Michael Meyersfeld is an award-winning fine art photographer based in Johannesburg, South Africa. His work explores constructed societal patterns which translate into his characteristically eerie yet somber photographs. Meyersfeld’s process requires the complete immersion into his subject, riddling the images with a degree of solitude and stillness. His work is currently on exhibit at the Pretoria Art Museum, South Africa (28 Oct’ – 31 Jan’ 2016).
SM: You recently had an exhibition in Johannesburg. First off, congratulations! The selection of art is beautiful. It seems that you naturally fell into photography, through your studies and time in advertisement. How did you develop away from commercial photography towards Fine Art photography?
MM: My involvement with photography began with Fine Art, and that was when I was a teenager, and also during the period working in the family steel business. It was only when the business got sold that I entered the world of commercial photography. During this period I was very active with exhibition work, and in the last four years I have committed myself exclusively to my Fine Art work.
SM: As an artist, why does photography remain your preferred medium of expression?
MM: It is what I have grown up with. It has become an extension of my being.
Michael Meyersfeld, Sea Point Swimmers
SM: You often mention that you instinctively take photographs, through this you aim to capture an essence. Have you always been in touch with your intuition? And, how did this relationship with yourself develop?
MM: My photography broadly falls into two categories – those images that are staged, and those that are observed. It is my observed imagery that are taken on an almost instant and positive understanding of their relevance. My favourite images have always been accompanied by a heightened excitement when confronting something I consider to be important. When the relevance and the aesthetics combine, my tail wags furiously.
Michael Meyersfeld, Boys on the Roof
SM: The inspiration behind your latest exhibition pertains to the construction of stillness that societies and individuals create as a means to find peace. Where do you find your own stillness?
MM: Stillness is not a permanent state of being. Perhaps like happiness, it is something that needs to be constantly worked on. I find my own stillness in many and varied places, but mainly in our home with my wife. I find it in reading, in music, and in the appreciation of being.
SM: The colour palette within your photographs is extremely distinct. Was this an evolution or have you always found that the effect created through your palette is an effective means to portray the stillness you establish?
MM: For many years, I only photographed in black and white. I am more comfortable in monochromatic hues, and as such my use of colour tends to be subtle and muted. For me bright colours negate stillness.
Michael Meyersfeld, Sea Point Pool 1979
SM: When looking at your photographs, there is in a tension between the stillness that your photographs portray and a layer of humorous, mystical surrealism. This draws an immense curiosity from the audience, or me at least, to understand the narrative behind each photograph. Are these narratives predominantly fictional or do they reflect a semblance of your reality?
MM: When anyone is drawn strongly to the creation of something, there has to be a semblance of the author’s reality. Is it tension, or does the simplicity of the imagery evoke the illusion of tension?
SM: I would like to round of this series of questions with an absolutely unrelated question. Which book are you reading right now or did you last read?
MM: “ Wages of Guilt ” – Ian Buruma; “ Escape from Freedom” – Erich Fromm.
Michael Meyersfeld, Bare City Comfort