David Krut Projects is pleased to present an exhibition of prints by extraordinary printmaker, Diane Victor – the first solo show of her work in Cape Town since 2008. The exhibition comprises works created between 2008 and 2013, as well as a very early work from 1986. The keen selection brings viewers up to date with the artist’s production, as well as reiterating her mastery of the medium that has long served her unrelenting critical interrogation of everyday atrocities and the abuse of power.

Victor’s enduring affair with printmaking began in the mid-1980s at the University of the Witwatersrand where she read for her fine art degree. Although her first love was drawing, the university required students to pick one of three specialisations, the options being painting, sculpture and printmaking, with the latter providing the most potential for her rigorous and detailed line work. [Elizabeth Rankin in ‘Personalising the Process: Diane Victor as Printmaker’, pp.4-49 of TAXI-013: Diane Victor. David Krut Publishing, 2008.] The mode of production – gouging drypoint needles, biting acid – mimics her acerbic treatment of difficult subject matter. The use of shaped plates allows Victor to suspend images in the centre of a composition, calling them out and leaving them to float unmoored in the whiteness of the page. Sophisticated blind embossing allows for subtle but persistent detail, like whispered mitigating information. Watercolour monotype provides an equivalent in printmaking of smoke and ash in drawing, able to communicate fragility, transience and loss. When her subject is heavy and visceral, her prints are dense, with gothic overtures and impressive tonal range. For loftier, hypothetical explorations Victor works in delicate drypoint lines, with all excess ink wiped from the plate before printing.

For Victor, making art ‘provides a way of working through troublesome images that lodge themselves persistently in her memory.’ The process is cathartic. The visual equivalent of psychoanalytic ‘talking cure’, Victor draws her subject matter from far and wide, pulling information from the media and personal encounters, transforming them into rich and heavily populated compositions, full-blown narratives employing her grotesque and characteristic iconography. In this exhibition, one sees Victor still pre-occupied with ‘the big “catholic” sins – greed, lust, envy and excess.’[Bronwyn Law-Viljoen in ‘The Shadow Arrives First’, p.94 of Burning the Candle at Both Ends. David Krut Publishing, 2012.] Victor responds to instances of these in politics, tackling corruption, fraud and extortion on a grand scale within dominant social institutions. Simultaneously, she exposes the perpetuation of these crimes in everyday lives. As much as her technique is relevant to her subject matter, the pressure of the press and the bleeding of the ink into paper are also metaphorical of the persistence of injustice and Victor’s need to process and express her responses through visual language.

Whether her politics and platforms are public or personal, her imagery is the stuff of nightmares. However, the seriousness of her subject matter is kept in check by her sense of humour, revealed through parody, sharp satire and ironic self-effacement – a belief that ‘if you take yourself too seriously as an artist you are in very big trouble.’[Victor quoted by Luke Crossley, Juliet White & Krystina Comer in ‘Collaborations’, p.87 of Burning the Candle at Both Ends. David Krut Publishing, 2012.]

Text by Jacqueline Nurse.