About me

Odette Graskie works with line, paper and textiles, and is currently experimenting with papermaking and pushing paper to its sculptural limits. She graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Pretoria in 2015 but has been exhibiting since 2013. Graskie just returned from a residency at the Slade School of Art in London. She has previously had solo shows at AVA Gallery in Cape Town, Millennium Gallery in Pretoria, as well as at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Poland, where she had a residency in 2017. Her recent group shows include Work in Progress at the Camden Arts Centre in London and #ARTladies at Berman Contemporary. She has been a part of the Top 100 exhibition of the Absa L’Atelier in 2018 and 2015. She is also one half of the curatorial group Bland & Boring.

About my Work

“I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.” – Raymond Carver

Artist Statement


I create spaces for human connection. By using poetry, literature and music as a golden thread of influence, I rework stories and emotions into spaces that can highlight a certain human process or journey. I do this through installation, drawing, textile artworks and ceramics. These specific methods facilitate a space for movement and experience. The work often incorporates multisensory aspects, usually tactility, to bring viewers closer to the art. My main goal is making site-specific artworks that create an art experience for viewers. This can be seen in the Sorrows and Ambedo installations, amongst others. One of the key experiences that I hope to induce within my installation is an idiosyncratic inner journey that might at times be an emotional one. Here viewers can become immersed, sometimes play, and they can be led by their emotions. This sort of interaction demands attention, introspection, and any sort of emotional reaction – even if it is disgust.


Currently I am working on a body of drawing and paper installations. At the start of my drawing process, there is a focus on the mundane habits and interactions between people. This focus is crucial as it brings our attention to the unseen moments that happen around us every day while also pointing out the importance of these silent moments that make a part of a communal lived experience. The only mediators of the people that might become subjects is their location – which in itself can already be a very political aspect of their existence. I chose subjects solely on the fact that I share a space with them for a however brief period of time – they are a part of my daily journey. I believe that fixing on the everyday of people will bring art and people closer together. I do this through mediating the everyday through drawing, or by creating anthropomorphic sculptures with ceramics and textiles. The anthropomorphic shapes and the figures on paper become like blank spaces in which the brain will automatically project recognition if it is at all possible. If not, the assumptions made of the strangers on the pages will become the story a viewer creates for themselves – a projected image of associations and assumptions. The sculptures, on the other hand, are fictitious beings derived from shadows of trees or objects noticed in nature that at the time seemed to be more than alive. Here people or plants are adapted by the eye, the hand and the story that I tell myself about them.


My drawing process in this way also has layers of ambiguity, owing to the nature of the process. Firstly it can be empowering and emboldening to the artist and the unknowing participant. The act of looking and paying attention to the details of someone’s cheekbones or their beard or the amount of earrings they wear can become a moment of making the unnoticed visible. When I draw a participant it creates a moment of intimacy – I am looking in moments when others are too busy with themselves or their friends to focus on the other strangers in their surroundings. Sometimes in moments when we would rather look at screens. However, my drawings also become something more violent in that it is with an unknowing participant, who is reduced down to their base appearance and whose two-minute face now belongs to a document of faces that will be used for other purposes. There is a new sort of ambiguity in that the faces will be regurgitated back into new settings. This process is similar to the way the mind translates strangers we have seen in the day into characters in our dreams, as the brain is working on continuous rule-governed memory consolidation processes. This process is mimicked in my work, where I put characters in interactions that I do not know will ever be true and possibly creating fiction.


The next phase is inherently violent as the combined stories of the characters get cut up once more, this time warping faces and splitting up a person into multiple sections of paper. And at last, they get put back together with thread. Through the needle and thread I can mend what I tore apart in my analysis and with my blade and I can create a new setting for my characters. The thread mimics the line of the pen – in this way it becomes like the closest way I have to imagine the rest of the participants’ lives. Reimagining the story, one might say that this is the most accurate depiction of the lives of the drawings because they have become so intertwined – as humans do – in the lives of others. There are imagined stories in this layer, with many interpretations. They are an exploration of our human tendency to make assumptions and new connections – what is the story of a flared nostril, a look of apathy in the eyes, the way a smile reaches the eyes? I encourage viewers to make new elucidations and experience the combinations of paper-people as a whole crowd through which they can move, feel and connect.

Artist’s Dictionary

Sonder: Sonder describes the feeling that one gets when realising that a random passerby has a life as vivid and colourful as your own. Sonder makes us realise that we are not always the main character. Everyone is their own main character, and you are merely a passerby to them.


Silience: The word Silience refers to the unseen brilliance that happens around us every day.


Sillage: Sillage can be described as the scent that lingers in the air, the trail left in water, the impression made in space after someone has been and gone. 


Vicarity: Experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person.


Occhiolism: The awareness of the smallness of our perspective.


Opia: The ambiguous intensity of eye contact.


Ambedo: Ambedo means to become totally absorbed in vivid sensory details of a place – the smell and the sights, and the touch. When we become still, we can let the world offer us something instead of always just giving it our words and actions. It can become something, show us its secrets, if we give the world a chance to speak.