Mira Jaan is a Cape Town-based painter, model and student. Their painterly style is delineated by their evoking exploration into the scope of identity – where internal dialogues score a heuristic learning. Their focus is on portraiture, self-observation and duality. In turn, these subjects address the characteristics of the ego and its affects on oneness.

Gouache, a creamy-textured material known for its classical opaque and matt finish, is the primiary medium Jaan uses to maintain rich and lusty colours in their paintings. Each scene within their paintings is a considered and captured moment – romanticised and visually equivocal by first glance. There is an insight into their thinking, as each message in their work communicates introspection of selfhood.

What drew you to get into art and design?

I am interested in illustration, animation and design. Finding out solutions in how I can combine them all with my art style is what I’m most fascinated by. I am just really interested in the idea of creating characters instead of having realistic representations of people. And I also really enjoy the process of creating a character of myself. I use that process-thinking to express my ideas of femininity or masculinity or just scenes and situations I want to portray in my work. I also really like the medium of gouache, because it was quite flat. So it helps with the creation of characters.

Are you inspired by any certain art genres?

I am inspired by Ancient Indian arts, Ancient Hindu arts, and Japanese wood prints, because they’re all quite design orientated. It is simplified, which I enjoy. My dad works in the art world. So I have always been exposed to a lot of different art growing up.

What’s one of your first memories, relating to creating your first illustrations, drawings or any form of art?

So, my art is very subject driven and culture driven. I used to draw members of my family often. I think one of my earliest memories, I was at the train station in Rose Bank, and I sketched my Grandpa. He really liked it. That moment was probably the first time I felt like I made something really good – where I was involving the subject.

What inspired the work for this ‘Together We Joy’ campaign?

I found this image by Hank Willis Thomas of two people listening to music. So I used that as the inspiration for this work. And, I just really liked the intimacy in that image. I was thinking about the joy that comes with just an intimate moment with someone you love.

How do you interpret joy through your work?

For this work, I was thinking about and focusing on an intimate moment between two people who love each other and how they individually experience joy during that moment. With the person on the left, they are having quite a private moment that would usually be quite hidden. And they seem very much to themselves. This character is simply listening to music, whilst at the same time, they are close to someone and sharing that same moment with them. With the person on the right, I tried to convey them as a witness to that joy of someone just being themselves in the moment. The joy that comes from seeing someone that you love, just being themselves, is precious I believe. So ultimately, the focus is on the people that are experiencing love and the joy that they find just having a cute day inside.

How do you feel your personality influences the type of work you do?

I am quite a quiet and private person, and I have a big admiration for space and interior spaces. So I think gradually, I am trying to develop the backgrounds and environments reflected in my work, from how I feel about interior space and architecture. I guess I romanticise quite a lot of the things happening in my life; the scenes that I create in my work references this. I think I am really interested in the idea of duality within my own personality and identity. So that is why, for this work, I created two people who look the same and can reflect the same person, but at the same time manifesting different aspects of their identity within.

The limited-edition silk scarves are available for purchase at Creator’s Depot at R450 each. 

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