Eilen Itzel Mena
Inner Eye: Alignment, Perfection, Completion
August 8, 2020 to September 5, 2020
Eilen Itzel Mena, Stopping by for a Drink, 2020 Acrylic on Paper, 19in x 24in
Leimin space is pleased to present Eilen Itzel Mena’s Inner Eye: Alignment, Perfection, Completion, her first solo painting exhibition.
"I am an artist who is tapping into creative and spiritual energy. Making art is a connection to my ancestors."
-Eilen Itzel Mena
Informed by abstract expressionism, surrealism, and practices within the African Diaspora, Eilen Itzel Mena presents a new body of paintings along with a site specific installation rooted from a combination of her meditations, dreams, prayers, conscious, and subconscious. Experimenting with a variety of mediums such as acrylic, oil, sequins, on canvas and wood, Mena is guided by her spiritual practice, Ifa [a Yoruba system of divination], numerology, and African Diasporan symbology. As most of her works are floating head portraits in exterior settings, she attempts to convey a visual representation of spirit and energy in open space. The solid backgrounds and pattern-like environments ground the abstract motifs and hovering figures that stem from the spiritual, ancestral, and dream realms that influence her everyday life. In many of the works, we see images that speak to universal language and the African Diaspora such as cowrie shells, rainbows, swords, eyes, hearts, clouds, birds, flowers, smiley faces, and black and brown faces. Challenging Western art history as an Afro-Latina, Mena puts herself in conversation with American, Black, and Latinx art history as her work is deeply informed by her upbringing in Dominican Republic, the South Bronx, her experiences in Brazil, El Salvador, and her most recent home base in Los Angeles.
Specifically with Inner Eye: Alignment, Perfection, Completion, Mena brings to question how she can convey the spirit via painting; In what ways can she utilize physical materials to serve her spiritual practice and be used as a tool to connect and communicate with herself and her ancestors?; How can she intuitively utilize painting and abstraction to resist, meditate, and reclaim while protecting her energy and practice? With these new works, Mena gives the public a view into her vivid realm and ultimately her journey in becoming her version of a more aligned, perfect, and complete being via art making.
Eilen Itzel Mena (b.1994) is an Afro-Dominican multimedia artist, arts administrator and community organizer from the South Bronx currently based in Los Angeles. Mena graduated from the University of Southern California in 2017, a B.A. in Fine Arts. Her arts practice highlights and breaks down identity politics through the use of African Diaspora critical theory, visual culture and spiritual frameworks. In her social practice, she serves as co-director for Honey and Smoke, a global artist community and platform focused on creating space for artists to meditate on the important themes of our time through themed seasons. Honey and Smoke explores these themes through new media and interactive digital content.
Mena has shown in New York, San Francisco, Miami and London. She has been written about in publications such as The New York Times, Cultured Magazine, Mujerista, Artnet, and Hyperallergic. Mena is currently an artist in residence for Zeal’s studio incubator program in Inglewood, CA. Zeal is a creative agency and co-op creating spaces for black artists across the diaspora to thrive. Through Zeal, Mena curated the exhibition Who Owns Black Art? in Miami during Art Basel 2019.
Leimin Space : 443 Lei Min Way, Los Angeles Chinatown, California 90012
Gallery hours: Thursday - Saturday | 2-6 pm
Quotes from Eilen Itzel Mena
“I think of perfection, alignment, and completion in the mornings and through prayers. Since a lot of my images come from dreaming, including daydreaming, I tap into my inner eye a lot. I tap into it for intuition, for epiphany, for discovery….For me, when my inner eye is open, it helps me see what’s perfect, it helps me see what’s complete, and it helps me be aligned.”
“Through my work, I purposely combat western art history and art structures.”
“The colors in my work are inspired by my dreams or colors presented to me through the Orisha. Each Orisha beaded necklace has a specific color palette and this informs the color combinations in my paintings.”
“Because I’m constantly going through my dream journal, my mediations, or feeling connected to somebody that passed away through the omnipresence of nature, I mimic that traveling of frequencies through my process. I’ll stretch the canvas then take a picture of it. Then I’ll go on my iPhone and through that photo, I’ll digitally draw on it. Then I’ll paint on the canvas and then add color on my phone. Then paint and so forth. This mimics traveling from the dream realm to the canvas.”
“Through my work, I’m discovering the oneness and the wholeness of this earthly realm.”
“Years and days pass and I’m growing more. Portals are opening and closing at the same time. Hence the ‘completion’ aspect of the exhibition title. Last year I got into numerology and started thinking about personal years and one’s life path. And next year, I’ll be entering my year of completion. So right now I’m gearing towards this year of completion before another cycle starts.”