Tiwani Contemporary presents in collaboration with Stevenson Gallery, South Africa, the London solo exhibition, For Dear Life with Penny Siopis. The exhibition coincides with Frieze London 12-17 October, in which Siopsis is a participating artist in Stevenson’s group presentation at the art fair.
For Dear Life features the latest works from the ongoing painting installation series, Viscous Worlds (2017-present), Atlas (2022-present) and a selection of solo canvases exemplifying Siopis’ long-term engagement with the notion, ‘the politics of vulnerability’: a philosophically materialist and choreographic confluence of gesture, thought and response to cultural and environmental phenomena taking place globally, and specifically, in South Africa.
Siopis’ selected materials for her paintings include: glue, ink, and at later stages oil paint. Beginning at ground level and working from the edges of the canvas, Siopis pours and guides glue on the surface, adding ink and letting the substances flow, coalesce or at its own momentum draw off from the canvas. These abstract flows dry translucent and cohere a visual language that corresponds to readings of current events.
This sensibility transfers itself to Siopsis’ films sourced from disparate sections of 16 or 8mm celluloid film, when edited together, form a visual dissonance between what is seen, what is possible, and what is read of events and their meaning on and potentially off screen and in life. For Dear Life includes the moving image work, She Breathes Water (2019).
Siopis was born in 1953 in Vryburg, South Africa, and lives in Cape Town. She has an MFA and an Honorary Doctorate from Rhodes University, and is currently an Honorary Professor at Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. Her work since the early 1980s has encompassed painting, film/video, photography and installation. All her explorations, whether with body politics, memory, migration, or the relations between the human and non-human, are characterised by her interest in what she calls the ‘poetics of vulnerability’ – embodied in the dynamic play between materiality and reference, chance and contingency, form and formlessness, personal and collective history.
Solo exhibitions include Moving Stories and Travelling Rhythms: Penny Siopis and the many journeys of Skokiaan, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Bulawayo (2019); ‘This is a True Story’: Six Films (1997-2017), a survey of Siopis’ film works, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town (2018); Penny Siopis: Films, Erg Gallery, Brussels (2016); Incarnations, ICA Indian Ocean, Mauritius (2016); Time and Again: A Retrospective Exhibition, South African National Gallery, Cape Town (2014), and Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg (2015); Red: The iconography of colour in the work of Penny Siopis, KZNSA Gallery, Durban (2009), and Three Essays on Shame, Freud Museum, London (2005). Siopis has held eight solo exhibitions at Stevenson, Amsterdam, Cape Town and Johannesburg (2007-2020).
Notable group shows include Plural Possibilities and the Female Body, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington (2021); Witness: Afro Perspectives from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection, El Espacio 23, Miami (2020); Global(e) Resistance, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2020); Blinde Winkel/Blind Corner, Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz eV, Germany (2020); Indian Ocean Current: Six Artistic Narratives, McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College, USA (2020); I Am … Contemporary Women Artists of Africa, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC, USA (2019); Hacer Noche (Crossing Night), Cultural Centre of Oaxaca, Mexico (2018); The World’s Game: Fútbol and Contemporary Art, Pérez Art Museum Miami (2018); The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp, Prospect.4, New Orleans (2017); All Things Being Equal, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town (2017); South Africa: The art of a nation, British Museum, London (2016); Boundary Objects, Kunsthaus Dresden (2015); After Eden/Après Eden – The Walther Collection, La Maison Rouge, Paris (2015); Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2014); Prism: Drawing from 1990-2011, Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo (2012); Appropriated Landscapes, Walther Collection, Neu-Ulm/Burlafingen, Germany (2011); PEEKABOO – Current South Africa, Tennis Palace Art Museum, Helsinki (2010); Black Womanhood: Images, Icons and Ideologies of the African Body, Hood Museum, New Hampshire; Davis Museum, Wellesley, Massachusetts, and San Diego Museum of Art, California (2008); and the biennales of Taipei (2016), Venice (2003, South African Pavilion 2013), Sydney (2010), Guangzhou (2008), Johannesburg (1995 and 1997), Gwangju (1997) and Havana (1994 and 1997).
Installation images of Penny Siopis: For Dear Life, Cromwell Place, 5 - 29 October 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Tiwani Contemporary