With the sharpness of a scalpel artist Diane Victor slices through society’s posturing and pretenses to expose the unsettling, the disturbing and the unjust. She approaches each of her drawings, lithographs and etchings with uncompromising intensity and relentlessly explores the human condition.
Victor experiments with different printing techniques and materials and works with smoke, charcoal, ash and stains. She refines and redefines her craft in pursuit of breaking through to the hard-core that underlies all that she interrogates.
Victor’s latest exhibition, Transcend, at the Goodman Gallery, continues the artist’s unremitting commentary on society with powerful new imagery. The artist takes another leap into the unexplored as she traverses physical and spiritual boundaries.
In the Transcend series of drawings, she draws with ash and charcoal dust. The ash of various burnt books yields different shades of grey and black as she traces individual lives seemingly passing through from one world to the next. Victor captures the impermanence of all things with the use of particularly unstable and unpredictable media. There is also reference to the funereal ‘from dust to dust’ biblical proverb – and perhaps even the Turin shroud.
The artist’s long time fascination with horses acquires a potent new symbolism in Rain Horse, 2010, and Inglorious Bastards: The general, death and the devil. In 4 Horses: Baited, 2009, and 4 Horses: Bearer, 2010, Victor throws the viewer off balance with the sheer force of the imagery as she fuses herself crouched into or on to the body of a horse.
In another new series, Birth of a Nation, Victor superimposes a set of classical stories on African and South African themes and landscapes. In her typically confrontational style she ingeniously reframes known tales such as the abduction of Europa, the Zeus, Leda and other legends within a new vernacular with characteristic humour.
The strength of Victor’s work lies in the often chilling nature of her subject matter which she then so deftly transfers on to paper. Victor does not spare herself or her subjects in her quest to unravel layer upon layer of life, death and the often violent in-between.
Transcend showed from 15 April to 22 May at the Goodman Gallery, Parkwood, Johannesburg.