(1972 – )

Jo O’Connor

Born in 1972 in Johannesburg, O’Connor is currently working in Cape Town.  She graduated in 1994, cum laude, with honours in Fine Art from the University of Nataal. O’Connor engages in various mediums, from drawing, sculpting, video, installations and a recent return, in the last several years, to painting.

 In The Origin of The Work of Art, Martin Heidegger asks, “What is the source of a work of art?”. In response to the question, O’Connor argues that the artwork and the artist exist in a dynamic where each appears to be a provider of the other. O’Connor’s work explores this dynamic. Although elements from her past works, as well as aspects of the environment, form part of her collective experience, in the studio the ‘real’ world regresses, and the limitless possibilities of shape, colour, tone and line present an opportunity to explore the intimacy of the personal.

 O’Conor’s compositions usually start with a shape she finds pleasing and a colour she is drawn to. From there, the process unfolds and evolves spontaneously. The formal aspects of visual language – the alchemy of colour and tone and the nature of shape and pattern – are various elements that she attempts to bring together to form a precarious equilibrium: the sum of the parts equals the whole, in other words. 

 O’Connor writes about her work,

My process of painting is one of discovery as if I was to build and solve a puzzle at the same time. At times, the correlation of repetition and  ‘considered randomness’ brings to mind the abstract aspect of rhythm, composition and pattern. Other times the composition will move elsewhere – choices in the work arise from the work itself and I strive to be attuned and responsive to them.


BA Honours Fine Art (Cum Laude), University of Natal

Post Graduate Diploma of Museum Management, University of Cape Town


Solo Exhibitions

Sanctuary, Barnard Gallery, Cape Town
An Urban Chronicle, 131A Gallery, Cape Town

An Interlude, Circa / Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town

Visage, Association of Visual Arts (AVA), Cape Town

There, Galerie Expo 3036, Berlin

Thread, Prince Albert Gallery, Prince Albert, Great Karoo
Muscle, Mark Coetzee Fine Art Cabinet, Cape Town

Before Swallowing, Mark Coetzee Fine Art Cabinet, Cape Town

Neuroglia, Rembrandt Van Rijn Gallery, Market Theatre, Johannesburg


Group Exhibitions


Optimal Vibration, Group Exhibition, Graham Contemporary, Johannesburg

Sunny Side Up, Group Exhibition, Graham Contemporary, Johannesburg

New Day Spring Group Exhibition, Graham Contemporary, Johannesburg

Painter Painter, Barnard Gallery, Cape Town

Abstract_ed, Barnard Gallery, Cape Town

Cape Town Art Fair, Barnard Gallery Booth

Elixir, 131A Gallery, Cape Town

Assimilate, 131A Gallery, Cape Town

IMAGO, Everard Read Gallery, Franschoek

On Being, Everard Read Gallery, Franschoek

Untitled, 131 A Gallery, Cape Town

Still, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town

Summer, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town

Nano 3.1, Barnard Gallery, Cape Town

Winter, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town

Summer, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town

Winter Collection, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town

Spectrum, Circa / Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg

Hardline, Circa / Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town 

Summer in the City, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town

Winter Collection, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town

Homage, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town

Winter Collection, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town

Empire, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town

Own Goal, AVA, Cape Town

Stilte, Klein Karoo Kunsfees, Oudshoorn

Home/Room 516, Spier Hotel, Stellenbosch

Out of Context, Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town
Home/Room 516, Spier Hotel, Stellenbosch

Routes Around the World Portfolio, curated by Harm Lux, Wirth & Hauser, Switzerand

Pulse, Videoart Centre Tokyo, Tokyo

Somerfest, Karl Hofer Gesellschaft, Berlin

Very Real Time, curated by Gregg Smith, Cape Town

Spare Change, Bell-Roberts Gallery, Karoo Nasionale Kunsfees, Oudshoorn

Gardenism, Spier Outdoor Sculpture Bienniel, Spier Hotel, Stellenbosch

Filling, YDETAG, South African National Gallery, Cape Town

Fridge Project, One City Many Culture Festival, Cape Town

Johannesburg as at March 2000, Urban Futures, Rembrandt van Rijn Gallery, JHB

Fridge Project, Cape Town Art Night, Cape Town

Fridge Project, SOFTSERVE, South African National Gallery, Cape Town

Like it (But Can’t Afford it), collaboration with James Webb, Cape Town Art Night

Snack Corridor,
Shopping Trolley Project, River Club, Cape Town

Expecting, The District Six Sculpture Festival, Cape Town


Karl Hofer Gesellschaft, Berlin

Very Real Time, Cape Town

Thupelo, Cape Town

  • Coulson, M. ‘Welcome to a new find’, Financial Mail. May 24 1996, p 106.
  • Edmunds, P. “A Total Scoop’ , Artthrob. http//www.artthrob.co.za/99nov/reviews.html
  • Edmunds, P. ‘KKNK’, Artthrob. http//www.artthrob.co.za/02apr/reviews.html
  • Edmunds, P. ‘Jo O’Connor at the Mark Coetzee Fine art Cabinet’, Artthrob, http//www.artthrob.co.za/00may/reviews.html
  • *Edmunds, P. (ed). Spier Outdoor Sculpture Biennial. Bell-Roberts: Cape Town, 2002.
  • Pollak, L. ‘Eloquent Silence of the Tongues’, Cape Times. 25 April 2000, p7.
  • Murinik, T. ‘Spier Outdoor Sculpture Festival’, Artthrob. http//www.artthrob.co.za/02jan/reviews.html
  • Murinik, T. ‘Feeding Frenzy’, Mail & Guardian. July 3 – 9 1998, p11. http//www.mg.co.za/art/fineart/9807/980702-oconnor.html
  • Murinik, T. ‘More about Art Night’, Artthrob. http//www.artthrob.co.za/99apr/news.html#artnight
  • Roper, C. ‘Object d’art’, SL. September 1998; Vol 5 no 8, p22.
  • Shantall, L. ‘Experiments in time and place’,  Art South Africa. Vol 2 Issue 2 Summer 2003   pp16-17.
  • *Smith, G & De Bondt, S (eds). Very Real Time . Die Keure,: Belgium, 2004.
  • Website: www.veryrealtime.co.za
  • *Soudein, C & Meyer, R. (ed.s) The District Six Public Sculpture Project. Cape Town, 1997.
  • Stephen, J. ‘Fresh Face: Jo O’Connor (27) Artist’, SL. June 2000, p32.
  • *Van den Berg, C; Smith, K; Burger, L (ed.s) KKNK 2002. Bell-Roberts: Cape Town, 2002.
  • Wallace, L. http://www.houseandgarden.co.za/home/hardline/


  • Spier
  • Hollard
  • Nando’s
  • Private collections in:
    • South Africa
    • United States
    • England
    • Germany
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