DeVos is a South African-born contemporary multidisciplinary visual artist and curator currently residing and working in Johannesburg.
De Vos received her Baccalaureus Technologiae degree from the Tshwane University of Technology where she majored in glass blowing, sculpture, and figure drawing. Throughout her career, She’s been the recipient of the Teresa Lizamore Curatorial Mentorship Programme in 2017. She also participated in the Thami Mnyele National Fine Arts Award where she was selected as one of the top fifteen finalists. De Vos has had the pleasure of participating in numerous exhibitions such as the Arts Alive exhibition (2015), Thou Art Woman Group exhibition at MM Art House (2018), and All Womxn Matter by Julie Miller and Art@Africa in 2020.
De Vos has also participated in prestigious art fairs in the county such as the Fringe Art Fair at Victoria Yards (2019), Turbine Art Fair (2019), and FNB Art Joburg (2020). Exploring both two- and three-dimensional artistic approaches and techniques, De Vos’s body of work centers around the emotional, psychological and social wellbeing of individuals advocating for new positive ways of relating to one another.
De Vos further co-ordinates and facilitates workshops and programs within the arts sector and has participated in practical and research seminars. As a curator
De Vos has curated over fifteen exhibitions at nationally applauded institutions such as the Pretoria Art Museum (2017), August House (2020), and the Goethe Institute (2021) amongst others. Beyond her artmaking and curatorial career, Olwethu De Vos also serves as the Co-founder of The For Sale Project and the Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize which aim at developing emerging artists ‘careers.
Exploring both two- and three-dimensional artistic approaches and techniques, De Vos’s body of work centers around the emotional, psychological and social wellbeing of individuals advocating for new positive ways of relating to one another.
Investigating the physical human form and basic human experience, the artworks of Olwethu De Vos serve as a call for closeness.
De Vos observes how preconceived notions of identity, cultural and traditional values, set morals, and racial, gendered, and societal ideologies tend to govern how we relate to one another and tend to taint our lived experiences. These preconceived ideologies and tend to create barriers of difference and condition the segregation of various kinds of people based on disparity.
Through her well-executed mixed media drawings, De Vos aims to depict the human body in its most fundamental form central to the human experience. De Vos calls for an emergence of a new lens of viewing and relating to one another, advocating for a move away from unjust theories and ideologies that have captivated the human experience for so long and encouraging a softer approach to each other.
The elaborately rendered bodies of naked men and women appear in the foreground with a stark black background, reminiscent of the baroque’s application of chiaroscuro. She achieves further contrast through her use of mediums as she juxtapositions soft and hard mediums in one artwork, where the softness of charcoal is contrasted with the hardness of nails and staples, creating a dynamic and multidimensional visual experience.
Captured in interesting poses, her manipulation of the selected medium creates beautiful notions of movement and autonomy. Her warm palette of oranges, yellows, and browns invites and situates the viewer in a gaze, one not sexualised or idolised but one of appreciation and adoring of the depicted human body in its purest form.
The imagery of the scarf included not only serves to marry the human experience as individuality is taken away from the persons rendered, but also tells of the red theory of fate emanating from Chinese mythology where it is believed that everyone has specific people that they are inherently connected and tied to with an invisible red thread, that speaks to the notion of material (cloth and thread) as a connecting element of humanity.
Her work serves as an expansive exploration and display of the ties that bind us in human form because as different as we may seem, we are ultimately all connected through our varied physical forms and our universal human experience.