SMAC Art Gallery 02

Penny Siopis

Swarm (diptych)

Swarm (diptych) 2011, Ink and glue on canvas, 200 x 305cm
© 2011 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.

Installation view of exhibition entrance, with Penny Siopis's 'Terra Incognita' (1991)

Installation view of exhibition entrance, with Penny Siopis's 'Terra Incognita' (1991) , Oil and collage on board,
Painting courtesy of Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery, University of the Free State


Spirit 2009, ink and glue on canvas, 122x76cm

My Lovely Day

My Lovely Day 1997, Video still,

Shame: Pools

Shame: Pools 2004, Three-plate colour etching with collaged found plastic objects and hand stamping, Paper: 87 x 39.5 cm


Ribbon 2009, oil, ink and glue on canvas, 76cm x 105.5cm

Detail from Pinky Pinky: Pink Eyes

Detail from Pinky Pinky: Pink Eyes 2003, oil and found objects on canvas, 30.5cm x 40.5cm

From the 'Shame' series

From the 'Shame' series 2002, mixed media on paper, 18.5cm x 24.5cm


Miracle 2009, ink and glue on canvas, 300 x 180 cm


Pine 2008, ink and glue on canvas, 160 x 206 cm

Migrants (detail)

Migrants (detail) 2008, ink and glue on canvas, 200 x 300 cm


Migrants 2008, ink and glue on canvas, 200 x 300 cm

Three Trees

Three Trees 2009, ink and glue on canvas, 200 x 250 cm

Still Waters

Still Waters 2009, oil, ink and glue on canvas, 200 x 300 cm

Twins (detail)

Twins (detail) 2009, oil, ink and glue on canvas, 100 x 100cm


Twins 2009, oil, ink and glue on canvas, 100 x 100cm

Current Review(s)


Penny Siopis at STEVENSON in Cape Town

Penny Siopis’ latest exhibition, seen last month at Michael Stevenson, was simply entitled ‘Paintings’. Given that there was nary a sign of paint, as it is conventionally understood, the exhibition presents painting itself as subject of conceptual scrutiny. Created almost exclusively with coloured ink and wood glue and allowing chance and process to create the visual field of action Siopis moves even more strongly into the field of abstraction.

In South Africa abstraction remains a stylistic mode more likely to be encountered on the walls of décor and lifestyle shops than those of serious galleries. Thus hazardous by association, for most practitioners the terrain is difficult. Siopis’ confidence with engaging abstraction comes from a long established exploration of materiality wedded with a continuing belief in the expressive and communicative possibilities of paint (or its substitutes). Like Marlene Dumas she stretches her medium to its limits: thinning it, allowing the glue to glob and bulge, letting the pigment organically find its form, pooling, separating, congealing on the surface of the canvas. The ink lends a heightened colour palette to the paintings and the wood glue a visceral surface akin to encaustic.

16 April 2009 - 30 May 2009

Red: The Iconography of Colour in the Work of Penny Siopis

Penny Siopis at KZNSA

When the Heart Beats, It's Pumping Blood.
Peter Machen responds to the Penny Siopis survey show 'Red'

Penny Siopis's body of work, from her seminal History paintings through to the contemporary Pinky Pinky series and the Shame series, is widely acknowledged as dealing with trauma. Perhaps it is simply a case of approaching the work from a different perspective but I also see – quite simply and literally – horror: the horror of histories piling up on each other like bodies, the horror of bodies literally piling up on themselves, and of course the horrors we contain inside ourselves. Even Siopis' early cake paintings contain sinister undercurrents, not the least of which is the possibility of the very failure of physicality, while the sinister fin de siecle excess of Melancholia feels like it is about to be bathed in blood.

And so I experience from my cosmic cinema seat, surveying Siopis's ever-expanding oeuvre, a kind of staccato horror story, told in different mediums and cutting across space and time.

Of course this is not my primary response to her work. In fact I'm not sure that it's even possible to have a primary response to a body of work that is so vast in scope and method. But I can't help suspect that the process of 'archiving trauma', which is, in a way, Siopis' most singular artistic function – or at least that to which she has been assigned by writers and critics – must in itself be intensely traumatic.


23 June 2009 - 19 July 2009

Red: The Iconography of Colour in the Work of Penny Siopis

Penny Siopis at KZNSA

'Within the visible spectrum it is the colour red that – through ages and cultures, across geographies and histories, spanning time – has acquired the greatest number of associations. Taking its vacillating meanings from direct and specific human experience, red is sometimes the colour of passion, of guilt, of sin. At other times it may be the hue of anger, fire, violence, revolution. It can adopt the meaning of courage, sacrifice, martyrdom. Red is also the colour of warning. But above all, its most enduring link is to the colour of blood' ( Brenton Maart, 2009).

This exhibition at the KZNSA gallery is a reflection of 27 years of Penny Siopis’ work and its engagement with the ideological, material and emotional associations of the concept and colour red. It also offers a stark reminder that we still live in turbulent times.

23 June 2009 - 19 July 2009



Penny Siopis at STEVENSON in Cape Town

Penny Siopis exhibits new paintings in oil, liquid ink washes and glue, the unpredictable materials used to deal with themes of 'collapse, disorder, decay and formlessness'.

16 April 2009 - 30 May 2009

Red: The Iconography of Colour in the Work of Penny Siopis

Penny Siopis at KZNSA

Curated by Brenton Maart, this exhibition examines Siopis’s use of a range of pigments and media over a period of 27 years. Using visceral and explosive key examples from important bodies of work, the project analyses the changing meaning of red, both in South Africa and in the artist's work.

23 June 2009 - 19 July 2009

Hlobo and Siopis on 'Wild is the Wind,' Savannah, Georgia

Penny Siopis and Nicholas Hlobo at Savannah College of Art and Design

Paying homage to the 1957 American standard 'Wild is the Wind', made popular over several decades by musical icons including Johnny Mathis, David Bowie, George Michael, Cat Power and Nina Simone, this exhibition brings together a collection of recently produced work that resonates in with this tune. The song lyrics make an appeal for love, intimacy, escapism and transcendence as love is like the wind, and wild is the wind.

Similarly, each work in the exhibition offers poetic visual and emotive moments through the exploration of translation, fantasy, epic voyages, and engagements with melancholia. Artists include Ghada Amer, Lara Baladi, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Nicholas Hlobo, Odili Donald Odita, Zineb Sedira and Penny Siopis.

'Wild is the Wind' has been organized as part of the Africa on My Mind: Contemporary Art, Home and Abroad exhibition series held in conjunction with SCAD's third biennial art history symposium.

11 January 2010 - 28 February 2010

Editions for ArtThrob Print Exhibition

Guy Tillim, Jane Alexander, Lisa Brice, Peet Pienaar, David Goldblatt, Penny Siopis, Hentie van der Merwe, Robert Hodgins, Tracey Rose, Mikhael Subotzky, William Kentridge, Zwelethu Mthethwa and Nontsikelelo Veleko at South African Print Gallery

Editions for ArtThrob is pleased to announce an exhibition of all artist prints in our collection at the South African Print Gallery in Woodstock, Cape Town. You are cordially invited to attend the opening finger lunch at 11:30am on Saturday the 29th of August, where all available prints will be for sale.

Editions for ArtThrob, in collaboration with South Africa’s leading artists, has developed a series of specially-commissioned prints; these are sold to cover the running costs of the ArtThrob website. ArtThrob is South Africa’s leading website on contemporary art, and is an important point of reference worldwide for curators, dealers and those interested in South African art.

Artists who have participated in the in the print program include William Kentridge, Penny Siopis, Robert Hodgins, Jane Alexander, Willem Boshoff, Nontsikelelo ‘Lolo’ Veleko, David Goldblatt, Guy Tillim, Lisa Brice, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Mikhael Subotzky, Peet Pienaar, Hentie van der Merwe and Tracey Rose.

In addition, we will be launching a brand new print by Robert Hodgins. Hot off the presses at Mark Attwood’s studio, the image will be available for preview the at exhibition opening. 

Please contact Natasha Norman from ArtThrob for online orders or Gabriel Clark-Brown at the SA Print Gallery for more information.

29 August 2009 - 28 September 2009


Wim Botha, Jane Alexander, Anton Kannemeyer, Hasan and Husain Essop, Penny Siopis, Daniel Naude, Lawrence Lemaoana and Nandipha Mntambo at Helsinki Art Museum (Tennis Palace)

South Africa has in the past fifteen years developed into a major centre of contemporary art, with several artists in the international limelight. 'Peekaboo' is Finland’s first major review of the artists and themes in contemporary South African art.

The key theme shared by the featured artists is society in a constant state of flux. Apartheid was abolished in 1994, but its scars are still visible. In addition to historical traumas, the artists are concerned with present insecurity, the changed role of religion and the possibilities offered by new kinds of identities. Some works explore personal experiences and others comment brutally or poetically on the surrounding reality, sometimes using humour or satire. The history of European art and modern life in South Africa converge in unexpected ways.

'Peekaboo' is produced and curated by the Helsinki Art Museum, and includes twenty South African artists. In addition to the artists, the South African partners in this venture are the Goodman Gallery, the Michael Stevenson Gallery and the Brodie/Stevenson Gallery.


20 August 2010 - 16 January 2011


Penny Siopis at STEVENSON in Johannesburg

In this solo exhibition of new work Penny Siopis presents a body of new paintings made using her signature medium, glue and ink, as well as a video work titled Obscure White Messanger. This work, made from found 8mm film footage, builds a complex narrative around Hendrick Verwoerd's assasin, Demetrios Tsafendas.

05 August 2010 - 18 September 2010