Tanja’s mojo is philosophical art

Artist Tanja Meyer with her fingerprint portrait of Nelson Mandela which will be displayed in Johannesburg galleries from this week

WHEN the glitterati espouse a common cause of saving something – be it the planet, disenfranchised people, vulnerable children or animals – few take serious notice.

Most see it for what it has become in a superficial world, clichéd raisons d’être for feel-good PR piss-ups or beauty pageant votes.

For some though, making a difference remains a life’s philosophy, working within the confines of reality of what can be achieved, yet committed to soldier on in the knowledge that small victories eventually create a collective groundswell.

For former super model, artist, writer and photographer Tanja Meyer, currently residing in Mtunzini, it is mostly about changing mindsets.

A philosopher at heart, she uses her creative artistry to visually express her humanist nature and beliefs.

‘I hardly ever paint or photograph a subject or object without a thought behind it. Either the thought happens first and I look for a visual, or a visual sparks a thought which sometimes end up in a poem or paragraph,’ she says.

But there were detours en route to reaching her ‘happy space’.

It started when the small town boere skoolmeisie from Perdekop (near Volksrust) was shoved into the limelight as Miss Teen South Africa.

What followed was a crazy lifestyle of glitz and glamour as glossy cover girl and non-stop international modelling assignments.

Despite her hectic schedule, she took time off in-between to stay with her core passion – creative art inspired by an artist mother.

A pshychology, communication science and journalism graduate from Wits Tech in Johannesburg, Meyer believes it’s up to creative people to help shift awareness about the human condition.

Her current project entails a fingerprint portrait painting range called Identity… A Place in the Sun.

‘This was inspired by the rich and vibrant culture of the Swahilis. My thoughts turned to globalization and its effects – the loss of identity of cultures.

‘Our fingerprints are all different but we all have the same needs, such as love, safety, care and nourishment.

‘We need to do more to aid human progress. There must be tolerance, compassion and respect for those who are different from us – and be delighted that we are not all the same.

‘How utterly boring and bland the world would be if we all thought the same, dressed the same and believed the same. What would create laughter, the mysterious, the wonderment that we find in individuals and in different cultures.’

Painting or photographing ‘pretty pictures’ is not what fuels her mojo. Philosophical art is perhaps the best description.

Apart from fingerprint portraits, Meyer also does brush portraits when commissioned and remains active as travel and food writer with a book in the pipeline.


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