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The Protea, Patterns and Portraiture with Anina Deetlefs

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

Artist Anina Deetlefs

Anina Deetlefs is a Cape Town-based artist whose current pieces can be distinguished by beautiful floral patterns and expressive portraiture. She however is not afraid to experiment with her style and her work has evolved from pure illustration to figurative works with a deep symbolic tenant through to portraiture. Artiste Culture was fortunate to speak with her and learn about her mixed media technique in creating portraits. She elaborated on how she uses her personal battles and experiences to inspire themes within her art and how her works are influenced by her culturally rich home country of South Africa.

Diana - oil and pen on canvas

Anina was introduced to the art world at a young age which naturally led her to find a career as an artist. Her father is an avid art collector and throughout her childhood, she visited many galleries and was exposed to a wide range of artists. Her parents played a huge role in her success as an artist, instilling in her the importance of discipline and hard work which she believes has helped her succeed in her art journey.

Thrive - oil and ink pen

Studying graphic design and working in interior design influenced her unique style. Anina is inspired by the clean lines of mid-century design as well as contemporary design and enjoys the juxtaposition of combining these styles. The bright and colourful patterns within her portraits is a nod to her love of retro wallpaper patterns from the 60s and 70s.

Deetlefs has a mixed-media process for creating her paintings. She begins with a picture from her library of faces which is cut and digitally overlaid with a combination of floral patterns. Anina uses this rough plan to create her painting with the use of pens and oil paint. This process from the rough plan to canvas incorporates a range of her artistic skills and plays between portraiture, floral design and mixed media. She allows the concept of her pieces to form and grow while she paints and finds that the figures in her portraits begin to evoke certain emotions as the piece takes shape. However, she is guided by the strong themes portrayed in her work.

Ebb and Flow - oil on canvas

The themes incorporated in her works focus on the human experience touching on the identity of womanhood, relationships, childhood, memories and cultural heritage. Her works focus on the human experience whether it is her series “Skin Solo” exploring the relationship between our life experiences and how it is represented on our skin or “Heritage” which explores our connection to our ancestors and cultural identity. Anina’s authenticity shines through as she draws inspiration from her personal life experiences.

Eshe - oil and ink pen on canvas

Deetlefs is heavily influenced by the diverse cultures in South Africa calling it a ‘melting pot.’ The protea which is the South African national flower features frequently in her work. The flower symbolises strength and endurance which she believes reflects the strong endearing spirit of South Africans as they navigate the political and economical hardships within the country.

In discussing portraiture as a style Anina explained why the human face is an incredible feature to capture as an artist. She believes that the human face is one of the most powerful channels of communication portraying so many varying emotions from joy, surprise and empathy to rage and curiosity. Anina adds that in using the human face as an inspiration, it is the artist's role to capture the energy portrayed, put it onto canvas and expand on the emotion being evoked.

Anina aims to continue creating works that bring joy and upliftment to its viewer. In the future, she sets her sights on delving into new themes exploring the continual flow of life and our common connection to one universal energy.

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