Sasha Hartslief was born in 1974 in Gauteng. At the age of seventeen, she came to Cape Town to study English and Philosophy at UCT. Passionate about drawing from an early age, she is largely self-taught, closely observing other artists and avidly reading up on technique.
Hartslief had always been passionate about drawing, but the desire to become an artist only crystallised into a decision in 1995, when she enrolled at Cape College under the tutelage of Elizabeth Gunter.
Gunter specialised in classical drawing and introduced Hartslief to the textbook 'The Natural Way to Draw' by Kimon Nicolaides, a Greek art teacher and master of drawing, who devoted his life to documenting exercises that facilitate the shift in perception required to accurately represent an objective form.
During her studies Hartslief devoted as much as five hours a day to his exercises. She would draw at every possible opportunity, whether in shopping malls or Government Avenue, and pasted a quotation from Nicolaides above her easel to remind herself:
“If I were asked what one thing more than any other would teach a student how to draw, I should answer: Drawing – incessantly, furiously, painstakingly drawing.”
Hartslief’s subtle investigations into the human condition via the underbelly of Cape Town life somehow strike a chord with us. A taste for the dark side is suggested through subtle shows of flesh, empty bottles and haunting, hooded eyes.
"I defer to the classical Masters for inspiration," says Hartslief. Like the 19th Century French Impressionists, she uses brushstroke to evoke the transience of light, colour and movement. And like her Renaissance and Impressionist forebears, she employs everyday visual devices to explore the way in which atmospheric light and tonal modulations inform a surface, and to evoke environments and atmospheres fraught with symbolic subtexts.Her subjects are often viewed from a philosophical, deeply personal perspective, resulting in striking works that are emotionally charged, pensive in mood and considered in composition.
Since 1999, Hartslief has exhibited regularly at the Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town, including several solo exhibitions. She continues to attract a broad collector base from around the world and is clearly one of South Africa’s most exciting young talents.