.Mark Making Meets Movement

Tamara Osso

Osso is a Johannesburg-based artist living in South Africa. Her work uses the body, and movement, to create huge, dramatic paintings that represent an abstract psychological and emotional process, translated into a visceral, real result. Translating marks into movement, and movement into marks.


NIRVANA | Body at peace

Nirvana: a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. Also, a 90s rock band characterized by Grunge themes such as social alienation, psychological trauma, and a desire for freedom.

In 2019, my son had major brain surgery because he suffered from fatal focal seizures. The seizures ensured we lived in a state of emergency; a kind of disorder of anticipation for what could happen. Our freedom of movement was confined to the proximity of a hospital and our anxiety about interacting with people was always fraught with tension.

Since his surgery, my son has not had one seizure, but the world has experienced a pandemic. The world is in crisis, but our family is no longer. This ironic twist of events has resulted in the Nirvana series of paintings which introspectively examine the state of family peace in a time of global stress. The works are an examination of my/our rituals in the home and as such an extension of our imagination during uncertain times. Times, which emphasizes the simple pleasures of being alive – of feeling lucky to be healthy and together.

We inherited a wonderous garden in our new home. Despite the confined challenge of “lockdown” and the overwhelming fear; our garden became a refuge in healing our trauma. The experience of time is evident in these over-observed, overpainted nature paintings with their invented, theatrical presentation; born from this happiness/boredom/stress of a contradictory context. They straddle a bittersweet representation of suburban life. Backdrops if you will for an upcoming production that does not want for an audience…

Presented by Lizamore & Associates

until jan ’22

3 Hetty Avenue


nirvana Paintings currently on  exhibition @LIZAMORE & ASSOCIATES


Impasse, 2021, ink, acrylic and oil paint (168cm x 136cm)


Fever, 2021, ink, acrylic and oil paint on canvas (120cm x 200cm) 

More artwork from the nirvana series


The Guardians, 2021, ink, acrylic and oil paint on canvas


(Sold) Portal, 2020, ink, acrylic and oil paint (193cm x 130cm) 


Mama Precious, 2021, ink, acrylic and oil paint on canvas


(Sold) Transitioning, 2021, ink, acrylic and oil paint on canvas


(Sold) Running on the Verge, 2021, ink, acrylic and oil paint on canvas


The Weaver, 2021, ink, acrylic and oil paint on canvas 

15 years of making & moving

Body of Work

“Osso’s artworks grapple with the connection between the immediacy of performance and the physicality of painting. In her career, she excelled as a ballet and contemporary dancer and performed with numerous local and international theatre companies before pursuing her studies in the visual arts field. She is a qualified teacher and currently runs workshops from her studio.”


Painting Exhibition

2018 – 2020

The Disorder of Anticipation Series is a psychological exploration of paint in relation to chaos, sadness and trauma. All of which are present when living with a person who suffers from epilepsy.

This piece is titled ‘Seizure’ (framed) – available for purchase

TUTU | Body is seeking

Choreographed Production

Tutu is a short story written and produced for Dance Umbrella 2017 by Tamara Osso. In collaboration with Shanell Winlock, Laura Cameron, Kgotsofalang Moshe & Nathan Attie Botha from Moving into Dance Mophatong. The story is about reorganising social, cultural and personal structures. The challenges people face and the impact of their responses to those challenges.

TOUCHWORKS | Body is here

Ongoing since 2016

Touch-works are paintings on glass developed as physical and emotional check-ins. It is a painting ritual, performed once a week.

“They help me to orientate where my body and mind are and how I am feeling in a particular moment” – Tamara Osso

This piece is titled ‘Nervous’

Various touch-works available 

SUBURBIA | Body is disembodied

Installation with sound, glass, concrete and grass

 A piece developed in response to living in a gated community.

Individual hand-blown glass sculptures available

PREGNANT | Body is consumed

Installation with convex safety mirrors

This installation piece was produced when Osso was pregnant. It explores how growing a fetus inside one’s body forces an examination of one’s external reality. The experience is alien.

Available for purchase

ODE TO YVES KLEIN | Body is engaged

Performance piece with paint and canvas

This performance is an acknowledgement to the practice of Yves Klein. His avant-garde, ritualised approach to painting and conceptual gestures have influenced Osso’s exploration of movement and materiality.

SELF-PORTRAIT V | Body is engaged

Photographed performance piece with paint on glass

Can the dancer and the painter exist in one space?


Limited edition of 3. Self-Portrait I – V available

VIRTUALLY REAL | Body is removed

Painting exhibition

The first painting exhibition which explored the movement experienced when scrolling through social media platforms like Facebook. It is removed yet intimate all at once.

2 paintings available from this body of work


Artist Statement

“My work is about an 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.”

are you interested in my work?

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