Artist Statement

My work is about awareness of the body in space. Movement is a central theme to my process and is ever-present. The tactile act of painting allows this awareness to become actualised. I find form through painting derived from my daily rituals and movements. Painting is both a distancing mechanism as well as a proprioceptive experience. It assists me in reorganising the structure of things and helps me to position myself in the world. The dancer in me revels in such an adaptive process like painting and my work seeks to translate moments of physical interaction; be they joyous, difficult, or mundane. I like how these moments can be suspended, extended, or revisited. They therefore subscribe to the notion that personal, physical intimacy is valuable.


Tamara Osso is a Johannesburg-based artist whose work explores a trail of connections between painting, dance and other forms of movement. Drawing deeply on her personal experience as a professional dancer and as a mother to a child with a disability, she is interested in how different kinds of movement are available to different bodies in different contexts. For Osso, physical movement is a form of embodied research, and in her painting practice she looks for ways to draw connections between the dynamism of the body and visual languages. 

The proprioceptive act of painting, the way that making a painting is always a process of situating one’s body in relation to material, becomes a metaphor for how space is inhabited and experienced more broadly. As a woman negotiating different public and private spaces in Johannesburg, she is constantly aware of how safety and freedom are coded in the aesthetics of the city and the suburbs. In recent work, Osso considers how Johannesburg’s domestic gardens function as spaces of refuge and as thresholds between private and public worlds. Always bridging these relationships is an exploration of her own psychological state. Both the subject matter of her paintings, and her engagement with dance, bring inner worlds to the surface. 

Osso holds an MA in Fine Arts (cum laude) and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (cum laude) both from Wits University. In 2022, her first solo exhibition “Paradise of Normality” was presented at the Firestation in Johannesburg in collaboration with Lizamore & Associates.  Her award-winning work as a dancer and performer has been seen in theatres and festivals locally and internationally, including Dance Umbrella, Johannesburg, the Baxter Theatre, Cape Town, The Grand Theatre, Shanghai, Tianqiao Performance Center, Beijing and Asia World Arena, Hong Kong.

20 years of making and moving



2018 PGCE teaching certificate (with distinction) at WITS University. 

2014 The University of the Witwatersrand Masters (with Distinction) in Fine Art 

2010 The University of Witwatersrand. Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts.



SAMA Award Winner 2010 

The Parlotones; Push me to the floor. Winner MK Award for Best Music Video 2010 Winner SAMA Award for Best Music Video 2010 Directed by Jolyon Ellis and Francis Gavin Produced & Edited by Francis Gavin Performance Coach Janine King Featuring Tandi Meikle and Kahn Morbee DoP Garreth Fradgley Production Manager Janine King. Production Design by Tamara Osso, Ruth Rom & Robin de Jager.

Sasol New Signatures Finalist 2009

Group Exhibitions

2022 The Paradise of Normality; Tamara Osso solo exhibition. Curated by Tereza Lizamore. The Firestation space, Johannesburg.

2022  Autumn 2022 a Group Exhibition. Curated by Kerry Redelinghuys. Daor Contemporary, Cape Town.

2021 Sempiturnal Summer. Curated by Teresa Lizamore. Lizamore & Associates Gallery, Johannesburg

2021 RMB Talent Unlocked Exhibition. Curated by Londi Modiko. Circa Gallery, Johannesburg

Strauss & Co Auction in partnership with RMB Private Bank. https://www.straussart.co.za/auctions/lot/23-aug-2021/71 

2020 THE LOCKDOWN COLLECTION AUCTION IN PARTNERSHIP WITH LATITUDES ONLINE.  All proceeds from Open Call Collection will go to the participating artists, the Vulnerable Artist Fund and Latitudes Outreach. https://latitudes.online/auctions.html

2019 Redfest Arts Festival. Curated by Marisa Mare. Redhill School, Johannesburg. produced by Tamara Osso.

2018 Opposing Moments. Curated by Kalashnikovv Gallery. Graham’s Fine Art Gallery, Johannesburg.

2017 Tutu in collaboration with Moving into Dance Mophatong. Produced, directed and written by Tamara Osso. Dance Umbrella, WITS Theatre, Johannesburg.

POP-UP Art Exhibition. Curated by Beth Van Heerden and the FirstRand Art Committee in collaboration with Assemblage and Artist Proof Studio. Art@First, Sandton.

The Emerging Painters exhibition titled Touch. Curated by Jessica Webster in collaboration with Amber-Jade Geldenhuys and MC Roodt at The Turbine Art Fair, Johannesburg

2016 The Craftsmen’s Ship Building Launch in collaboration with Counterspace, Moving into Dance Mophatong and Stephen Hobbs. Choreographed by Tamara Osso. Maboneng Precinct, Johannesburg.

Who’s in that space? Curated by Tamara Osso. That Space, Newtown, Johannesburg.

“I See You…Me”. Curated by Sally Shorkend. SoMa Art + Space, Maboneng, Johannesburg, South Africa 

2015 The Last Supper. An interactive sculpture with performance by Gina Kraft. Goethe On Main. Maboneng, Johannesburg.

2014 Artist vs. Artist; a Wits Masters exhibition by Tamara Osso. The Substation WSOA. Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

Expressions Of Freedom. Curated by Kalashnikovv Gallery in association with Basha Uhuru Freedom Festival Space. Women’s Jail Exhibition Space at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg.

2013 Et al. Curated by Brendan Copestake and Neil Nieuwoudt. NIROXprojects, Arts on Main, Maboneng Precinct, Johannesburg

2012 Process this/  . UCT/WITS Masters Exchange Exhibition. Michaelis Galleries at the University of Cape Town.

2011 The Joburg Fringe: Art of Assemblage. Curated by Mandy Johnston. Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

I Am Not You. Curated by Murray Turpin was a multimedia exhibition. The Mills, Carr Street in Newtown 

David Krut, produced a series of monotypes at the David Krut Workshop at Arts on Main, Maboneng Precinct, Johannesburg.

The Painter’s Show. Curated by Satellite Spaces/ The Untitled Gallery. Main Street Life, Johannesburg. 


2010 Ke Ai presents Popo.Me Exhibition in collaboration with Deconstruction Events. 70 Juta the new Design Quarter  Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

Jan Blohm: Tangerine. Music video produced, directed & edited by Francis Gavin, DoP Garreth Fradgley Featuring Taryn Sudding, Matias Dias, Nurit Graaf & Francis Gavin. Production Design: Tamara Osso & Quinton Williams Wardrobe & Make-Up: Tandi Meikle

The Black Hotels: No Sign of Science. Music video produced, directed, shot and edited by Francis Gavin Featuring Tamara Osso and Clive Gilson. Art Direction by Tamara Osso

2009 Sasol New Signatures. Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria.

Virtually Real. Undergraduate Exhibition. WSOA Sub-station, Johannesburg.

2007-8 Beyond the Line. Curated by Katrin von Maltzahn in collaboration with WITS University. The Goethe Institute, Johannesburg. 

The Martienssen Prize finalist exhibition. 2008. WITS University, Johannesburg.

2004 – 2006 Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. Toured with the company for over a year at Artscape Theatre, Cape Town. The State Theatre, Pretoria.The Grand Theatre, Shanghai, Tianqiao Performance Center, Beijing and Asia World Arena Hong Kong.


Awards & Other Achievements

2002 – 2005 Professional Ballet and contemporary dancer. Worked under the direction of Adele Blank for FreeFlight Contemporary Dance Company performing numerous pieces in various theatres. Notable performances include Windows with Ballet Theatre African under the direction of Martin Shonberg. Touring extensively around South Africa performing at KKNK and Grahamstown Festivals and performing Blood Wedding at the Civic Theatre Johannesburg with La Rosa Spanish Dance Company. 

2001 – 2002 Danced in numerous performances at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town and toured The Garden Route as part of a Rotary fundraising initiative performing in a variety of Classical Excerpts, as well as African Dance pieces choreographed by Maxwell Xholani. 

1998-2000 Principal dancer with the Johannesburg Youth Ballet – danced the lead role in excerpts from the Ballet’s Le Corsaire, Sleeping Beauty and Pas de Fiancé. Contemporary works directed by Robyn Orlan and Tanya Futter.

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