Diane Victor at UJ Art Gallery this April

Diane Victor explores Folly, Frailty and Fear in her new solo exhibition at UJ Art Gallery.

Renowned South African artist, Diane Victor brings her latest solo exhibition to the UJ Art Gallery this April. From 14 April to 19 May 2021, Victor will explore the notions of folly, irrationality and stupidity in a compelling new body of work: FOLLY, FRAILTY AND FEAR, with experimental works and different processes beyond her traditional approach. Through drawing, printmaking and blackboard chalk drawings, drawings on stone, and smoke drawings printed on cloth, Victor alludes to the ramifications of foolish actions on individuals and their society.

While Covid-19 restrictions prevent a public opening event, Victor will personally live-stream a virtual walkabout on 14 April 2021 from 18h00 through the UJ Art Gallery’s Moving Cube – the gallery’s digital platform. This is a fantastic opportunity for art-lovers and Diane Victor devotees around South Africa and worldwide to delight in her new body of work and pose questions to the artist. The exhibition can thereafter be viewed on Moving Cube and at the gallery, on Wednesdays, by appointment only.

The physical exhibition at the UJ Art Gallery ends on 19 May 2021 while the 3D virtual exhibition can be viewed on Moving Cube until May 2022.

The exhibition references Desiderius Erasmus’ text ‘In Praise of Folly’ (1511) and ‘Das Narrenschiff’ translated as ‘Ship of fools’ by Sebastian Brandt (1494) as well as more recent explorations of foolish actions, untruths and misinformation in an attempt to understand the history of stupidity. Foolish behaviour can have, as Erasmus parodied, the potential to offer a seemingly lighter side to living.

Victor is intrigued by Erasmus’ approach to satire and the way he used satirical writings to critique the powers of the time, especially since her work has always been strongly underpinned by humour.

Fools are happy, while those who think and question tend to gravitate towards dour depression. However, with fool’s envy, fool’s paradises and fool’s pride abounding, the danger of falling victim to unwise choices flourishes. Wealth, pleasure and popularity are favoured over greater critical thinking. This self-centred blindness leads to societal injustice and anger and ultimately to intolerance and violence. In a society with an abhorrent tendency to classify and divide, we exist within a legacy of violence and aggression towards humanity.

“Frailty and fear are part of our existence too,” says Victor, “Frailty, the vulnerability that has affected me physically in my own body and the frailty in our own society, when we realise how vulnerable we are and how easily one serious viral infection can quite literally freeze the world. The fear comes with it – globally people are afraid. Fear is about how we negotiate the world around us,” she continues.

Triggered by the strong emotional response to contentious conditions– sometimes, disgust, disbelief or anger, Victor responds visually: “I do not pre think whether it is criticism, but that, hopefully, is a self-reflective response to a situation.”

She camouflages problematic subject matters with a technical visual aesthetic that draws the viewer in. “This is a more effective strategy for me rather than a blunt, direct or aggressive approach. Also, the technical component allows for multiple readings that should transcend the didactic statement of criticism,” she says.

“I am interested in the material development, the ambiguity that the technical interaction brings to the work. It is not about illustrating the cause, but the process and the medium that bring in other unexpected readings.”

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic no public opening events will be hosted at the UJ Art Gallery during 2021. A virtual walkabout with Diane Victor will be streamed online on 14 April 2021 from 18h00.


The artworks can also be viewed by appointment for the duration of the exhibition every Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 09:00 and 15:00.


Diane Victor will host additional physical walkabouts on 17 April, 21 April, 24 April and 8 May 2021 from 10:30 for groups of up to ten people. Booking for this is essential.


The physical exhibition at UJ Art Gallery ends on 19 May 2021 while the 3D exhibition can be viewed on Moving Cube until May 2022.

For more information contact Annali Dempsey 011 559 2099 or send an email to aedempsey@uj.ac.za.


UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA), produces and presents world-class student and professional arts programmes aligned to the UJ vision of an international university of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future. A robust range of arts platforms are offered on all four UJ campuses for students, staff, alumni and the general public to experience and engage with emerging and established Pan-African and international artists drawn from the full spectrum of the arts.

In addition to UJ Arts & Culture, FADA (www.uj.ac.za/fada) offers programmes in eight creative disciplines, in Art, Design and Architecture, as well as playing home to the NRF SARChI Chair in South African Art & Visual Culture, and the Visual Identities in Art & Design Research Centre. The Faculty has a strong focus on sustainability and relevance, and engages actively with the dynamism, creativity and diversity of Johannesburg in imagining new approaches to art and design education.


Diane Victor, born in Witbank, Mpumalanga in 1964, is a South African artist, internationally renowned for her extraordinary draftsmanship, intricate printmaking skills and technical development of media. Her critical assessment of contemporary society, often underpinned by satire and humor, offers cutting edge critique on irrational socio-political behavior and its ramifications of, amongst others, inequality, violence and corruption for the vulnerable and disadvantaged.

Majoring in Printmaking, Victor received a BA Fine Arts degree with distinction from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1986, followed by prestigious accolades indicative of a promising career. In 1987 she was the winner of the Sasol New Signatures Award and in 1988 the youngest recipient of Volkskas Atelier Award (now the ABSA L’Atelier Award). In 1989 she received the Financial Mail/J & B Rare Achievers Award for Art and in 2005 a Gold Medal Award for Visual Art from the SA Academy of Arts and Sciences. She lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.