Daniel Correa Mejía
Lives and work in Berlin, Germany
What inspired you to be an artist? When did you begin expressing yourself through creative avenues?
I was born in Colombia. When I was eleven years old I moved with my family to Brazil and after five years to Mexico. With those changes, I had to start over again and find new friends. Those beginnings of loneliness made me go a lot within myself with drawing. So I was always drawing as a child and I never paid that much attention to the teachers at class, because I was drawing.
Tell us about your artistic journey: where did you receive an art education, or are you self-taught or currently studying?
In 2003 I did a six-month period of school exchange in Germany. There I often had a lonely time, that made me explore more the expression of my feelings through drawing and realise that I wanted to start taking painting classes. When I came back to Mexico I started painting and since then I have never stopped.
I am kind of a self-taught artist with on and off art studies. I received three years of painting classes in Mexico with Bettina Garro, a great artist that gave me total freedom and purpose to express my inner self.
What ideas are you currently exploring in your work?
I come from a conservative family, where art was not seen as a career option – although my parents have never forbidden me to study art. So after School in 2006, I left Mexico City and decided to study Visual Communication in Munich, Germany and I always painted in parallel to the studies. In 2010 I moved to Berlin to work, but also all the artistic scene attracted me a lot. The artistic life of the city gave me the strength to believe I really was an artist, and I needed to invest more time on that because I was painting only on Sundays. Middle of 2013 I stopped working full-time and became a freelance designer and rented a studio. It gave me so much time to paint and think about it. I also started visiting the class of the great Japanese-Swiss artist Leiko Ikemura at the UdK (Universität der Künste Berlin) until she left the school in 2015 after 25 years of teaching and being the first woman that taught painting at that university. She was also very important for me because of her work and herself as a person inspired me a lot to believe in my search as an artist as something genuine, introspective and spiritual.
I am very inspired by nature and more by the world of plants and the connection that we both have. I love that Berlin has so many parks because there I can get very inspired and feel close to nature.
Which mediums do you use in your work, and what appeals to you about them?
Right now I work with figures that are plants and humans-animals at the same time. I call them: Flowers of Time. These figures make me think and feel a lot about us humans and our dependence on plants. When I am a painting I experience this dialogue. I feel and paint the energy from the Sun that the plants absorb, and give us as oxygen. I feel and paint the parts of my body, that sometimes are with concentrated energy and with feminine or masculine elements like the flowers.
I give meanings to each color I use, so when I am painting I feel those meanings converted into images and their combination gives more ways of feeling those interpretations. It is for me like meditation and a spiritual moment, where I can feel our nature and the unification of a living organism depending on the outside world to exist.
My work is also like a game for me. I don’t want to impose some truth with it, because everyone feels differently. But I enjoy very much the world that I discover through those images and the explanations and meanings it gives me. I think it makes me more of an observer and sensible with my inner body and my surroundings. It also gives me a lot of thoughts about life, and what it is all about being alive.
I am jumping all the time between drawing, painting, and writing. Drawing gives me the freedom to be more experimental. When creating, a sheet of paper does not impose as much as a canvas. So it is easy to be faster and to not fear mistakes. I discover new ways and ideas that I can apply in painting. Writing is parallel to the other mediums. It helps me to express myself and to understand everything that is happening in my work and life. I love to see also a dialogue between visual images and writing.
What’s next for you? Feel free to share any of your future plans such as exhibitions, travels, residencies, collaborations or any other interesting information relating to your art career.
My artistic career is not full of highlights. I am very thankful for every invitation and opportunity I get to show my work. For me, the highlights are the ones when I experiment in my studio. There I can feel so much of being alive and experiment different ways of feeling and thinking about it. For me, that is all about being an artist.
Right now I am more concentrated on working and creating good works. I think my career develops slowly, but I think it is good for the evolution of my work.
On the future, I want to publish a book with my paintings and drawings in dialogue with my writings.
Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
Being an artist makes you somehow a lonely person. I need a lot of time with myself to think and to work. So it is very inspiring when I talk about art to colleagues that I admire and we feel connected, about how we see art. It gives me the power to keep on doing what I do and to feel understood. Also seeing art that I do not like at all, and that I see particularly as cold and superficial gives me the strength to believe in the importance of doing sensible work.
Can you share any fun facts about you or something that you like to do apart from making art?
I would love to create music. I try sometimes to concentrate on that part and experiment with sound, but in the end, I am very focused on painting, that I end up being only at the studio. I feel that being at the studio is kind of an addiction for me, although some days I might not do anything at all.
Interview by Rebecca Irvin for ArtMaze Magazine.