Mussel Snapper with Smoked salmon p�t� and Red Roman.

JANNIE van Heerden portrays all kinds of cuisine from Indian, Chinese and Thai to French, Afrikaans and English foods through the paintings in his exhibition entitled “Foodscapes” which runs at the Artisan Contemporary Gallery.

But why did he decide to base his subject matter on food?

According to the artist, food is the most common denominator.

“Everybody is interested in food and it is a wonderful means of multicultural communication. The exhibition is there to enjoy, and let’s hope it whets your appetite.”

Van Heerden’s preferred medium is oils. He says the medium allows one to develop and change and allows for artistic growth.

He says his fascination for art and food became intertwined as he was passionate about both.

“I was always interested in art even at school, I participated in shows and won prizes.

“After school, I attended Rhodes University where I completed my Masters in Fine Art. But I was always interested in food as well… After completing my art degree in 1968, I got a job at Lanzerac Hotel in Stellenbosch and they sent me to France to train as a chef. I worked as a chef for four years but then opted for teaching art as it provided me with time to paint.”

Van Heerden also completed part-time courses in printmaking and photography at Hull Regional College of Art in the UK. He has lectured in art, printmaking and visual arts and design at various universities and has displayed his work in group exhibitions with the Grahamstown Group across South Africa.

He has also had successful solo exhibitions at the Fort Hare Art Gallery, South African Association of Arts Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts among others.

“The biggest challenge,” he says, “was to gain confidence in my artistic abilities. There are many artists out there and there is always somebody better. But my main aim as an artist is to communicate ideas.

“Ideas mill around in my mind for a long time. It might be based on something I see or even in dreams. Sometimes, one sees the end product in one’s mind, but it is a long process and struggle to eventually get there, in other words to satisfy yourself,” he adds.

• The Foodscapes exhibition runs until May 17 at the Artisan Contemporary Gallery on Florida Road, Morningside. For information, call Ingrid on 031 312 4364