Victor was born in Witbank, South Africa. She received her BA Fine Arts Degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, in 1986.

From 1990 to the present, Victor has lectured part-time, teaching drawing and printmaking at various South African institutions including the University of Pretoria, Wits Technikon, Pretoria Technikon, Open Window Academy, Vaal Triangle Technikon, the University of the Witwatersrand, Rhodes University and the University of Johannesburg.


Victor’s work uses the figure, often her own self-portrait, to create complex narratives relating to contemporary South Africa and to the more global crisis of war, corruption and violence in both the public, political and in private life. According to Virginia Mackenny, Victor’s work challenges the viewer “to scour her heavily packed images, densely rich in individual detail, to discover their levels of irony and action. Singularly devoid of any classicising hope of order, these images recall Breugal or Bosch in their pessimistic view of the world and the heaping of one folly on top of another”.[2] Victor depicts reality fraught with injustice, revealing the complexity of contemporary existence. Her “ability to present her themes and subjects in a manner that all but forces our identification with them ejects us out of our complacent stupors, whether we wish it or not.”

In her portfolio of prints, Birth of a Nation (2009), published by David Krut Projects, Victor explores the history of colonial engagement in Africa in the context of contemporary corruption and imperialism. She uses historical and mythological references as a platform to insert South African narratives, fusing a recognisable storyline with new characters and South African subjects.

In Disasters of Peace, Victor directly references Francisco de Goya’s Disasters of War. In this series, Victor evokes Goya’s criticism of the atrocities of war while demonstrating the continuation of violence after war, and in the case of South Africa, after the end of apartheid. Highlighting overlooked and everyday violence, this series draws attention to this contemporary desensitised gaze or tolerance of violence. To Victor: “The images I am working with are taken from our daily media coverage of recent and almost commonplace happenings in newspapers, on TV and on radio of social and criminal acts of violence and ongoing unnecessary deaths – occurrences so frequent that they no longer raise an outcry from our public, yet they still constitute disaster in peacetime.”

Smoke drawings
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 uses 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”‘

Solo exhibitions

2013 “No Country for old women” KKNK Festival artist exhibition in Oudtshoorn
2012 “Ashes to Ashes and Smoke to Dust”, University of Johannesburg Art Gallery
2011 Fables and Folly: Diane Victor, Recent Work at the Faulconer Gallery at Grinnell College
2011 Innibos Festival artist exhibition in Nelspruit
2010 Smoke Screen: Frailty and Failing at David Krut Projects in New York
2010 Transcend at Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg
2009 Aardklop Festival artist exhibition in Potchefstroom
2005 Smoke Drawings at Michael Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town
2003 Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg
1997 Civic Theatre commission, Tesson Theatre, Johannesburg
1994 Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg
1990 South African Arts Association, Pretoria Gallery on the Market, Johannesburg

Rankin, Elizabeth and Karen von Veh. “TAXI-013: Diane Victor.” Parkwood: 2008, David Krut Publishing Taxi Art Book.
Perryer, Sophie,ed. 10 years 100 Artists: Art in a Democratic South Africa, 2004.

2006 Finalist in Sasol Wax award
2005 Gold Medal Award for Visual Art, South African Academy of Arts and Sciences
1999 Vermont Study Center Residency, Vermont
1998 UNESCO Residency, Vienna, Austria
1997 Ampersand Foundation Fellowship, New York
1997 Joint second place, Kempton Park Art Competition
1988 Winner of the Volkskas L’Atelier Award
1986 Winner of the Sasol New Signatures Award
Press reviews

Herlo van Rensburg, “An interview with Diane Victor.” Image and Text. No.5, p. 27–31, August 1995
Herlo van Rensburg, “Purging in the work of Diane Victor: Contradiction and Convergence”, June 1996[6]
Chris Roper, “Each to his/her own”, Mail & Guardian, 8 May 1998
Brenda Atkinson, “Some gems at the end of the rainbow”, Mail & Guardian,8 April 1999 (Review of Winsor and Newton Millennium Painting Competition)[7]
Brenda Atkinson, “Clean: An Exhibition of De-saturated Contemporary Art”, ArtThrob, November 2001[8]
Daniel Thöle, “Social statements cross boundaries”, Business Day, Tuesday, 9 April 2002 (Review of ‘Transmigrations’ at Pretoria Art Museum)[9]
Sue Williamson, “Grime’ at Bell-Roberts Art Gallery”, ArtThrob, July 2002[10]
Andrea Jonker-Bryce, “More than meets the eye”, Dispatch Online, Thursday, 21 November 2002 (Review of ‘Transmigrations’ at Ann Bryant Art Gallery)[11]
Gordon Fraud, “Dianne Victor”. DESIGN ART. No 2, December 2010,[12] p. 63–73

^ a b c “Diane Victor”. David Krut Publishing. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
^ Perryer, Sophie,ed. 10 years 100 Artists: Art in a Democratic South Africa, 2004, p. 398.
^ McInnes, Jacki. “Of Fables and Folly: Diane Victor, Recent Work Catalog.”Grinnell: Faulconer Gallery, 2011
^ “Art in South Africa”. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
^ “STEVENSON Cape Town and Johannesburg”. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
^ “South Africa Gallery”. Archived from the original on 28 April 1999.
^ “Winton”.
^ “A R T T H R O B / R E V I E W S”. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
^ “Transmigration”. Archived from the original on 4 April 2003.
^ “A R T T H R O B / R E V I E W S”. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
^ “Welcome to Dispatch Online”. 12 November 2010. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
^ “DESIGN>ART No 2”. Retrieved 1 August 2013.

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