Born 1974, Lafayette, Indiana; lives in Arizona

In her multimedia sculptures and installations, Deva Graf considers notions of hybridity, wholeness, and the nature of sculptural space. She combines figurative and abstract elements in a manner that alludes to and confounds the history of modernist sculpture, particularly its conventions of display, and creates charged psychological encounters. Graf began investigating the viewer’s experience of figurative sculpture in a series of grotesque humanoid and zoomorphic forms placed on pedestals to focus our attention on these objects of “curiosity.” In Untitled Figure (2003), a sculpture in the shape of a rabbit’s head is partially sheathed in a Stussy-brand T-shirt. The relationship between the rough purple head and its smooth purple base refers to the history of early modernist sculpture and its object-pedestal dialogue. This formalism is wedded to a specific evocation of fashion and culture of the recent past in the form of the T-shirt. This combination of disparate sources leads to a condition that Graf describes as “extra-wholeness.”

Following a desire to shift the effect of her work from singular excess to composed unity, Graf moved her figures off the pedestals and into installation formats that both responded to and activated the architectural space of the gallery. In The Space Between Us (2004), she used a variety of strategies to charge the space. Several sculptures, including a tree stump and a man’s head with a candle sprouting from its top, sat directly on the floor. In one corner of the room, at floor level, was a small wall drawing entitled black hole, which consisted of concentric black lines moving gradually closer together until they formed the illusion of a dark hole. The adjacent corner was highlighted by When You Look Into the Ovoid the Ovoid Looks Back at You, a large triangular piece of mirror on a sculptural base wedged between the two walls and framed above by an expansive, arching line of black ink. In this case, viewers were directed to the gallery’s architecture and then back to themselves, caught in the act of looking.

Graf further explores this experience of reflection and space in a recent series of works on paper, Mirror Photocopy I (2005) and Mirror Photocopy II (2005). These eerie black images are created by photocopying a 12-by-12-inch mirror in an endless “Möbius strip” of reflection. Rather than viewing this act as a nihilistic gesture, she considers these works to be neutral surfaces of pure reflection, an apt metaphor for all human interaction whereby “human beings are engaged in similar endless simultaneous acts of perceiving the world and also being perceived by the world.” GCM

MA more about this artist in the Biennial Catalogue

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Untitled Figure, 2003. T-shirt and mixed media. 60 x 8 x 8 in. (152.4 x 20.3 x 20.3 cm). Collection of Lorelei Stewart and Andreas Fischer