Born in a hospital in Durban, South Africa, 30-year-old artist Lara Meintjes now lives in Belmont Heights, which seems a far cry from her roots. “My family lived on a small holding outside the city, where I had a pet cow and several, ever multiplying, rabbits,” she says.
Asked to identify her jobs, she lists illustrator, painter, designer and general creative experimenter. “Mostly ink and paper,” she explains. “I also write and have had a whole lot of fun exploring ceramics. My most recent project involves letterpress printing.”
What would you say is your point-of-view as an artist?
I try very hard not to have a specific point of view, to explore the world through ever-changing-perspective goggles, but my brain is irreparably wired by my post-colonial, post apartheid upbringing. I believe extraordinarily firmly in the principle of Ubuntu, in which a person is a person through other people– “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu.” I think this is what I am trying to convey in my work– we are human only when we recognize and respond to the humanity in one another.
Where do you work?
In a beautifully lit corner of my house in Long Beach, that I share with my photographer husband and ever present painting, singing, dancing, movie-making 10-year-old daughter.
Why do you make art?
Art is exploration for me. It is an extension of my innate curiosity, a way in which I process and eventually–hopefully– understand the world around me. I communicate through my work and hope to engage people in activities that remind them of their own humanity and how it is contingent upon the humanity of other people.
If, for some reason, you could no longer create art, what would you do?
Write stories, study anthropology and smoke a big old Meerschaum pipe.
Is there anything that blocks you as an artist?
My entire kitchen. It is horrifyingly distracting. I guess that’s less of a block and more of a distraction then.
Do you have a favorite piece of art you’ve created?
No. I cycle through loving and hating every piece pretty regularly. The one I relate to most is the conjoined lambs.
Do you have a favorite piece of art that someone else has made?
So many answers to this question. Mary Sibande can do no wrong. Eames House in the Pacific Palisades is my happy place. It is so perfectly constructed that its lines sing their own particular song. Cy Twombly’s “Proteus” somehow re-confirms my sense of being alive every time I look at it, and Basquiat’s skull (Untitled, 1981) makes me feel mean and terrible because if it was mine, I would want to keep it all to myself. Yinka Shonibare’s “How to Blow Up Two Heads at Once” is just absolutely magical, if you haven’t seen it, do.
Do you have a least-favorite color?
I’m told it shows that I am not terribly highly evolved, but I just don’t love purple. It’s never feels like its own color, always trying to be one thing or another and never quite settling down to the business of being purple.
Meintjes’s work will be on display in a one-night pop-up gallery at the Law Offices of Kuper & Wilson, 4344 Atlantic Ave., during the First Fridays Art Walk on Aug. 1 from 6pm to 9pm. Her creations will also be part of the Relative Aperture group show at Greenly Art Space, 2698 Junipero Ave. Suite 113, in Signal Hill, which will open Saturday, Sept. 6 from 7pm to 10pm. To view more of her work, visit larameintjes.com .