Leila Fanner

Leila Fanner


Leila Fanner is a painter and illustrator. Born to a South African artist and an African American musician, she was raised in South Africa and currently works from her studio in the Cape.

After graduating from The JHB National School of the Arts Johannesburg, Leila trained in graphic design and water-colour painting, holding her first exhibition in 1993 at the age of 23. Her current medium is oil and oil pastel on wood and canvas. She regularly exhibits in annual group exhibitions locally and recently in New York at the Harlem Fine Arts Show. She has held 3 solo's to date and has been a headline artist for four years taking part in Solo Studio's, an annual fine art event in Riebeek Kasteel. Leila received a Highly Commended award in the UK Rise Art competition 2018, juried by an impressively accomplished panel including Gavin Turk, Fiona Banner and David Bailey.

Leila Fanner's paintings have appeared in Britain's Vogue Gallery, SA Art Times and Harlem Fine Arts Magazine among others. Her works are both figurative and non-figurative, distinguished by her use of dark or silhouetted figures, prolific patterning, bold colour and South African florals. Through her art, Leila unfolds a story about the soul's journey within the material world, often referencing African flora and fauna, tribal jewelry and fabric patterns and folklore.

Her process is intuitive and having been raised in a family of women, displays an unapologetically feminine perspective. Leila's work-flow in her approach to creativity and self-expression remains free of scholastic rules.

Raised within the artistic atmosphere of a creative family, spanning two continents, Leila's education into the visual arts and influences came via her exposure to many philosophical discussions and the guidance of creative mentors during her formative years. Her application, choice of mediums and skill developed as a result of a continuous quest for experiential learning.

Leila Fanner's art is held in public and private collections in South Africa and


c. 1600, from Middle French enthousiasme (16c.) and directly from Late
Latin enthusiasmus, from Greek enthousiasmos "to be inspired or possessed by God, be rapt, be in ecstasy," from entheos "divinely inspired, possessed by God"

People often don't realise that artists work mostly in solitude. Falling into painful thoughts and memories is common, as art creation is a deeply cathartic experience. The dominant focus as I work is the quality of my thoughts and the connection to uplifting emotion during the creative process. I need to create from a place of inspired action or enthusiasm.

Keeping my mental focus clear, honest and joyful is a discipline similar to meditation.
This is the unseen work.

My subject matter explores the symbolic language of dreams and the subconscious landscape of emotions from a very personal, distinctly feminine perspective. Creative expression is often seen as a form of therapy, but for me it becomes a celebration, a revelation rather than angst and drama. Even though my work is not completely devoid of those states, I find I am not using the creative process to work through something - as I have in the past - I am experiencing the process as a mantra of loving attention and open-hearted acceptance of what is unfolding in my personal world and the world at large.