Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I was born in Medellín, Colombia. When I was eleven years old I moved together with my family to Sao Paulo, Brasil and after five years to Mexico City, Mexico. Since 2006 I moved to Germany. I regretted a lot of time that I moved so much, but now I am very thankful for my father that gave me the chance to have my life nourished with other cultures.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
With the change of Countries as a kid, I had to start over again with my life and find new friends. Those beginnings of loneliness made me go a lot within myself and explore drawing. So I was always drawing as a child and I never paid that much attention to the teachers, because I was drawing.
2003 I did a six-month period of school exchange in Germany and went to live in a small village. There I had often a lonely time, that made me explore more the expression of my feelings through drawing. One day after finishing one drawing I decided I had to start taking painting classes. So, when I came back to Mexico I started painting and since then I have never stopped.
What do you like most about working where you do?
I love being in my studio. It is kind of an addiction to me. I am on my studio for six years and love to see how the place has developed with time. I can see that I have spent a lot of time here. I love having my plants around me and see them grow. I also love to hang on my wall new inspiring found objects, like seeds, that dialogue with my work. I share also my room with a very good friend and artist Daniela Elorza. We spend much time talking about life and art, and we enrich each other a lot.
I live in Berlin, and I love that there are many parks around the city. Going from my home to the studio is always a pleasant ride. I go through the beautiful park Hasenheide and then through the airport Tempelhof, that is also a park now. biking and walking through that green so often had given me a lot of inspiration to my work. Then is where I see that everything that surrounds us, have an impact on the work we produce.
Living in Berlin is also very inspiring, so many different persons from so many different backgrounds enrich my life a lot.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I a very inspired by nature and plants and the questions about the transience of time. I explore that on my work.
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 the plants. When I am 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.
It started very abstractly. It was more delicate lines and the image of the human body was very subtle. With time it has evolved to a more figurative work. The Bodies have already faces and it is easier to see a human. I feel happy that that happened and that the change was very organic and needed.
What is your process like?
It is very diverse and I think that is important. I don’t want to be rigorous with my practice, because it affects the work. What I think is important is to be at the studio. I try to be every day there. There are days that I don’t do anything and I struggle. Others I only draw and write. The happiest days are when I paint. I think that jumping between painting, drawing, writing, reading and thinking about life is the way it works for me.
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 on 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.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
I like to see how with time painting becomes more a filter about my life. I start collecting memories, thoughts, and things that I see and reflecting them on my work. Painting is a filter of the essence of what I think is important in life.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
Being an artist is being a constant fighter. Always fighting to have the time to work. I think we artist are very strong persons because we struggle much for just enjoy the time of creation. I do now have in particular any strange memory, but I know that I have tried so many things thinks to be able to pursue my work.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
Reading the letters of Van Gogh to his brother Theo gave me much inspiration. I felt reflected on a lot of ways that he saw life and felt inspired by nature. Today art seems very confused and we see a lot of cold work, that is very rational and based on a concept. That gave me years ago a lot of doubts. And reading Van Gogh and other things that happened to me gave me the answer that art for me has to be something sensible, beautiful and honest. I am very happy I became aware of it.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
I think we should not have the fear of pursuing beauty and positive work. Art should touch people, but first, it has to move me. It should be an inner journey, where I can discover life through my observation as an astonished child. When I create my work I want to forget about everything that I have read and let my sensibility create a work, that I didn’t planed, but that just happened. Trying to have a balance between the rational and the intuitive.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
Building a community is crucial in life. To find your tribe. There are so much type of artists but is so beautiful when you find people that share with you the same sensibility and the way art should move us. Finding a community gives us so much strength. We are social beings and we need people to create and to have a companion. But it is always important to find time in solitude and to create your own world.
What is your studio like?
It is very playful. I love that there are so many colors on it. So much lillte details that communicate between them. I love to play with it and move objects through the room, creating new dialogues. I love that I have the plants there too.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
Music is very important. I listen to almost all the time music. But I like calm music that put me on a meditative state. There are some songs that I can put on a loop modus so I can be two hours while painting, hearing to the same song.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
I am kind of a self-taught artist with on and off art studies. I received three years of painting classes in Mexico City with Bettina Garro, a great artist that gave me total freedom and purposed to express my inner self.
I come from a conservative family, where art was not seen as a career option – although my parents never have 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 n 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 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.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
I do art because I feel happy when I a doing it and because I feel I am a better person through art. But when I start thinking about why I do all of that, then I get frustrated. It is very easy to start seeing that maybe it does not contribute to a better society. But if we start analyzing all jobs, it is very easy that we find them as nonsence. In the end, I conclude that I cannot imagine doing something different in my life and that at least my message is positive and that I can create awareness of nature.
How would you define “success” in art?
It is a very tricky and dangerous question. I think there are two kinds of success. The success in the studio with myself and the external success. It is normal that we tend to look for external succes because we human beings need the approval of the other since we live in a society. But I will always put first the success with my work. Feeling that I am doing honest work, that resonates with myself.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for giving artists the opportunity to share their thoughts and their work.
Find more at daniel-correa.com and on Instagram @daniel.correa.mejia!
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