Gabrielle Raaff

Gabrielle Raaff (b. 1970) lives and works in the South Peninsula of Cape Town. She graduated with a BFA (HDE) form Stellenbosch University in 1992. Raaff's works begin with a photographic image as a springboard. The medium of photography, and its ability to fix an image is what piques her interest. The artist works with ethereality, using the media of ink, water colour and water based oil as a vehicle for alluding to the form, the function and the emotion of her subject. Raaff is interested in the space and arrangement of local South African neighbourhoods and the everyday goings on of the people that inhabit them. Some works revel in the abstract qualities of the view while recent works play out in a more intimate, painterly relationship with the subject.
She has had five solo shows and exhibited extensively both locally and abroad.

Gabrielle Raaff’s paintings straddle an inseparable and mysterious tension between the abstract and figurative. Her work is informed by news media and the everyday stories happening around her. These graphic images act as intellectual and compositional points of departure; ultimately reimagined on the canvas, they remain as a phantom presence in the completed works. Raaff’s painting process and the resulting images challenge us as viewer to engage in a sense of uncertainty – of ideas in transition – when we come into conversation with her works. Our current social, political and ecological reality has manifested uncertainty as an everpresent state of being. The works on this show are an invitation to take part in the enjoyment of pure experience and shifting perspectives

 “I am drawn into a process of re-interpreting everyday encounters with everyday people that I find in newspapers and online. My process begins with collecting imagery that contains some strange element of beauty, sadness or madness. The making of a new image from an existing one, helps me to process the stories that wash around and through me every single day. Once the trigger is found, the game can begin.

I consider my personal process of painting to be a wrestling between intention and chance and a gradual but deliberate undoing of certainty. The material properties of diluted ink and water-colour, of painting wet into wet and of oil resisting water, determine the means by which a new image is created. I take great pleasure and endure much frustration as I see my intended stroke dissolve into something unexpected because of the unruly nature of the medium.

My studio is the one place where all hell can break loose, where fluctuating states of chaos and mess are necessary for the looseness of intuition to abound.

 Painting can be a scary and isolated pursuit. To keep company with such wonderful fellow painters on a regular basis is invaluable to me. This group of women offer their time, their honesty and experience which translates into a support of my personal efforts. I feel observed, guided and appreciated in ways that allow my life as an artist to persist.

And for these things I am very grateful.”