Gabrielle Raaff is a painter whose subjects are subtle and nuanced, avoiding neat categorization and tending instead towards fluidity and allusion. Throughout her works she engages the relationship of the individual to the crowd in the urban landscape. The delicate conceptual space of the material qualities of ink, watercolour and oil defines her practice that consistently challenges a sense of visual surety.
Raaff’s latest body of work sees an emphasis placed on the emotive quality of the brushstroke loaded with watery paint. In some paintings the form and the landscape are brought together whereas in others the subject is severed from its context, leaving forms stranded or floating in white space.
Raaff’s visual references are photographic, drawn from local neighbourhood newspapers or her family’s pictures. One type of reference is impersonal and the other deeply nostalgic. These two states merge within the final painting where, as is characteristic of her work, the picture plane repeatedly asserts itself against the pull of illusionism. The recognisable image arises and then dissolves in the terrain of the painting. With minimal description and often very little paint, Raaff reveals just enough visual evidence to springboard an idea. Her work’s seduction lies within its suggestiveness.
SELECTED PROJECTS & EXHIBITIONS
2020 – ‘Hazy Shade of Winter’ Salon 91 Gallery. 2019 – ‘Echoes From the South’ (solo) SMITH gallery, ‘Emphatic Whispers’ SMITH gallery. 2018 – Cape Town Art Fair, Smith Gallery. 2017 – ‘Trail’ (solo) Smith Gallery, Cape Town; ‘Lady Garden,’ Cavalli Gallery, Somerset West; ‘Nano. 1.2,’ Barnard Gallery, Cape Town; ‘Field,’ Salon 91 Gallery, Cape Town; ‘Salad,’ Smith Gallery Summer Show, Cape Town. 2016 – ‘Nano 1’ Barnard Gallery, Cape Town; ‘Paper is You III,’ Salon 91 Gallery. 2015 – ‘Night Watch’ (solo) Salon 91 Gallery; ‘However,’ Art Hun Gallery, London; Aperture Gallery, Paris; ‘Winter Show’ and ‘Empire’ at Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town; Turbine Art Fair with Salon 91 Gallery, Johannesburg. 2014 – Rotterdam Art Fair, The Netherlands; Turbine Art Fair with Salon 91, Johannesburg; Scintilla: An Alchemy Show at Commune 1 Gallery, Cape Town; Paper is You II, group show, Salon 91, Cape Town. 2011 - Realm at Salon91, Cape Town; People at Chagan Contemporary, London; Paper Is You, group show, Salon 91, Cape Town. 2009 – In Our Midst (solo) at The Muti Gallery, Cape Town. 2008 – Periphery (solo) at These Four Walls, Cape Town. 2007 – Finalist exhibition, Spier Contemporary Art Awards. 1998 – Unplugged at Rembrandt Van Rijn Gallery, Johannesburg.