BIOGRAPHY OF THE ARTIST
Odette Graskie (b.1993) is an artist living in Johannesburg, South Africa. She works with paper, thread, and drawing. Her artworks investigate human interaction and affective connection. Graskie has been a professional artist since 2016, and is currently completing her MA in Visual Arts with the University of Johannesburg. In 2019, she took part in the London Summer Intensive at the Slade School of Art, which featured a group show at Camden Arts Centre. She has also participated in artist residencies in Guernsey and Poland. Her recent group exhibitions include THE LIMINAL SPACE, WORKS ON PAPER and THE ANNUAL WINTER SHOW at Berman Contemporary; An Im/perfect Balance at Ayanda Fine Art in Düsseldorf, Germany; and Making and Interpreting Art, hosted by the South African Research Chair Contemporary. She also exhibited at the 2022 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London. In 2023, Odette opened her Masters Solo exhibition; a line, a thread, a conversation at Berman Contemporary.
A STUDIO VISIT WITH THE ARTIST
My practice is based on the belief that intimacy, play and emotionality are some of the best ways in which to counteract the isolation and complexity of the technological world. Working with drawing, installation and paper, I hope to create spaces for wonder in my audience. Wonder, as defined by Sara Ahmed, becomes a way of redefining what we see and experience. “Wonder expands our field of vision and touch. Wonder is the precondition of the exposure of the subject to the world: we wonder when we are moved by that which we face.” Wonder can stir up emotions and create movement. I use drawing and drawn images as a relational device in the creation of space, and specifically space for connection. Play, conversation and interventions motivate laughter and connection – defying the formality with which viewers often approach arts-related spaces. My creation of handmade paper, paper artworks and artists’ books also invite tactility. The themes of intimacy and emotionality are embedded in the artworks. They are an opportunity for viewers to engage on a purposeful (page-turning, stepping-into) level with artworks based on emotionality.
My most recent work included a series of performative Drawing Sessions, wherein I invited the public to become sitters for my drawings. I asked sitters to make rules and thereby create ripples of affect and their own agency in the work. In the immersive sculptural installation, Threads of Connection, I reworked the emotional and affective content of the Drawing Sessions. The installation altered the gallery space by inviting viewers to laugh, cry, lie on the floor, and daydream. The space shifted into a space of play. I also created portraits of viewers, and they asserted their agency in the outcome of the installation by placing these portraits in the installation.