintings on jute and canvas are paired with short, disarmingly simple poems. The subject matter of the paintings is reflected in the subject matter of what he writes: it is at once a form of world building (attributing symbolic content to forms and colors) and a holistic attempt to situate the human animal’s relationship to nature– not as something apart from it, but a part of it– as well as the cycle of life. This work asks about and seeks to find solutions not to contemporary, but timeless problems, which touch upon the cosmological. Given the political climate of the past four years as well as the climate crisis, not to mention the current, on-going global pandemic, all of which have contributed to a largely reactive, survivalist mode of existence, such fundamental issues as dwelt upon here by Correa Mejia are liable to seem like quaint luxuries. They have a strange, exotic and semi-incomprehensible allure. It’s as if while you were evading the homicidal wrath of some far right extremist, and their hatred of, well, everything, the latest large-scale natural disaster, and trying not to catch a fatal virus, you suddenly caught a glimpse into a much more interconnected way of being. Initially, it doesn’t make sense, would seem to be little more than the idle past time of more disengaged people– but pause to reflect for a moment and you will be obliged to realize that this is crucial stuff. This is the stuff that prevents enduring the other stuff from being meaningless. For while there are certainly undeniable virtues to survival (ask any animal), they themselves are not necessarily what make life worth living. Here is Daniel Correa Mejia’s modest, but poignant contribution to our collective need and search for meaning. May it offer you a precious moment of relief and increase your belief in the timelessly untimely necessities of life.
By Rebecca Irvin, 2021
Art Maze Magazine interview introduction
In Daniel Correa Mejía’s paintings, the figures and gestures we encounter in the quotidian realm are transplanted onto a plane of reality which carries a dimension of mysticism. Vivid colours make his forms appear lit from within, potent and radiant. Unfamiliar landscapes undulate and move like living beings. Celestial bodies preside over human existence and interactions. Psychological, spiritual and emotional auras and energies become physically manifest in strokes of light and ethereal shadow-figures. For Daniel, these images seek to convey that towards which he is always striving: an “awareness of being alive”.
Inhabiting this awareness and observing the world from a place of solitude is a key figure in Daniel’s practice. Having uprooted several times, moving between Colombia, Brazil, Mexico and Berlin, much of Daniel’s artistic development took place during long periods of being by himself in unfamiliar surroundings. Perhaps it is this perspective that has sustained Daniel’s perpetual sense of wonder at the world around him – something he aims to translate into his paintings.
While Daniel’s practice endeavours to convey an existential pulse by uncovering a common human essence, his recent solo show, Soy Hombre: Duro Poco y Es Enorme La Noche (I Am a Man: Little Do I Last and the Night is Enormous) at Fortnight Institute draws together further threads of his work, in particular the personal experience of homosexual male identity. In paintings that present the naked male body, Daniel connects viewers to his own vulnerability as a gay man. And yet, by portraying these bodies as exuberant, spiritually harmonious and abundantly alive, he is also envisaging a way of being that supersedes identity and finds joy and empowerment in being connected to the elements, to nature, to one’s own body. Daniel’s pictures visualise a return to the simple, primal fact of existing.
By Nicola Petek, 2021
Artist descritpion – Days of Heartbreak cataloge
Through a poetic honesty, Daniel Correa Mejía allows us to participate in the innermost part of himself. We witness intimate dialogues and deeply hidden thoughts, set within a delicate universe of knowledge. Laid out on rough jute canvas, the painter moves through a spiritual sea of ultramarine and red. By glowing from within, the paintings radiate a mysterious allure that remains intangible. The figures depicted are vulnerable and strong at the same time, merging masculinity and femininity into a sacred balance.
By Esther Harrisson, 2021
Coeur et Art interview introduction
If we’re totally honest, we’ve become so used to the unjustness of the patriarchal structures that we live in, we tend to demonize men altogether. Even if this is understandable considering the gigantic damage the patriarchy does in all areas of life for women, men and our planet, demonization naturally does not help the issue at all
The last four years have shown it can always get worse, however, and if there’s one thing we’ve had an overload of, it’s toxic masculinity. It is this that makes artists and spiritual men like Daniel Correa Mejía seem almost unreal, too good to be true. In our imagination they trigger an unfortunately still fata morgana-like image of an emotionally mature and healthy, equal future in which all genders and non-binary and LGBTQ folk connect, vibe with and on each other, unafraid of their emotions and unmasked true selves.
Sounds a bit over the top, right? But that’s what I’m saying, how used we have become to the opposite, to the status quo that basically makes everyone miserable.
Daniel Correa Mejía, born in Medellín, Colombia and raised there and also in Brazil and Mexico, knows a thing or two about the difficulties of growing up in a machismo society, both as artist and, god forbid, gay man. Maybe that’s why his work always seems to emanate a certain male sensitivity and beauty, a serenity flowing around the men he depicts.
It may sound exaggerated, but the pure joy I get from looking at his paintings and the scenes they show is extremely powerful and soothing.
Firstly because they touch something in the viewer, whether male or female, something that sets a subtle healing process in motion that makes us realize that it is not only ok to be naked and in touch with Mother Earth, the elements, the moon, the stars and nature; rather, it is essential and necessary for mankind to heal. And secondly, they make you feel warm and excited, excited for the love that is this universe.
I would also like to believe that it is helping men to feel kind and powerful in their sexual identity, without any reason to go on fulfilling the unhealthy expectations put on them from childhood on.
So, I can’t imagine any better time than now to dive into Daniel’s works and words, following his first solo show which took place at the Fortnight Institute in New York, giving us the ideal backdrop for this interview.