Olivié Keck is a Cape Town-based artist who works across painting, drawing, and ceramics, always with a strong emphasis on colour. Well-known for her dreamy, faceless characters situated in fantastical or opulent settings, Keck has gone on to collaborate with numerous artists and publications, and has exhibited work in a number of solo and group shows over the years. Back in 2019, we featured Keck’s striking work on the cover of Creative Feel. It was art fair season in Johannesburg and Keck had just launched her first Virtual Reality work, Ophelia Forever. In this brief catch-up Q&A, we find out what the artist has been up to since then, and what’s keeping her inspired.
We featured your work on the cover of Creative Feel back in July 2019. What’s happened since then?
I had a solo show of paintings entitled In Bloom with 131A Gallery in 2020 and have been on numerous group shows. I’ve been involved in a number of fun collaborations with local creatives, such as musician Sho’Madjozi, embroiderer Danielle Clough AKA Fiancé Knowles and Risograph Publishers Dreampress SA. I was also really fortunate to have been featured on the front cover of some high profile publications such as SA Art Times, De Standaard (Belgium national newspaper) and CNN Creative in 2020. Despite the limitations of the pandemic, I’ve enabled a lot of growth to happen for me professionally in the last two years.
You had also just finished your VR work Ophelia Forever back then, which we exhibited at our booth at the 2019 RMB Turbine Art Fair. What was it like experimenting with virtual reality? Is it something you’ve wanted to return to?
Yes, I am hoping to have the opportunity to work on a new VR piece for a group exhibition in Canada in 2022. I’d love to re-visit the VR space. So much has changed with the development of new software and hardware. It’s a very different creative landscape from when we (myself, Evan Greenwood and Jason Sutherland) made Ophelia Forever back in 2019. I am super excited to do it in 2022.
How was your work impacted by the onset of the pandemic in 2020? How have you adapted?
The conditions surrounding Covid-19 and the global lockdown have certainly held major challenges. Having big crowds at physical exhibitions has become more difficult and that has required a lot of innovation – I had a major solo due to open right in the middle of lockdown, but with the help and efforts of 131A Gallery, we managed to turn it into a successful interactive online show instead.
In some regards, I think that creative personality types have withstood many of the negative side effects of the pandemic, because they have the ability to adapt and channel some of that nervous energy into productivity. I actually did a news feature during lockdown with CNN International about the benefits of creativity during times of heightened anxiety and uncertainty.
What’s keeping you inspired at the moment?
I am working towards a new solo show for the end of the year. I’m excited to showcase some new tricks and some new themes that I have been exploring in my work. I’ve been using the increased alone time to imagine what societies’ future zeitgeists could look like and that has been a strong motivating force.