STEVENSON is proud to present Never The Same Water Twice and Feral Figurations, two solo exhibitions by Penny Siopis, each offering new perspectives on the films and paintings key to her practice.
Taking place in Cape Town and Johannesburg, the exhibitions work independently and in tandem to articulate the artist’s long-held and continually redefined philosophies around materiality, found forms and radical contingency. Since the late 1970s, Siopis has worked across various media in innovative ways that merge the visceral and the conceptual, consistently engaging with the shifting social and political situations in South Africa and beyond.
In Johannesburg, Feral Figurations features new and recent paintings which demonstrate Siopis’s engagement with glue, ink and oil. In the long gallery, her Atlas series is shown in expanded form for the first time. Through their uniform scale, these small works on paper showcase the breadth of the artist’s lexicon within the medium, oscillating between the liquid overlay prominent in her glue and ink works, gestural washes and dense layers of ink and oil paint interspersed with areas of sgraffito-like reduction. This series, now in its seventh chapter, references art historian Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas, in which numerous seemingly unrelated images were juxtaposed in ways that prompted new visual and psychological associations. Siopis has stated:
My task is to set the conditions for potential images to emerge through putting ink, glue and oil in intimate relation. Sometimes things flow in fluid washes, sometimes they stick in crusty clumps of impasto. Always, they are the kind of visual incident that is also a gesture of openness... There is a painterly grammar to what happens, one that harks back to my own long language of painting. The possibilities are endless, making these little pictures very demanding. What do they want?
Never The Same Water Twice: Nine Films (1997-2021), and Feral Figurations foreground the ways in which Siopis’s practice is both canonical and contemporary, recognising her expansive, groundbreaking contributions to the field in this, her 70th year.
Feral Figurations opens Saturday 25 March from 10am to 1pm, with an artist walkabout taking place from 11am.