When Ilana Seati first arrived in Johannesburg via Israel, it was the early ’80s and she had no formal training in the arts. Still, she began to paint passionately over the years and is now a rising contemporary artist working primarily in the mediums of oil, acrylic, and charcoal on canvas and paper.  

“After I arrived in South Africa, I attended art classes at the Johannesburg Art Foundation, under the tutelage of Bill Ainslie,” explains the artist. “I painted recreationally, on and off for 20 years, and in 2006 was approached to exhibit at the KZN gallery in Durban.”

Since then, Ilana has exhibited her work in various other shows across the country, the most recent one being her solo show at In Toto Gallery. Titled A Secret World, the exhibition is the result of six months of intense work, much of which explores the artist’s ongoing interrogation of the blurred lines between reality and the creations of our imagination.

The show – a sweeping collection of clashing colours and inspired studies of the human form – puts forward a series of imaginative understandings of the real and the unreal, and how we tend to move across the boundaries of these realities and fictions in our everyday lives.

“The manipulation of the human body has no specific connection to the real or fantasy world. What is real or fantasy is in the eye of the beholder,” explains Ilana. “I use the form of the human body to communicate with the viewer. It is a tool I use to express how I see the world and the ambiguity it represents. I try to leave the viewer’s imagination to decide what intrigues them in the work.”

A Secret World is currently on exhibition at Johannesburg’s In Toto Gallery until Monday 1 May. 

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