At the center of Leila Fanner’s works you’ll usually see a dark, mysterious female figure, like a deep shadow within a lush landscape. Her artworks express something almost metaphysical. She draws inspiration from the flora and fauna in her home country of South Africa and by Art Nouveau artists like Gustav Klimt. She dresses her motifs, quite literally, in shimmering fabrics with intense colors and decorative elements which carry powerful symbolic expression and elegance that flow and nestle richly within the emotive spirit of the image.
Her approach to painting is intuitive, yet the influence of the Art Nouveau movement is significant within her paintings. Artists like Charles Rennie Mackintos, Gustav Klimt and Alfons Mucha were her role models. While her own style grows and develops, frames of reference to these artists can be found within her work. Like in a Klimt piece, a gown may be speckled with shimmering sequins. Or she may use abstract, richly-colored forms to structure her pictorial space à la the symbolists and naturalists. The constant in her work remains to be the painterly unity of the centered female figure and her background.
She was only 23 years old and had just graduated from the JHB National School of the Arts in Johannesburg when she had her first exhibition in 1993. Her works have appeared in Vogue Gallery, SA Art Times and Harlem Fine Arts Magazine. Others are found in private collections in South Africa, Germany, France, Kenya, England, Ireland and the USA. Leila Fanner exhibits regularly in annual regional group shows, most recently in New York at the Harlem Fine Arts Show. In addition to figurative painting, her artistic practice also includes abstract painting and illustration. -Stephan Reisner
Leila Rose Fanner, The Offering 2020 / 2021
Leila Rose Fanner, PICNIC series No.3
Leila Rose Fanner, Tears of Joy, 2020 / 2021