The fightback of an escape artist
Diane Victor - Solo Exhibition - Goodman Gallery
18th January to 1st February 2003
Diane says the following on her upcoming show -
'The body of work to be exhibited for this exhibition, is divided into two primary components, namely Printmaking and Drawing.
The prints include large-scale etchings similar to, and including the pieces recently exhibited at the Sasol Wax Works Exhibition, and which were awarded first prise in their category. These etchings included mezzotinted shaped plates in combination with deep blind embossing, depicting aspects of the human condition as related to religious and fetish archetypes/ stereotypes. I am interested in the contrasting extremes of the black and white surfaces as a device that heightens the tension in the subject matter. This tension is further emphasised in the negative and positive shapes of plates and embossings: the densely saturated blackened and modelled forms contrasted the linear and shaped embossing's which are defined only through the shadows they throw into the recesses of the paper. This sets up a play between the delicate whiteness and the intense density and saturation of the black printed image.
This interest in extreme contrast is taken further into some of the drawings which have been initially embossed in a printing press and then developed with dense, solitary and isolated charcoal images, the results are far quieter than much of my previous work. Some of the images function through a rather "dark" sense of humour, while others are more openly critical. Although formal aesthetics are of greater importance in these images they still are secondary to my main intention which is an ongoing observation and exploration of human interaction on both physical and psychological levels. The tensions and abrasions that these interactions cause in our daily lives are what drives my image making processes.
Also included on this show is the completed series of "Disasters of Peace" a collection of etchings that has been in progress for the last 3 years. This will be the first time that the series will be exhibited in its entirety. This series of 16 small plates are responses to incidents and actions, reported in our local media, of the increasing and continuous acts of social and criminal violence, the ongoing unnecessary deaths in our society. The initial inspiration for the series was taken from Goya's series of etchings, "The Disasters of War" made in the early 1800's as a direct response to the atrocities of the Franco / Spanish peninsular war of that time. I hope to finalise this series of etchings in a very limited edition collectors book for the show. The exhibition at Goodman Gallery is an opportunity to pull together the two main aspects of my image - making interests as they have developed since my last exhibition there in 1998. My concerns in many cases are similar but the treatments and approaches to the subject matter has altered.'
Obsessive Worker - Passionate
" I'm not a very verbal person. If I had to write or talk all the time I would never create. "
But when she did start talking - about her frustrations, passion for her work, the sorry situation of local artists - she spun a web of words as careful as her perfectly - executed drawings ".
Formal training was at Wits, fine arts department where she was 'hammered' and made terrified of color '
There is not the economy to support it in this country and there are very few art prizes
Spend nine months at the Cite de Artes in Paris - where she mingled with artists around the world - spending time in gay bars just watching the people.
- she is a great observer - but although - she felt like a tourist - couldn't speak French - wandering around in a semi-illiterate daze.
The work she did in Paris frustrated her - to a point where she believed all the pieces on exhibition suffered from a large dose of overkill.
The isolation , being too far away from her country where the issues are pertinent ( appropriate) and all she had was herself - her face. ' always looking around for material '.
Home again - she found herself back under the financial sword of Damocles again. - hate pricing work - degrading. Prefer people to rather to be honest - - rather than secretly detest what they saw.
Diane Victor - Playing with Fire
'With recurring regularity, our 'pillars of society' have been shown as not living up to society's expectations and are in many cases exposed as the perpetrators of the very violations that they are supposed to protect others from.'
In her body of work, as a finalist of the Sasol wax art award, Johannesburg artist Diane Victor explores the effects of social and moral corruption and 'forma male social conventions.'
Victor, who obtained ber BA FA at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1986 has become recognized as one of the countries top visual artists. She continues to exhibit regularly both locally and internationally particularly through the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg and Michael Stevenson Contemporary in Cape Town. She has an extensive academic career, having worked as a part-time lecturer since 1992 at various tertiary institutions - most consistently at Pretoria university but also at Rhodes university, UJ, TUT, Wits university, and Vaal Technikon - teaching Drawing and Printmaking.
says Victor of her unique working style, 'My art making is an integral part of my daily routine/life. I follow what's probably seen as a relatively obsessive working process. I am by nature a night worker and often work 'till early hours of morning - I feel that a sense of obsession or passion is integral to image making and this is often enhanced through prolonged physical work periods and some sleep deprivation.'
Victor was selected from 125 nominations as one of the 5 finalists who will stand in line to win the R 13 000 Sasol wax art award, the countries newest accolade for professional artists.
In proposing her body of work for the exhibition, Victor was interested to explore the medium of smoke drawing in a more involved manner. As a departure from the large scale embossed etchings for which she has become known, this body of work focuses on images made from drawing with the smoke of a candle, and the carbon residue that it leaves on paper.
Using portraits of victims of many kinds of abuse (proliferated by social situations such as poverty, as well as individuals), Victor will highlight the failings of society's 'gaurdians', those representing institutions which are meant to protect, in a country where crime, poverty and transgressions of one person against another are rife and particularly brutal.
Says Victor, 'Smoke is not an accurate medium, or a permanent one.
This carries significance in relation to the depiction of these people.
Sadly so many people in our country seem only to leave behind impermanent images of short lives.'
Website of South African Artists