Tara Deacon’s colourful illustrations convey a sense of sun-drenched warmth and the carefree delights of everyday life. Elevating the ordinary with portraits of the diverse individuals in the artist’s adopted Berlin home alongside vivid details of fruits and flora, the works reflect aspects of identity, belonging and a certain joie de vivre that is concealed in each half-smile of figures who seem to be aware of some private joke, and in the artist’s own infectious enthusiasm for her work.
“To be honest, I was never very good at drawing people and creating characters but tapped into that as a new challenge,” Deacon tells WOM. “I’m so inspired by the beautiful and diverse people and friends that surround me, and try to capture this in illustrating women of colour, shape and culture.”
Originally from Pretoria, South Africa, Deacon moved to Berlin from the Netherlands about 5 years ago, following an instinct of the heart. Both in the search of new creative inspiration and to be with her then-boyfriend, now-husband, the artist “ultimately moved to Berlin for love. The city’s people, creative energy and pace at which to find and develop something you are so passionate about made it so effortless and easy to fall in love with Berlin.”
With a background in product design, Deacon took up illustrating three years ago, “simply as a creative release and the pure enjoyment of mixing colours and how they come together in a composition.” The freedom of the art form came as a pleasant change from technical drawing, and allowed her to become more experimental with her visions of her homeland, Berlin and other travels. “I had no restrictions creatively,” says Deacon of her early explorations of different styles of drawing. “This also influenced how my style changed and grew over the years, not being scared to do something that looks strange or unrealistic.”
Inspired by the colours, patterns and shapes of everyday objects – “My apartment is filled with the things I love: plants, textiles and small souvenirs from my travels which I like to paint and draw” – as well as impressions of diverse characters, Deacon’s artworks celebrate uniqueness and individuality as well as the common experiences that connect us all.
“It started with drawing my husband in our apartment and gradually grew into taking notice of people around me and then having the freedom to draw and paint characters as I pleased,” recalls the artist. “It brings me a lot of joy and happiness being inspired by women who are proud of their bodies no matter how big or small, black or white, and I think by doing so, I hope to inspire other creatives to do the same.”
Having previously exhibited works in Berlin, South Africa and Madrid, Deacon’s latest solo show, Return, marked her first exhibition in Portugal. She is now working on a series of paintings inspired by “Matisse’s interior paintings as well as the long, cold & grey winters in Berlin” for a collective show at Salon 91 in Cape Town, as well as preparing for a residency and a return to Portugal to take part in a festival. Expect further doses of vibrant illustrations and paintings, the multi-cultural diversity of Berlin mixed with the light and colour of Deacon’s South African homeland.