• Leandri Erlank

    Leandri Erlank
    • Artist Statement
      • Skin, be it that of an animal or a human being, has always fascinated me, and has been the inspiration behind most of my work. Skin is the barrier between the internal and the external. Often it can represent both beauty and the grotesque - strength and weakness. My drawings of people with albinism mostly depict children, conveying a sense of vulnerability which is directly contrasted by the determined expressions they hold.
        When reading about the facts and reports on albino killings, you will find it almost impossible to believe that you are not reading about events that took place in ancient history. However, in today’s society the brutal murder of people with albinism is still an ongoing crime. People living with this skin condition are being hunted down and slaughtered like animals for their body parts, which is then sold for making muti with the promise of becoming rich and powerful. With the drawings of people with albinism I hope to create an awareness amongst the viewer about the killings.
    • Biography
      • Selected Exhibitions & Awards


        Sasol New Signature Finalist
        Tokara Wine art top 20
        Marie Stander Student end of year exhibition
        Keith Diederick awards exhibition (for top marks in class of 2014)
        Ava Gallery exhibition of promising graduates 2015

        Gradex Final year exhibition (curating team)

        Sasol New Signature Finalist

        Group exhibition: Iziko Sa National Gallery Annexe

    • Interview
      • Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?
        I am very interested in the way art and décor are merging at the moment in South Africa. Artists like Ruan Hoffmann is the reason why the bowl on your coffee table turns into a work of unique art.
        On a different level, art that focus on the process of the artmaking and the concept behind it has always been something I strive towards. Sculptor’s Paul Edmunds, Nicholas Hlobo and Nandipha Mntambo inspire me in that area.
        Other artist I find very interesting and inspirational are Steven Cohen, Marlene Dumas and Penny Siopis for the way they stay true to their art and being. Their creations never fail to provoke emotion.
        Three women who played a vital role in my drawing style will always remain an inspiration is artist’s Elizabeth Gunter, Ledelle Moe and Marie Stander.

        Which South African deceased artist do you most admire and why?
        Although born in Belgium, Father Frans Claerhout played a massive role South African art. Inspired by the people surrounding him, Claerhout believed that art and inner feelings go hand in hand, thus creating touching pieces of work. Using the money made from his art, he built homes, sponsored education for numerous children, funded churches and chapels and bought eight vehicles to transport those in less fortunate positions. His art is one of the few to me that is accepted by almost everyone. From the everyday housewife to the greatest art collector. That is an achievement worth admiring.

        Which exhibition that you have visited made the greatest impact on you and why?
        Recently I visited a small exhibition of the artist residing in Jamestown, close to Stellenbosch. It was part of the annual strawberry festival that the town hosted. Marie Stander, a local artist, uses the people of the town as models for her charcoal drawings. There was a very old couple that she drew a few years back. Aged and tiny, they were the celebrities of the evening with everyone taking pictures of them with the drawing. It was amazing to see art breaking down barriers between people of various backgrounds.

        Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
        All of my work is very conceptual and mostly driven through emotion. When an issue arises that is close to my heart I will take some time to investigate it. Things that are different interests me. The difference for example in skin, whether it be of an animal of a human being, has always fascinated me. I think that has been the inspiration behind a most of my thought.

        Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?
        Although known to be a messy artist (and being completely covered in charcoal while drawing), I like to clean my entire space before starting with a new work. I also like to do quite a bit of research on the topic I am investigating with the work. Praying about the work before I start makes me trust in the end-result.

        What do you like most about being an artist?

        Being an artist, I can experience how rewarding it is to create something. Going through the different processes and emotions before and while creating a new piece. The climax of stepping back and seeing your work grow as you struggle through progress is something not everyone experience on a daily basis.  

        How do you handle bad days when you experience artist's block?

        Most of my ideas develop when I stop thinking about the fact that I have to produce something. Being able to let your mind go, but still being just enough in control so that you can recognize a viable idea. I know this to be true, yet I always experience an emotional “breakdown” right before the breakthrough. I think in a way the emotional rollercoaster tires me out so much that eventually my mind is allowed to become quiet- in which time the idea will appear.

        What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?

        Being selected twice to take part in the Sasol New Signature’s exhibition and selling my first work.

        Do you feel that you want to make a difference to the world or in people's lives? If yes, how?
        I definitely want to make a change in people’s lives, even if that means only one person is affected by my art. I believe that art should make the viewer feel something, not necessarily by being beautiful. Whether the feeling provoked in the viewer is disgust or anger- it still holds the same value to me. Feeling drives people to make a change, and visual art is a tool to enable that change. Currently my subject matter is people affected by albinism. Creating an awareness towards their struggles is already making difference.

        What are your plans for the coming year?

        I plan on continuing with my subject matter and maybe creating a series on Albinism. I also want to explore the field of working with ceramics and modern décor.