Material Acts traces the life of Penny Siopis' recent glue and ink paintings, illuminating her interest in process, change, transformation and the vibrancy of her medium. As evidenced, her distinctive way of working with her material situates painting as a practice of both the imagination and social engagement.
The book features richly detailed reproductions of works made over the last decade – 'the things we call paintings' – while foregrounding their nature as the 'residue' of both the artist’s process and material transformation. In the introductory text, Siopis teases out the intricacies and implications of this dynamic relation in dialogue with herself, accompanied by immersive photographs of her working process. Sections of images are devoted to Restless Republic, in which found objects were brought in to play with the glue-and-ink paintings and movement reflected within the format of the exhibition itself, and Open Form/Open Studio, the residency in which Siopis exposed her process to the public and invited their engagement over a period of four months at the Maitland Institute. Sean O'Toole contributes an essay in which he visits Siopis' studios, private and public, and bears witness to her process, writing:
To chronicle this life, to fully expound the biography of a glue-and-ink painting, necessarily requires thinking backwards: from the vestigial object displayed on its vertical axis, back into the artist’s studio where the stretched canvas lying on the floor is 'not merely a cultural object', as philosopher Jean-François Lyotard reasoned in 1993, but also 'an excess, a rapture, a potential of associations that overflows all the determinations of its "reception" and "production"' ...
Published by Stevenson | 2018
Softcover with dustjacket, 226 pages | ISBN 978-0-620-81473-7 | Price: R700