Daniel Correa Mejía: Cuando el depredador está lejos: los pájaros cantan (When the predator is far away: the birds sing) | Maureen Paley Studio M

I need to stop writing about pretty, decorative, but ultimately unchallenging art. It’s not really what I should go to galleries for.

I’m breaking my own rule, then, because after featuring Hannah Levy’s bulging glass and steel sculptures last week, this week it’s Colombia-born, Berlin-based painter Daniel Correa Mejía. I saw an impressive show of his paintings and sculptures at Mor Charpentier in Paris last year; now, he’s in London, with a set of thick red-and-ultramarine oils on jute, depicting supernatural nude figures. They’re sweet and satisfying as an ice cream on a summer’s day, but they’re also already melting from my memory.

The artist employs a visual lexicon that’s as tight as his colour palette. Flowers, seeds, trees and an evening sky surround his brick-red nudes. One of these clutches an armadillo to his muscly chest; another morphs into a dolphin, diving into a calm sea.

Daniel Correa Mejía ‘Volver’ (2023) Volver (2023)

Correa adds in the show notes, with charming silliness: “When painting I find calm in solitude, but I also find companionship in other living beings; the animal and vegetable. The elemental beings act as allies, extensions, and reflections of myself.”

Formidable craft enables all this. Jute is an unforgiving natural material to paint on. It requires vigorous strokes; it leaves narrow margins for error. So it’s impressive that the artist can play so gorgeously with his painted evening light, shadows on skin, feathers and leaves. On a couple of the works, he stitches some sharp sticks onto the jute canvas, with golden thread.

But, ultimately, there’s a static sameness to Correa’s figures. Despite the show’s title, there seems to be no possibility of these compositions being disrupted by a predator, ever. The artist’s defaulting towards gorgeousness leaves us charmed, momentarily. We’re caught up, then we move on, ultimately unsatisfied, due to the sameyness. Or maybe that’s the royal ‘we’ and there’s a depth of interpretation to these works that I simply missed.

Either way, I’m going to feature something more challenging next week.

Daniel Correa Mejia: Cuando el depredador está lejos: los pájaros cantan (When the predator is far away: the birds sing) is at Maureen Paley Studio M (London). 31 May - 14 July 2024