Diane Victor, renowned artist and printmaker who has established herself as a major figure in South Africa and internationally, was born in Witbank, South Africa. Known for her highly satirical and visceral social commentary of contemporary South African politics, Victor embraces taboo and controversy in her prints and drawings to depict transition in South Africa after apartheid and the lingering racial divide, corruption, and gender inequity that continue to haunt the political environment.

Victor received her BA Fine Arts Degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, in 1986. In addition to graduating with distinction and winning various awards, Victor also became the youngest recipient of the prestigious Volkskas Atelier Award in 1988.

Victor’s smoke portraits explore subjects often overlooked, for example South African prisoners awaiting trial and missing children. These portraits capture individuals caught in a vulnerable moment, an idea reinforced through the impermanent nature of the medium used.Victor utilizes drawing media to capture both the subject’s portrait and vulnerable condition that is somehow in-between presence and absence. Victor is attracted to the direct correlation between the fragility of human life and the susceptibility of the physical image. For Victor, “the portraits are made with the deposits of carbon from candle smoke on white paper. They are exceedingly fragile and can be easily damaged, disintegrating with physical contact as the carbon soot is dislodged from the paper. I was interested in the extremely fragile nature of these human lives and of all human life, attempting to translate this fragility into portraits made from a medium as impermanent as smoke itself.

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Diane Victor


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