It’s difficult to look at Penny Siopis’ work and not be stirred, largely because it is steeped in political and social metaphor – a jarring look at humanity and South Africa through innovative art techniques and forms.
Iziko Museums presents her work spanning three and a half decades as a contemporary artist in South Africa. One of the most widely known and appreciated artists, it is certainly something special to see her art in the flesh. Time and Again: A retrospective exhibition by Penny Siopis has been one of the most anticipated events on the Iziko calendar, so a trip up the stone steps and through the glass doors of the National Gallery in the Company’s Garden is a must.
Many of her iconic works are on display, from her ‘Pinky Pinky’ series right through to ‘Beyond the Surface’. Her work has become part of our country’s cultural heritage and is both admired and studied by scholars, art fans and academics alike.
Siopis explores narratives that speak of personal and collective history, trauma, shame and loss. Using collage, mixed media, found objects and high relief techniques (or ‘impasto’), she comments on the sociological and psychological traumas experienced by South Africans over time.
She builds up paint and textures to create heightened impact, and the large, immersive works make the subject matter more jarring. To be honest, I left feeling shaken and unnerved. It’s an extraordinary body of work, and if art can shake you up in such a way, you know it’s worthy of its title.
Where South African National Gallery, Government Avenue, Company’s Garden, CBD
When 17 December 2014 – 23 March 2015
Cost R30; students and pensioners R15
Contact +27 21 481 3800, www.iziko.org.za