Biography

Hermann Mejía is an American visual artist with Latin American roots. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, he currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. As a teenager, Mejía become involved in the street art scene in his native Caracas, painting street corners and main thoroughfares in the city with distinctive tags and murals. Mejía pursued his interest in art making, studying illustration and painting at Caracas Design Institute, and through his subsequent collaboration with MAD Magazine - which began in 1997, and continues to the present day.

Alongside his work in comics and illustration, in 1995 Mejía began exploring fine arts as a means of personal expression, developing a unique painterly language that blends together elements of street art, cartoon illustration and contemporary abstraction.

In his work, Mejía’s dissolves scenes of daily life into dynamic compositions, blending elements of figuration and abstraction to alter the perception of reality through the prism of painterly illusion. Inspired by the striking landscape of his native Venezuela, as well as the urban jungle of New York where he resides, Mejía distorts, deconstructs and abstracts figurative elements through his broad, colourful and gestural brushstrokes. Figurative shapes, faces and bodies evaporate, implode and fragment to create a whole where the referent object is not always visible at first sight. Only through careful consideration of the painterly chaos can the eye of the viewer make sense of the subject matter beneath the abstract composition.

Hermann Mejía’s work has been featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions in the USA and internationally. His work has recently been the subject of a retrospective at the Contemporary Museum of Caracas, Venezuela.

Artist's Statement

"I create because it allows me to communicate very complex and abstract ideas and emotions in a very articulate form. My work is also my main form of introspection, meditation and therapy all rolled into one. I discover myself and I discover existence with each piece. During my entire life in the creative path, I never approached the process with a rigid or fixed purpose or theme. But when I look back to my work throughout the years, it is obvious to me now that there are general streams and currents of inspiration that recur and seem to be latched to my unconscious.

Tension is probably my central exploration. I seem to be usually drawn to melancholy, violence, tragedy, life, death and oblivion, but always in a context of tension. The power and the conflict that derives from the tension is probably my main fascination.

The emotions linked to the things that could have been but never were... The idea of loss. Loss of spaces, loss of possibilities. The fight against the loss and the stress embedded in that battle. The resulting ruptures with all the energy that's liberated in the process.

With any of my works, the sensation that drives me to start any piece is hidden from me until then end, when it gets finally revealed! The initial idea is a first step, a blueprint with a vague proposal of a path to follow; for me, to create requires being able to listen to the needs of the piece being developed. Even though each work is born from an idea, to constrain myself to it would mean losing, out of stubbornness, other chances of discovering myself.

In my creative process I mostly start by collecting references from life, from photographs, from the web... The images are diverse; as a group they do not form any kind of unit, nor suggest anything in common. What I find attractive in them are certain details that may seem trivial: a hand, a smile, a cigarette, a gesture, a collection of branches, a certain angle... those details remind me of something, make me feel longing in some cases, in others tenderness, anguish; they leave their contexts of origin to become part of the contexts that form me; to become my sensations. In the way of a mental collage I regroup them, deform them, force them; turn them into beings, into forms, into shapes. In some rare occasions our relationship goes along harmoniously, but more frequently I notice in them the rejection of one who has undergone a transplant. That fight to impose order on our way to disorder, to arrive to a soothing state of tension is, in general, what I search for."

Hermann Mejia