Time and Again: A retrospective by Penny Siopis

Iziko Museums is hosting an exhibition by acclaimed South African contemporary artist Penny Siopis, entitled Time and Again.

Iziko Museums of South Africa is hosting an exhibition by acclaimed South African contemporary artist, Penny Siopis. Entitled Time and Again, this retrospective survey into her artistic career will be displayed at the Iziko South African National Gallery (ISANG) from 18 December 2014. This exhibition reflects over three decades of Siopis’ creative production, and draws on the recurring themes of history, sexuality, race, memory, estrangement and violence.

Working within the genres of painting, video and installation, this innovative artist explores intimate narratives that speak of personal and collective history, trauma, shame and loss. Whatever the medium - whether oil paint, glue, found objects or time-ravaged home movies - materiality is as important as the subject matter which comments on historical representations that have shaped South Africans over time. UCT art professor, Colin Richards wrote: ‘Siopis’ creative affair with materiality and surface is as much an intellectual as an intuitive passion. Tracking that passion through her work offers us profound insights into her distinctive creative responsiveness, riskiness and resilience.’

Although Siopis’ artwork is clearly grounded in the present, both past and future are deeply implicated in its content and physical appearance. The processes of change, decay and ageing (all traces of the passage of time) are integral to her approach, and highlight the artist’s skilful ability to make time tangible through her manipulation of process, chance and materiality.

Time and Again features key examples from Siopis’ seminal bodies of work, and include the artist’s early Cake paintings that gained her international recognition. Also on show are her History paintings, the Shame and Pinky Pinky series, as well as the more recent ink and glue paintings. The exhibition draws on major institutional and personal collections within South Africa. These include the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the Rupert Art Foundation, Wits Art Museum and the William Humphreys Art Gallery, in addition to numerous private collectors.

Audiences will have the opportunity to experience Siopis’ object-filled installations, and view films that speak to her personal and South African collective history. Key works here are the ever-popular My Lovely Day and Obscure White Messenger. Visitors will also be able to trace the evolution of Siopis’ ideas, themes and techniques, and to see their development in the context of our country’s history.

“Museums are dynamic spaces, providing a platform for discourse, exploration and debate. Through this exhibition we see art, design, history and technology come together in a visual narrative that connects collections from across the country. In the same breath, the educational component of the exhibition contributes to Iziko’s endeavour to provide platforms of engagement and facilitate social cohesion through education that elevates”, says Rooksana Omar, CEO of Iziko.

Siopis' works are recognised globally, as well as studied and admired by both learners and academics. Subsequently, the exhibition will have a strong educational component, drawing in learners and scholars from schools and tertiary institutions.

A comprehensive book tracing the trajectory of Penny Siopis’ artistic production is being published by Wits University Press, and is titled Penny Siopis: Time and Again. Edited by Gerrit Olivier, this book contains essays and interviews by leading artists, critics and cultural commentators that contextualise this prolific artist’s contribution to South African art history. The book will be available to purchase at ISANG throughout the duration of the exhibition. A version of the exhibition will be installed at the Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg, in April 2015. 

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