Nocturnal Paintings by Eduardo Mena from Chile


why i like his work

Eduardo Mena's art is one of the most special for me.  All of us have certain images, certain art that resonates with us for the reason we cannot explain.  I will try.  His nocturnal painting are... Sad some might say.  They are the stories of the night.  They happen at night.  At night when the light is not shining at objects around us.  At night, when the external supply of energy is not coming from the Sun, when only the cold color of the Moon is above us.  


Yet, perhaps the clue in what Eduardo is trying to convey to us is in the title of one of his paintings.    Luces Invisibles.  Invisible Light.  Noctural light.  What kind of light is it?  I think it is our internal light, it is the source of energy within us.  Not the daytime light form the Sun, but the light of our hearts, spirits.  The light of the eternal hope of the boy in Luces Invisibles who despite his brown and gloom surroundings gives us hope, gives us beauty. 



Mena's work of agile and graphic brush strokes creates the night atmosphere and the melancholy of a port city.  In the words of journalist Marcela Kupffer: "Landscapes merge in the city dreamed up by Mena.  We dont know the city's exact location and its limits.  We only know that the city's streets are traversing the valley and the sea, the streets and the facades, the lights of the day and the shadows of nightfall.  Mena, the traveler, guides us through his city  with a mission: notice its tenuous landscapes, observe its inhabitants and its dark corners, watch through time that has been forgotten."


One half of Mena's exhibition are diurnal works, that is, painted in the wind under the sun, more focused on architecture,

"They are warmer and in some ways more loving, a direct reflection of this humanity, pure, poor, crazy and true. "

The other half are his nocturnal paintings. “They are classic and realistic, naive and full of tenderness, and in general they hide a good dose of beauty, made only of soul and heart.  They speak of a taciturn, very much Chilean world that cost me infinite and long solitude”


“Somber and taciturn, long, bitter, sweet and dark nights.  However, they follow a warm and dazzling light.  These have been long and difficult paintings, taciturn so to speak.” explains Mena.






I was in Valparaiso, Chile for a couple of days in November of 2018.  Wondering around the city and admiring Valpo's amazing street and graffiti art, I was trying to find some local paintings.  Unfortunately, the art galleries Google Maps or Yelp or TripAdvisor would give me were mostly closed.  As the last resort, almost ready to give up, I asked the owner of this touristy photoshop if she would recommend someone. "I am not supposed to tell you, but if you go two blocks this way and turn left, you'll see a small gallery.  They have an excellent selection".  And so I went.


And so lucky I was that I entered Eduardo Mena's solo exhibition.  I knew I loved his work from the start.  The gallery owner at first ignored me.  My dress code and my missing front tooth (oh, that's a separate story :-) didn't impress him.  But 40 minutes later, I was still in the gallery looking at Mena's work.  "Is this one available?" "Sold", the gallery owner replied.  "What about this one?".  "Sold as well".  And so almost all of Mena's nocturnal paintings were already sold.  But the centerpiece of his solo exhibition, Luces Invisibles, was strangely still remaining.  It was the one in front which Eduardo photographed himself and was the one on the front page of the exhibitions booklet.  Well, it is my day after all.


Almost an hour later and three trips to the local ATM, I had the painting in my hands.  It spent the next three weeks with me in the trunk of the car while we traversed almost 4,000 km first North to the Atacama desert, crossing the Andes to Northwest Argentina, then all the way south to Mendoza and then through Aconcagua back to Santiago.  It is still with me.  And Eduardo I have never met in person, but having seen his art, I think I have known him.  



A self-taught painter, Eduardo Mena was born in Santiago in 1964. He studied Architecture at the Catholic University of Valparaíso. In 1988 he began a series of exhibitions that have taken his works through galleries and museums in Santiago, V Region in Chile and Mexico. He worked on the project "Museo Picasso in Chile", with more than 30 natural-sized reproductions, painted and sculpted in wood.


His last exhibition was held in Valparaiso, Chile in November 2018.  The exhibition "La Aldea Del Hombre" (The Village of Man) was presented at Bahía Utópica and consisted of fivteen most recent works by Eduardo Mena.


Eduardo travels extensively through Latin America.  He resided for a few years in Mexico (Chiapas and Guanajuato), where he exhibited in multiple individual and collective exhibitions. His stay abroad is combined with periods in Valparaíso and Santiago.  His paintings collect images and impressions of life in places as diverse as New York, Mexico, La Tirana, San Pedro de Atacama, Chiloé and mainly, the port of Valparaíso. The place where it all started.