About me

Odette Graskie is an artist living in Johannesburg, South Africa (b.1993). She works with paper and drawing. Her artworks revolve around human interaction and connection. To her, drawing is a way of really seeing those around her, and she creates intimate moments while drawing.

Graskie graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Pretoria in 2015 and is currently doing her MA in Visual Arts at the University of Johannesburg. She has been on artist residencies in Guernsey, London and Poland. She has had solo exhibitions in Pretoria and Cape Town. Her recent exhibitions include group shows at the Camden Arts Centre in London, the Summer Show and Labyrinthine at Berman Contemporary, and a Youth Day exhibition hosted by Nedbank’s art collection. She has hosted several Drawing Sessions at the Berman Contemporary since January 2021 where she invited members of the public to sit for her drawings.

About my Work

“My library is an archive of longings.” – Susan Sontag

Artist's Statement

My artistic practice revolves around mystery, connection and moments of intimacy. It includes media such as drawing and an exploration of paper. By making my own, or discovering other handmade paper sheets, there is an embrace of the materiality of the page. My experiments with paper are attempts at maintaining the essence of the pages – the different textures along with the weightless fragility – while pushing the ways in which paper can be developed, entwined with my own hand and expression. Paper is a mode of connection, a way to tell stories through lifespans. In my artworks every face belongs to another, they are always connecting. I believe that human connection is healing and important when overcoming trauma.

My process comprises obsessive, labour-intensive drawing, cutting and putting pieces back together again. Drawing is a way of seeing, a way to connect with the world around me on a deeper level. Since a recent visit to Picasso and Paper at the Royal Academy in London, I have felt a renewed sense of the importance of drawing. By really looking at someone, even if I never see them again, I embrace the possibility of other existences outside of my own and find a way to connect with people.

In this, moments of humanity become possible even with characters on a page, with the touch of materiality and smell of moss, the presence of anthropomorphic forms. Healing is not only in conversation, it can be in one moment of pause and attention. In my work, stories are implied. Many hidden messages get lost along the way. In artist books, those might be literal words hidden in cracks and crevices, secret pockets and folded pages, forever lost to anyone who does not pay attention. Some artworks could contain poetry, others might be inspired by a book about plant biology, astronomy, secret libraries or space-time adventures. Faces are of those that have crossed my path, moments of intimate snippets taken, from people who might not have noticed me at all.

Photos on this page credited to Marnus Strydom.