Interview with Artist Leila Fanner
Fortune shined upon me while perusing through Instagram. I came across the artwork of South Africa based artist Leila Fanner. Immediately, I notice her use of bold dark colors and dreamlike imagery. She has numerous exhibits (paginated listing below). Besides her exhibitions, Leila’s art is in private collections in South Africa, Germany, France, Belgium, Kenya, England and the USA. Best of all, she is gracious enough to take time out for a few short questions.
The Work of Leila Tanner (click to enlarge).
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Please tell us a little about yourself?
I am a painter and illustrator. I was born to a South African artist and an African-American musician in Los Angeles, California. I was raised in South Africa and I currently work from my studio in Riebeek Kasteel – a tiny village in the Western Cape Province of South Africa.
My work is predominantly abstract figuration and expressionism.
To begin, why do you create art?
Because I must. Hahaha. Well, almost true. I am driven to create, it is therapy as well as my livelihood. I create art to express myself, to deeper understand myself and to keep myself from going crazy out of sheer boredom : )
The first thing that stood out to be me is that a lot of your work uses bold powerful colors. How and why do you choose the colors in your work?
Colour choice is very instinctual, I don’t initially give it a lot of thought. However, once I’m getting fully engaged with the painting – once the initial drawing and idea have been set out, I then begin to organize and balance the colors and sort of start creating a color palette in my head for that specific painting. It is all about mood and emotion.
I have tons of art books, but I tend to refer to them for models of a hand or foot etc. Inspiration tends to come from dreams and meditative visions. I’m always seeking to understand or work through something that I then find a symbolic way of representing on canvas.
To you, why is art important?
It has been said in so many better ways that I could quote, but I’ll endeavor to be original: Amazing works of art allow me a visual escape route to awe, daydreams and wonder.
What is the most valuable thing you learned while attending the Johannesburg National School of the Arts?
That I didn’t want to be an actress. I studied drama!
Do you have any advice for young artists?
Yes. What I wish someone had told me: Don’t worry about finding your “style”. Keep creating and incorporating everything from artists whose work you most admire. Eventually, you will notice that you have your own specific way of doing your thing, that makes you feel excited and joyful and confident. Keep evolving. Studying art is not necessary for success if you are a natural researcher and not shy to make mistakes and take risks.
All photographs by permission of Leila Fanner