THE SOUTH AFRICAN
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A work entitled: Butterside Up from Robert Slingsby’s latest show at The Irma Stern Museum Gallery, Rosebank, CT entitled: Unlimited Power CC. See Lloyd Pollak’s review on Page 4. The show ends on the 26 June 2010
Internationally acclaimed Botha 0, local Bigotry 2 Peter Machen
Botha’s elephants have been met with enthusiasim around he world, but not by the local ANC
In Durban, Andries Botha’s public art works have continued to be plagued with difficulties over the last month. The removal of the artist’s newly installed sculpture of Shaka Zulu at King Shaka Airport garnered embarassing attention from around the world, while the fate of the artist’s stone-and-gabion elephants, which were partially installed on a freeway going into the city before the ANC decided they were too reminiscent of the IFP logo is still, after all these months, undecided. Several days after the statue of Shaka – without a spear or shield, and accompanied by a number of cows – was unveiled by President Jacob Zuma, who in his speech championed the non-militaristic re-visioning of the Zulu leader, the statue was removed due to pressure from Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. Zwelithini apparently thought that Shaka looked too weak : Continued on page 3
Critic King Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has had Botha’s sculptures removed - Shaka, claims the King appears “too weak”
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South African Art Times July 2010
Botha’s recycled car tyre elephants have found loving homes throughout the world as part of his “Human Elephants Foundation” The above 3 images relate to an elephant that is currently installed at The Field Museum, Chicago, US. Enjoy more reading at www.humanelephant.org Continud from page 1: and was unimpressed with the pastoral nature of the work. Ironically, it has subsequently been suggested that it would be more appropriate if Shaka was depicted hunting elephants. While the debacle around Botha’s elephants and particularly Shaka have received much press coverage in South Africa and around the world – and considerably raised the artist’s international profile – Botha is disappointed that there has been so little substantial dialogue around the real issues at hand. For Botha, the removed Shaka work is about reflecting the true heterogeneity of identity and the body in South Africa, yet all discourse around the issue seems to take place in terms of stereotypes and homogeneity. Talking about the statue’s removal, Botha said “It is impossible for me to understand it. The question that needs to be asked is why did the ANC acquiesce so quickly to the king.” As for the elephants, Botha, who has been a model and patience and restraint for the past few months, is getting a little weary of all the debate – or lack of it. “I just want to do what I want to do. I don’t want to sit everyday with these f**kers. If I wanted to go into politics, I would have done that.” Instead he is increasingly thinking of legal action to prevent what he
refers to as “the moral integrity of the artwork” and is talking about taking the matter to the constitutional court. He is particularly unhappy with the suggestion that the elephants become elements in a ‘Big 5’ work, an idea which he has rejected from the very beginning. Botha has repeatedly stated that he is not a wildlife artist and nor is he prepared to allow his elephants, which are a profound expression of environmentalism, to constitute instead a metaphor that supports “a limited nationalist agenda.” Making the situation all the more absurd, Botha has spent the last few weeks accompanying his rubbertyre elephant Nomkhubulwane around the United States where it has been enthusiatically received. Nomkhubulwane is the 17th in a series of life-size elephant statues crafted from recycled materials On a happier note, rumours that the artworks commissioned for the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban have all been covered up by Fifa are untrue. The football body did initially erect screens in front of certain artworks but they have subsequently been removed, and all of the art at the stadium is on view to the public, presidents and football lovers around the world.
l’Afrique: A Tribute to Maria Stein-Lessing and Leopold Spiegel at Museum Africa A collection of traditional African art and South African modernist painters Curated by Nessa Leibhammer and Natalie Knight Open daily Tuesday to Sunday 9-5 Running until December 24, 2010 Enquiries 011-833-5624 Museum Africa
The education programme includes walkabouts and NCS linked interactive workshops on African art for Senior Phase Arts and Culture learners and an FET Phase Level workshop for History and Visual Arts educators, linked to an essay competition with major prizes for FET Phase learners. Education resources include a poster, DVD and a treasure hunt of 20 questions. Enquiries: Helene Smuts Arts Education Consultants cc Email: email@example.com Or phone/fax (011) 622 7871
Cecil Skotnes, Reclining Figure, 1970 painted wood panel, woodcut Collection Johannesburg Art Gallery
Barotse wooden bowl Collection Natalie Knight
Maggie Laubser, Woman and Baby, 1922; Collection University of the Witwatersrand
Alette Wessels Kunskamer Maroelana Centre, 27 Maroelana Street, Maroelana, Pretoria GPS S25º 46.748’ EO28º 1.5615’ OPEN Mon to Fri 09h00 - 16h00 Saturday 09h00 - 13h00
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A quality selection of SA old masters and selected contemporary art
South African Art Times July 2010
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Slingsby’s latest show at the Irma awakens the spirits the rain, rivers, crops, flora and fauna are all seen as living forces in constant communication with mankind. Slingsby’s intimate contact with these shingly masterpieces gave him keen appreciation of the San’s spiritual wisdom and reverence for nature, and his paintings form a tribute to this defunct tradition. The artist’s intaglio technique of incising motifs into smooth surfaced acrylic canvases mirrors the San art of inscribing motifs into rock. Prolonged communing with the petroglyphs has trained his eye to diagrammaticise the visual universe, and his mark-making invokes the San lexicon of mystic signs and symbols. A runic script of miniaturized crosses, crescents, arrows, triangles, circles, concentric rings, stars, pentagrams, stripes, zigzags, ovals, spirals and dots fill the field, and provide a philosophical yardstick whereby we can evaluate the ethical implications of the large-scale, figurative motifs. ‘Mechanical factor’ voices the artist’s fear that rampant consumerism and global warming – phenomena inconceivable within the context of traditional Khoisan culture – jeopardize the survival of earth and mankind. The car dominates his iconography, and although it spells freedom and the open road, it also implies acquisitive profligacy, the carbon fuelled economy and man’s violation of nature. Abandoned jalopys spill over the canvas, surrounding its central feature, the hugely magnified bucket of an excavator that will serve as a dump for the phalanx of aggressive vehicles relegated to the scrap heap by the strategy of planned obsolescence. Man is absent, and the convertibles and limousines with their long, pointed phallic bonnets become a stand-in for humanity and its lust for self-aggrandizement, wealth and power.
Robert Slingsby at work on Conspicuous Consumption Lloyd Pollak For the past thirty years, a specific location, a specific people, and a specific culture have been the wellspring of Robert Slingsby’s art. The place is Richtersveld in the Northern Cape. The people are the Nama, the descendants of the nigh extinct San, and the culture is the animism to which their ancestors gave concrete expression by whittling their cosmogony into stone millennia ago. Holistic ideals of balance and harmony were the foundation of Khoisan spirituality in which man and nature form a continuum. The petroglyphs served ritualistic goals as keyholes into the beyond, and their flinty magic unleashed itself during ritual trance dances when they mediated congress between the shaman and the ancestral spirits, divinities and cosmic forces who spoke through him to the tribe. The hundreds of thousands of inscribed rocks scattered throughout the Richtersveld present a hallowed world in which the earth, the firmament,
The gigantic scale and heavily accented three dimensionality of the monstrous bucket imbue it with greater reality than anything else in the painting. The voracious toothed jaw of this behemoth gives it a threatening presence as it impatiently waits to be filled with the junk that will soon engulf the planet. Horror vacui composition, teeming pullulations of wriggly, hyperactive lines, and the bleep and flash of vividly contrasting high-key hues, convey the souped-up pace of this urban jungle, and the San emblemata function as atropopaic amulets and talismans warding off imminent catastrophe. Slingsby views Green Point stadium as an architectural fanfaronade of fascist tendency, and in ‘Conspicuous Consumption’, this enormity is planted amidst a devastated landscape strewn with San hierograms. Centuries before the Dutch arrived, this site was the stomping ground of the San, yet the stadium, modeled on a Xhosa headdress, fails to acknowledge their presence and contribution. Helicopters patrol the sky and act as instruments of surveillance and control, and the clash of fiery reds and burnt-earth blacks expresses the artist’s rage and indignation. The ‘progress’ and ‘development’ wrought by globalization are seen as morally regressive, and the stadium - the hubristic outcome of megalomaniac town planning - becomes an embodiment of the historic forces that visited genocide upon the San.
South African Art Times July 2010
STELLENBOSCH Kunsgalery Art Gallery Experience the abundance of South African artistic talent by prominent South African Artists Paintings – Sculpture – Hand-blown Glass
Robert Slingsby at work on Car-bon(e) ‘Blind Rage at Rooiwal’, is a literal, rather than an imaginative, response to the utter destitution in which the Nama now live. Photographs reveal that Slingsby simply reproduces this ethnic scrapheap, and the verbatim approach proves both compositionally and stylistically unsatisfactory. The bulk of the painting is a yawning void; the demolished church is visually unexciting, and the linear stylization of the clouds and kopjes jar with the naturalistic idiom applied to the boy and horse. The artist’s approach veers from the representational to de-centered, all-over, semi-abstract compositions like ‘Moment of Flight’ and ‘In Ten Minutes’. In the latter, swinging arcs and swirling lines spin over the canvas, weaving a jiggling linear web of colour zones and overlapping syncopated lines. Scale is uniform, and the highly energized surfaces appear completely unified. However such aesthetic harmony comes at a price, for the insistent patterning and boogie-woogie rhythms distract us from whatever message the artist seeks to convey. One questions whether the jitter, agitato and zoom of Slingsby’s kinetically over-charged style can adequately convey the gravity of his subject matter. All too often the simplified imagery suggests comic book and toy box sources rather than the art of the San. In tandem with keyed-up candy floss pinks and pillar box reds, it creates a blend far too frolicsome and exuberant to convincingly enact the artist’s prophecies of doom. Slingsby’s most memorable and emotive paintings are his smoldering red apocalypses like ‘Apathy of Entitlement’. A skeletal colossus, akin to the therianthropes of traditional San art, looms over the poisoned landscape strewn with emblems of oppression - ancestral bones, graveyard crosses, manacles, union jacks, ox-wagons and bayonets. This emaciated personification of the Nama people fixes the viewer with a baleful accusatory stare that incriminates us in his degradation. His grey flesh, starved body, skull-like head and supplicating pose pronounce him in extremis. Although death appears imminent, wings sprout from his back as he enters a trance traveling beyond space and time in search of supernatural strength. Another product of the catastrophic imagination is seen in the tortured San titan frozen in a crucificatory pose amidst a holocaustal landscape in ‘Pushing the Limit’. Can the San possibly survive, these painting ask. It is our obligation to provide a positive answer. Show ends on 26 June, at The Irma Stern Museum, Rosebank, Cape Town
Apathy of entitlement 2010 (Acrylic on canvas)
Aviva Maree Fruitsellers with Oranges, oil on canvas
Blind rage at Rooiwal (Acrylic on canvas)
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THE MECHANICS AND MYSTERIES OF PERCEPTION JUNE / JULY 2010
FEATURING WORK BY ZWELETHU MTHETHWA, MATTHEW HINDLEY, SANDRA HANEKOM, MARLISE KEITH, BETH ARMSTRONG, COLBERT MASHILE, JAN VAN DER MERWE, ALEX EMSLEY, AUDREY ANDERSON, COLIJN STRYDOM, JAN DU TOIT, ERIC DUPLAN AND BARBARA WILDENBOER
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The Great South African Art Masters Series
Ribbon (2009), ink, oil and glue on canvas, 76 x 101,5cm, artist’s collection
“Sometimes images emerge out of the vicissitudes of the medium itself. Other times I draw on visual references that seem to sit on a knife-edge between extreme emotions or states of being. Many of these images allegorise deep human experience like collapse, disorder, decay, desire.” Researched and written by Peter Machen the vocation. As a child, she had attended art lessons at the local Technikon in Port Elizabeth, and, after leaving school, had wanted to study fine art there. But her mother insisted she receive a university education and so she went to Rhodes University,where she thrived and where she discovered that painting was not only about inspiration but also about hard work. At that point, Siopis wasn’t seriously considering being a professional artist, since doing so wasn’t considered to be a realistic prospect in South Africa at the time. “There was no kind of serious art world to speak of in those days, so I just thought that I would get another kind of job” says the artist. Nonetheless, after finishing her Masters, she went to England for a year on a postgraduate scholarship in painting to Portsmouth Polytechnic. was one of several key migrations that have come to define Siopis’s career. Suddenly, she says, “the idea of being an artist became more interesting to me”. When she returned to South Africa, she got a job teaching fine art at what was then Technikon Natal (now the Durban University of Technology). At that point, Siopis still felt as if her life had been planned for her and that her primary career was in teaching. During this period, she divided her time between earning her living as a lecturer and painting. This arrangement was important to her development in that it freed her from the concerns of producing saleable work. Her parallel career as an academic and the financial freedom it provides remains important to Siopis, allowing a space of great freedom for her as an artist. Artistic breakthroughs Melancholia, oil on canvas, (1986), 197.5 cm x 175.5cm
Early life Penelope Siopis was born in the small town of Vryburg in the Northern Cape and grew up and went to school in Port Elizabeth. She cites her mother as a very important influence on her artistic life due to her intense cultural awareness. There were always art books in the Siopis household, as well as a general focus on drama, music and literature. As a young girl she had a great fondness for Van Gogh, particularly his more romantic images based around suffering and poverty, which adorned her walls and photo albums. Siopis says that she didn’t decide to be an artist so much as she fell into
i. England After coming from the very traditional school that was Rhodes University, where painting was valorised and art wasn’t really challenged beyond its immediate, conventional sense, Siopis went to art school in Portsmouth, England. Suddenly the young artist found herself confronted by a broader set of politics in which art was situated – the politics of class, politics of gender, politics of the institution, politics of power in relation to aesthetic value, all concepts that had not yet seriously taken root in the South African art academies. “And that was quite a shock for me”, she says, “having come from a very traditional art school in which the aesthetic and political realms were kept separate, and my political involvements were confined to general student politics”.
That was in 1978, and the resulting paradigm shift threw the young artist into a crisis, forcing her to question all the things that she had assumed, particularly in relation to the aesthetic value of art. In this more radical context, painting was particularly unpopular, and she was one of the very few painters among her peers. According to Siopis, this crisis was productive and ultimately gave to birth to her Cake , although she only started working on them when she moved to Durban in 1980.
ii. Durban It was on her return from England that Siopis first realised that she had a specific vision to impart to the world. Having moved to Durban to teach at the Technikon Natal, she started producing her breakthrough series of Cake . The cakes were a stand-in for femininity, the oil paint a correlate of flesh and skin. The paint was literally caked onto the canvas – with cake icing tools – so thickly that it challenged gravity. The work had strong conceptual elements to it, in that it would age like skin, eventually wrinkling and cracking. In these works, the surface of the painting was as important – in fact, more important – than its content. “And somehow”, says Siopis, “I had great convictions about those paintings. I felt that they were advancing something in me regarding the ways in which the sensual and the cerebral, the imaginative and the discursive could converge.”
iii. Johannesburg After working at DUT for four years, and establishing a long-term relationship with the materiality of the painted surface, Siopis moved to Johannesburg to teach at Wits University, which was at the time the site of much political radicalism, particularly compared to Durban. This move marked another key moment of radical change for her – as she found herself challenged by the intellectual and critical context in which she was working. This was in 1984 a few years before she produced another breakthrough piece entitled Patience on a Monument: A History Painting, which a black woman, seated on a pile of debris, peels a lemon against a background of colonial battle scenes. Patiencewas a landmark work, both in aesthetic terms and in its positioning of politics. It was also a key moment for the converging of art and life, says Siopis. “Because my art invariably reflects my heightened consciousness of the moment .”
South African Art Times July 2010
stituted sequences from home movies filmed by the artist’s mother are superimposed with subtitles that tell a life story through the eyes of the artist’s grandmother. Again Siopis emphasises the materiality of the medium over and above its function as a vehicle for content-based meaning. Commenting on the piece, she says, “The dust spots, odd light and colour flares and sprocket marks are all part of revealing the artifactual quality of film. There is a sense that it registers something niggling below the surface that cannot get captured in an image.” (Image) My Lovely Day (1997), installation at the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, Dimensions variable; courtesy of the artist
1988 - A Year in the Life of the Artist Although there have been several key turning points in her career, Siopis cites 1988 as the year that was most significant in her life. It was a few years after she moved to Johannesburg and was important particularly because of the way in which her life and art came together in that year. She had married writer and artist Colin Richards the year before, and in 1988 they bought a house in Brixton together. For the first time in her life Siopis had her own studio, with all the autonomy and freedom that accompanied it. 1988 also heralded the birth of their son Alexander, who was to inspire much of Siopis’ later work. It was also the year she finally gained access to the holdings of the Musee de l’Homme in Paris where the remains of Sarah Baartman were held at the time. She had tried before in 1986, but it was a letter of introduction from Philip Tobias that opened doors in 1988. Baartman was an important part of her work at the time, which focused on representations of history gender and race. That year she also painted her breakthrough work, Patience on a Monument: A History Painting. This work, says the artist, was key to how things developed later, establishing the relationship of her work to an explicit social and political context. An earlier work entitled Melancholiawas a marked comment on the excesses of historic and contemporary colonialism, but it was Siopis’ 1988 History , of which Patiencewas the first, that connected her work to the political context and most forcibly presented that position to the world. These paintings also reflected a breakthrough in the physical way that Siopis worked. For the first time, she started using collage and photocopies, tearing up old school history books and reconstituting them as the landscape and bodies that comprised the ironic history paintings. Her critical look at colonialism and the ways in which history is told took place at the time of struggle politics at Wits, and Siopis found herself involved in intense debates about the relationship between art and politics. While she sees her move to Durban from England, and the subsequent cake paintings, as a key moment, the moment that has continue to be sustained in her career is the Patience on a Monument . And yet both of the moments have been braided into a singular artistic thread in which the increasingly unsettling content of her work is inseparable from the medium she uses. In the process she creates a bridge between the physical world in which her work is contructed and the metaphysical world of meaning and memory.
Contemporaries Siopis’ contemporaries include William Kentridge whose career began at the same time as her own. She also cites the late Robert Hodgins as an important peer, as well as her partner Colin Richards. Says Siopis of Richards, “We were and remain artistic and intellectual soulmates. Colin always says that he had no faith in painting until he met me. He was a painting agnostic. When we met in 1985, I was working on Melancholia. He said the painting widened his horizons! And he wrote his first significant academic paper on the work.”
Red – Violence and Blood Siopis’ body of work now spans over three decades of art production. A prolific creator and exhibitor, she has produced a vast number of works
Siopis’ installation work came about as result of her relationship to materiality and objecthood and an increasing number of found objects have made their way into her work. In the installation piece Charmed Lives, objects are piled together. A mug bearing the face of Nelson Mandela, Siopis’ mothers dancing shoes, Zulu shields with cowrie shells, red plastic gumboots, a shark’s jaw, a rosary, a model ship and countless other objects all speak to the way in which personal and collective histories converge and compete for the viewers attention. The objects are so densely presented that their physicality overwhelms.
Twins: mixed media on paper, 18.5 x 24.5 cm; private collection in that time, many of them filled with the psychic trauma of life in South Africa, and all of them defined by her confrontational approach to the medium at hand. At the same time, her work is bathed in a compassionate tenderness; the various ways in which she paints somehow offset the harshness of her content, making the work both accessible and substantial. Her paintings often look as if they are painted in blood. And the presence of that ‘blood’ induces a disarming sense of empathy. But even when the work isn’t dealing directly with blood or other bodily liquids, much of her work is the colour of blood. Red – in its various shades – is by far Siopis’ dominant colour, which she uses, along with other hot colours, both to heighten sensation and for its powerful symbolic value. Siopis’s work is remarkable in that it manages to showcase a catalogue of horrors that doesn’t alienate the viewer but instead draws them in to the work. This is an important aspect of her career. There are many artists who document horror, terror, trauma and abuse, but often the works repel audiences rather than draw them in to the darkness. There is an aspect of perversity and voyeurism in viewing her work, as well as suggestions of collective complicity in violence. Yet the work is not about the dramatic moment but rather about holding the gaze, about looking through the image to some kind of deeper and more resonant truth.
Video and Installations Since the mid 1990s, Siopis has expanded her oeuvre to include video and installation work. A key video piece is My Lovely Day, in which recon-
A key conceptual piece in Siopis’ career is the work Will, in which the artist leaves a physical legacy of objects from her work to be distributed around the planet in the wake of her death. Here Siopis deals with her own mortality and the relationship we all have to inherited objects. Although it is a piece that was conceptualised several years ago, it will, in a sense, be the artist’s final work, a posthumous piece that is metaphorically coated in the artists mortality and hence our own.
Recent Work – Shame, Pinky-Pinky, Ink and Glue The Shame series and the Pinky Pinky series are key to Siopis’ more recent works. Both are perfect manifestations of the medium as idea, giving visual form to a reality that exists most substantually as an interior construction, whether it is the experience of suffering and vulnerability or a mythical creature. Pinky Pinky is a Southern African urban legend, an amorphous, sexual predator of local mythology, who preys on young girls and boys. Half-human, half-animal, bi-racial, and transgendered, this creature terrorizes teenaged girls in toilets at school, even raping them. Rendered in thick oils, the figure of Pinky Pinky is only discerned through the relief of the painted surface, linking back to the Cake paintings in the artist’s approach to the medium. Siopis sees the legend, which disappeared in the late ‘60s and reappeared in the 21st century, as an allegory for the anxieties of a society in radical transition, saying “the myth seems to mirror unspeakable psychic states of fear and moral panic in our society. But as much as Pinky Pinky is a perpetrator of violence, he or it could also be a victim of and scapegoat for violent actions: a constructed ‘somebody’ to blame for social problems.”
Paint in Itself – the Artist’s Signature Style
Patience on a monument, Oil on canvas One of the things that has defined Siopis’ career is her extreme treatment of the surface of her canvas. By focusing so determinedly on the surface, she paradoxically turns the notion of a painting’s surface inside out. While art viewers are familiar with the subtle three dimensionality of oil painting, Siopis treats the surface as a sculptural element. But this is far more than any kind of technical trick or avant-garde experiment – the meaning of the painting is tied up in the way that the paint surges forth from the canvas towards the viewer. This remains true from her early Cake through to her current series of works, which use ink and glue to create a new medium in which chance, gravity and time are bound to the work itself. Talking about this new work, shes says, “I try to hold form and formlessness in dynamic tension so that the ‘image’ appears to be arrested in the moment of becoming, a kind of suspended animation. I want the paintings to remain very for projection”. These and many other works reference the female body and sexuality directly or subliminally. There is a blurring of the inside and the outside. It is
as if we are seeing into the body, both physically and psychologically. At the same time, the sculptural aspects of her work and its resulting tactility means that when Siopis moves outside of painting to other media such as installations and video, it feels more like a continuum of expression than discreetly different modes of production.
ink and glue, reflect a more general Japanese influence, both art historical and contemporary.In an interview with Sarah Nuttall, Siopis remarked that in drawing on Japanese prints or other historical sources, she is less concerned with history and specific pictorial traditions and more with “how they resonate now, in our contemporary moment”.
From the beginning of her artistic career, Siopis always recognised the paint itself as a signifier. “The surface and materiality of the painting is an idea as much as it is a means to image something,” she says. From the Cakepaintings onwards, the paint surface as embodiment has been a feature of her work. Even with video and installation works, there is a strong sense of what Siopis calls the “materiality” or “objecthood of a surface” which “speaks powerfully in and of itself, over and above what it speaks about.” At the same time, the content of her work is inseparable from that treatment of the surface and the visceral nature of her painting. This relationship between surface and meaning was further intensified by her accelerated awareness of the social and psycho-sexual landscape, particularly the position of the feminine in that landscape. The unsettling nature of her physical painting is directly reflected in her content. From the excesses of history and colonialism in her early work to the psychological darkness of her recent Shame which tears open – almost literally – the subject of abuse and vulnerability, her subject matter walks a fine line between horror and compassion. Stylistic Influences
There are numerous other references and influences in Siopis’ body of work. Her childhood devotion to Van Gogh, who revolutionised modern painting, remains significant since Siopis’ career exists in a constant cycle of revolutionising and re-inventing the painted surface and its relationship to meaning and content. As one moves through her work, there is a persistent residue of art history, while a specifically Southern African approach to representation and form is often evident, with the images in the Shame , for example seeming to reflect the form and emotional content of the apartheid-era work of woodcut artists such as Thami Mnyele and David Phoshoko.
Siopis’ work has often been at odds with the artistic trends of the time. Her work references a broad internationalist art history, while at the same time functioning within the perceptual parameters of South African audiences. In his review of her work Ambush the 2010 Sydney Biennale, critic Andrew Frost recognises Siopis as working within a specifically 21stcentury paradigm in which, thanks to the internet and the digital age, a huge mass of reference images are accessible to both artists and viewers. This has lead to the deprovincialisation of cultural references, which increasingly enables works to function more seamlessly at both a local and global level. In the work Ambush, directly references Japanese master Hokusai, while many of her other recent works, often rendered in
From the Shame series (2002- ), mixed media on paper, 18.5 x 24.5 cm; private collection
South African Art Times July 2010
The World in 1988
Cakes: Tapers (1982), oil and candles on canvas, 99 x 99cm; private collection ; Cakes: Truffles (1982), oil and candles on canvas, 45 x 45cm; private collection; Cakes: Table Two (1983), oil on canvas, 152 x 152 cm; DUT Art Gallery collection ; Cakes: Pie (1982), oil on board, 25 x 35cm, Courtesy of Sylvia Kaplan
Jan 1 - Soviet Union Premier Mikhail Gorbachev begins its perestroika of economic restructuring. Jan 26 - Phantom of the Opera opens in New York City Feb 5 - Panamanian Gen. Manuel Noriega indicted by US grand jury for drugs. Mar 7 - Divine, American transvestite actor (Hairspray, Polyester, Pink Flamingos), dies in California at age 42 15 Reports accelerated breakdown of ozone layer by chlorofluorocarbons April 3 - Somalia and Ethiopia sign Ogaden Desert accord. April 7 - Russia announces its withdrawl from Afghanistan 20 Jackson Pollock’s Search sold for $4.8 million May 8 - Francois Mitterand elected President of France May 10 - Edgar Degas’ Danseresje of 14sells for $10.1 million 15 First rocket launch of the European Space Programme 18 Death of Nico, musician and Warhol socialite. Aug 2 - Raymond Carver, American poet and short story writer dies, 50 Aug 8 - Thousands of protesters in Myanmar are killed during anti-government demonstrations Aug 19 - Iran and Iraq cease-fire after eight years of war Sep 30 - IBM announces shipment of three millionth PS/2 computer. Oct 20 - Britain ends suspects’ right to remain silent in crackdown on Irish Republican Army 8George Bush Sr becomes US President Dec 1 - Benazir Bhutto named first female Prime Minister of Pakistan Dec 6 - Roy Orbison, legendary rock singer, dies at age 52.
South Africa in 1988 Feb 24 - Apartheid regime bans the United Democratic Front April 12 - Alan Paton, writer, dies age 85 Jul 28 - Winnie Mandella’s home in Soweto destroyed by arson July 29 - Government bans anti-apartheid film Cry Freedom. Aug 8 - South Africa declares cease-fire in Angola Aug 16 - Nelson Mandela struck with tuberculosis while still in prison Oct 19 - Anti-apartheid leader Walter Sisulu wins $100,000 Human Rights prize Nov 23 - President Botha reprieves the Sharpeville Six Dec 6 - Nelson Mandela is transferred to Victor Vester Prison in Capetown Dec 22 South Africa signs accord granting independence to South-West Africa
Sources This artists profile was based on a conversation between Peter Machen and Penny Siopis in June 2010, supplemented by earlier conversations and interviews with the artist. Other sources The Blood of Beauty – An Interview with Penny Siopis by Peter Machen, published in the Sunday Tribune in June 2009. When the Heart Beats, It’s Pumping Blood by Peter Machen for the catalogue for the exhibition Red the KZNSA Gallery in 2009 Review of Siopis’ lecture How Memory Works, Michaelis by Kim Gurney (http://www.artthrob.co.za/03apr/reviews/michaelis_lecture2.html) Review of Charmed Lives (http://www.imnet.nl/clients/gatefoundation.nl/Artists/Siopis.htm) History.org (http://www.sahistory.org.za/pages/people/bios/siopis_p.htm) Review of Joburg Biennale on Artthrob.co.za http://www.artthrob.co.za/december/biennale.htm Penny Siopis: Paintings, Michael Stevenson catalogue 42, May 2009 (http://www.namibiana.de/craft-art-in-south-africa.html)
Above: Blush: Scarlet (2005), oil, mixed media and found object on paper, 100 x 140cm; private collection, (Below) Shame 3, (Below left) Shame painting 2, (Below right) Ambush
6108 CG AD Art South Africa.indd 1
Researched and written by Peter Machen
The Cape Gallery, 60 Church Street seeks to expose Fine Art that is rooted in the African Tradition, Rotating exhibitions add to the diverse and often eclectic mix of work on show.
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6/17/10 1:54:35 PM
Mature Sangoma, oil on canvas
Lolly Hahn-Page Like the Surrealists, Lolly is intrigued by the tension of opposites, and particularly searches for the ‘gap’, or briefly recognised moment of connection between these opposites, which connect everything. Her particular motivation is to explore the worlds of diverse human culture in contrast to that of nature, and to realise the ‘gap’ between the two. Nature and culture too often appear to operate in conflict, although humans rely on nature for our very survival. Who of us actually know the original source of petrol or apricot jam, and are able to link these with our own consumption? Are we humans, in our delusionary sleep, already over the brink? She believes each one of us individually has the responsibility to make a change. The history of human activity and culture, particularly our massively increasing human numbers, mostly have tragic consequences for nature, and other humans. Humanities opportunistic behaviours and cultures have taught us to dominate nature, resulting in a totally lopsided relationship with the hand that feeds us. The less we carefully observe the “nature of things”, the more exponentially we reach the tipping point. The point, space or ‘gap’, to which Lolly refers, lies between examples such as day and night, sleep and waking, life and death, and humanity’s diverse cultures in contrast to nature. To find this point of connection and thus raise our awareness we need to be highly alert. The ‘gap’ is apparent during intense philosophical contemplation, as she believes its visibility stems from within. Lolly’s multicultural imagery attempts to express these illusive ‘reflective spaces’ which lie between the ‘objects’. Her purpose is to create emotive moods which are not necessarily comfortable, but which
Erupting forms, oil on canvas
Dream Landscape, oil on canvas
email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.art.co.za/lollyhahnpage/default.htm represent and challenge the human condition in relation to that of nature with all its positive and negative implications, dualities and consequences. She hopes to provoke both simple and complex responses and questions from viewers.
Exhibition opening on Saturday, 17 July 2010 at 11 am ARTVARK Gallery 48 Main Road, Kalk Bay, Cape Town Ph: 021 788 5584 (ARTVARK, also at New Cape Quarter in the city 021 418 6572)
Internationally, and particularly in South Africa (Lolly’s land of birth) the culture versus culture debate continues, where egotism, greed, racism and opportunism seem to predominate. We humans are so busy obsessing about our inter-human differences, and some commonalities, that we often forget to regard nature as the most important part of the survival equation. Mess this up and we are done. Avoidance at it’s best. Are we humans simply missing the point as technology takes over? Lolly believes that the essential culture versus nature debate is too often underplayed or disregarded. She is astounded by the lopsided sense of human entitlement which abounds and believes we can no longer rely on the teachers of our many cultures or our world wide, and local, political leaders to find the truth of the ‘gap’. Role models too often lack wisdom, insight, foresight, dignity and integrity. We need to realise, in quietness, that to find the link or ‘gap’ is a personal search, where keen observance and deep individual thought is the essential effort we need to make in order to develop a higher consciousness, in relation to nature which feeds us all, regardless of our differences. However, as technology evolves and populations bulge, so personal human contemplation time seems to hugely diminish. She is particularly inspired by Kandinsky’s work of 1910 to 1914 where he attempts to reach this point of ‘abstract’ contemplation. He refers to the subtleties of frequency and vibration in music, art and all that exists as we know it, and discusses in his writings that “humankind is overly dominated by materialistic thinking, and our feelings are under threat of growing coarse.” The enthusiasm and survival of LIFE and the pursuit of careful CREATIVITY is what Lolly is exploring… and its vast processes.”
Eleven Diagonal Street, oil on canvas
Portrait of Owen Ndou (Venda artist), oil on canvas
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the art of recognising yourself
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www.ridley.co.za Looking Out, oil on canvas 35 x 45 cm
At The Salon, oil on canvas 30 x 40 cm
UN O HE M ISA ain A PE AR Ca rt G NIN T m al G OF pu le s / ry, D A SO Te Th TE C l: 0 eo : 1 CE 12 Va n 42 W 8 J R 9 6 ijk UN EX 82 Bu 3 / ild E HIB uk ing -7J IT un , B UL IO 1@ 5N un 02, Y isa Go .ac ld .za fiel ds En tra
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Pomegranate I, hand-printed lithograph, 51 x 70 cm. Edition 40.
Two men cutting grass
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Art Times Judith May 2010.indd 1
Candice Breitz Ex Libris South Africa Cibachrome photograph 2009
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SO Stanley Pinker, Night oil on canvas, 151 by 92cm Estimate R500 000 – 600 000
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