Daniel Meakin is originally from Manchester but has called Barcelona home for the last decade. The sunny climate, unique architecture and tradition in the arts appealed to his artistic ambitions. When asked to describe his work he decisively gives the following words: “whimsical, doodles, naïve.” His self-description is not self-deprecating – it is purely honest.
He uses mainly acrylics to paint his vibrant and textured patterns that evoke a sense of seeing the world through a kaleidoscope. His latest “Mini Meakins” are small A4 paintings of abstract shapes and patterns bursting with bright colors in an exciting composition.
This photo reportage shows Meakin’s work in his environment in Barcelona and will consider the subconscious influences the city may have on Meakin’s work.
Meakin found that his style matched Barcelona’s energy and bright colors. With the sun nearly always shining, he found his work changed compared to working in cloudy Manchester. “The weather and sun really affects how you work and your mood, you know, and I think it really benefited my style and felt I had more potential here than in Manchester.”
“I love the idea of Gaudi and Miro’s colors and textures. I guess there is maybe influence subconsciously of them, but it’s not forced.” His kaleidoscopic patterns share the whimsicality of Gaudi tile work from Parc Guell, for example. Meakin says his use of oil pastels is “influenced by architecture more than anything else.”
Meakin also credits Barcelona’s art community to helping his work. Compared to other cities, such as New York, it’s easier to find your own place in the artist community. “It’s non-elitist… It’s not about who you know and it’s open to new ideas.” “All neighborhoods have distinct characters in their galleries – some are established and there are clear definitions of painting – experimental, etc.”
“There’s something new every night. Spaces are diverse – people use pubs, anything. It’s non-elitist – use whatever space you have.”
Another factor that helped transform the creative community of Barcelona was the switch to the Euro currency in 2002. It brought in more internationals, which brought more business and created new programs to encourage and support creative industries. Culturally barren areas were redeveloped with the help of government to encourage smaller outfits to attract more artists and locals.
As of May 2011, Meakin’s art is on display at Gracias Arts Project (GAP), a non-profit artist platform, and at MTX, a woman’s clothing boutique owned by Mertxe Hernàndez.
GAP is a non-profit platform supporting artists by promoting all kinds of events for film, music, exhibitions, books, and multimedia. They have offices in the Gothic quarter where internationals work and show their pieces in this hub of culture and art.
Upon entering Gracias Arts Project, Chris, the director of the gallery, tells Meakin two of his pieces sold to tourists. “You’ve cracked what it means to be an artist in these economic times.” Meakin’s bright colors and optimistic patterns lift spirits in uncertain times.
MTX is in the El Borne neighborhood in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona. El Borne is one of the oldest areas in Barcelona and is now a hip spot full of stylish boutiques and cafes. Hernàndez gives samples of her fabric to Meakin to use in his paintings that she displays around her store. Hernàndez’s fabrics inspire Daniel with the variety of colours, patterns and textures.
It is this openness to new ideas and cooperation among all kinds of artists that propels art and creativity in Barcelona.
Website of the artist http://www.danielmeakin.eu/