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Behind the Canvas: Life in Lockdown through the Eyes of Local Artist, Razia Myers

Art is an eloquent form of expression where a blank canvas and paint-dipped brush are for some the best form of manifesting emotions and feelings, and nobody does it better than Capetonian artist, Razia Myers. Drawing inspiration from the nationwide lockdown, she painted a series of beautiful, thought-provoking works that vividly express the effect of the life-changing experience we have all endured. I chatted with Razia to find out more about her incredible journey and what makes her tick. 

Softly spoken and infectiously passionate about life and her work, Razia Myers exudes a vibrant energy and light that clearly shines through in her work. Best known for painting nudes and portraits, Razia found that she needed to find a way of releasing the myriad emotions she was feeling during the lockdown and began to delve into the genre of abstract expressionism. 

Working on large-scale canvasses, the self-motivated artist produced a series of nine abstract paintings that journey through the different phases of lockdown, reflecting the heightened sense of state, and the thoughts and feelings that were shaped during this time.   

“I had so many conflicting emotions about what was happening around me and the uncertainty of life that I felt as if something had to be done to release all those feelings,” she said. 

There is a clear transcendence in her works, following the emotions that came to the fore during each stage of the lockdown. Her first piece reflects an awakening – a quiet serenity, highlighting a new world in which man has been removed, leaving nature to her own devices. 

Her paintings during level four of the lockdown, like the striking blue and yellow maze, echo the staccato-like decisions of the government and the back-and-forth of indecision that had a major influence on one’s psyche. Another more reflective piece is inspired by her long walks in De Waal Park and feelings of release from the prison she was living in. 

Darker moments are expressed in the work which shows the spirits of the dead being released into heaven, while enlightenment comes through in the ocean-inspired pieces boasting cobalt blues and spiral shells. Razia said she drew energy and inspiration from the ocean to release her emotions and revitalize her spirit. 

Spiritual Journey

Deeply spiritual, Razia attests much of her inspiration to God and believes that the power of faith is inextricably linked with freedom of expression. 

“I believe God has given me a purpose and speaks through my art. The Bible is my source of inspiration and natural wonders like the spiral shells in my ocean pieces and the Twelve Apostles standing sentry as men reflect this.”

She says her journey has been long and sometimes hard, but she has always found the strength to rise to the challenge and never give up. 

“If you put your mind and soul into something, you can make it work. It is hard work, but worth it.”

From IT to Art

Razia’s journey began in the Information Technology Sector (IT) where she worked for two decades, moving up through the ranks to become Chain Manager for a large retail firm. Her career took a turn after a personal experience, which led her to begin searching for more meaning and purpose in her life. She travelled abroad with her husband and after taking a creative course in India, found the artist within. 

Razia began her tutelage under two well-known Capetonian artists, as well as taking up live drawing classes at the Ruth Prowse School of Art, which she still enjoys today. In 2016, she was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Arts Residency Masterclass in Civita Castellana in Italy where she studied and developed her skill amongst other high calibre artists. 

Beyond the Canvas

Razia’s second passion is food and she is involved in the Lockdown Story-Telling Group Project, a Facebook initiative started by Irma Jones that brings people together to share their love for food, cooking, and storytelling. A recently held competition within the group saw Razia form part of an 11-person team who had to create and cook their favourite recipes and tell the story behind them. Razia was invited to paint the dishes and produced some exquisite, brightly coloured works that are nothing less than mouth-watering. 

Razia’s journey from figurative portraiture to abstract expressionism and beyond has been challenging, inspiring, and transformative, and it shows in every one of her magnificent works of art.