Trail - a solo show by Gabrielle Raaff

Thu, February 23, 2017 to Sat, March 25, 2017

SMITH is proud to present 'Trail', a collection of ethereal landscapes by visual artist Gabrielle Raaff. The show is Raaff’s first solo exhibition at SMITH and will run for one month from February 23rd 2017. Raaff was born in 1970 in Johannesburg, South Africa. She graduated from the University of Stellenbosch (BA.FA) (HDE) in 1992.

Raaff’s collection is a distillation of visual responses gathered on walks in the Greenbelt in Cape Town’s affluent southern suburbs, part of a larger area from which many non-white residents were evicted in the wake of the apartheid regime’s Group Areas Act. Flanked by vast, often garish mansions, the forest walk has become the preserve of mainly white suburban dog walkers. Raaff’s work studies the effect of the area’s past on its own geography to pose wider questions about how history is retained in our natural environment.

Raaff’s visual language is a contemporary dialect of 18th Century English and Dutch landscape painters but she avoids easy representations of the real or pastoral scenes she encounters. Instead, Raaff rearranges the parts of the whole to create emotive spaces at once beautiful, discordant and ominous. Working in watercolour, ink and water-based oil allows Raaff to build up the painted surface through many layers of diluted pigment. Using this technique, the surface becomes something of a palimpsest, with the past luminously apparent in the finished work.