19th Jun, 2024 19:00

20th Century & Contemporary Art

 
  Lot 44
 
Lot 44 - Penny Siopis (South Africa 1953-)

44

Penny Siopis (South Africa 1953-)
Ash

ink, glue and oil on canvas

Artwork date: 2011
Signature details: signed and dated on the reverse and printed and inscribed with the artist's name the date, title, medium and dimensions on Stevenson Gallery and Iziko South African National Gallery labels on the reverse
Exhibited: Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, 'Air: Inspiration – Expiration', 8 October to 3 December 2016.
Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, 'Penny Siopis: Time and Again', 22 April to 20 July 2015.
Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, 'Who is Afraid of the Crowd?', 14 April to 21 May 2011.
Literature: 'Air: Inspiration – Expiration'. (2016). [Exhibition catalogue]. Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, illustrated in colour on p. 69.
Olivier, G. (ed). (2014). 'Penny Siopis: Time & Again', Johannesburg: Wits University Press, illustrated in colour on p.255.
'Penny Siopis: 'Who is Afraid of the Crowd?'. (2011). [Exhibition catalogue]. Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, illustrated in colour on p. 46.

Estimated at R600,000 - R800,000

 

ink, glue and oil on canvas

Artwork date: 2011
Signature details: signed and dated on the reverse and printed and inscribed with the artist's name the date, title, medium and dimensions on Stevenson Gallery and Iziko South African National Gallery labels on the reverse
Exhibited: Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, 'Air: Inspiration – Expiration', 8 October to 3 December 2016.
Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, 'Penny Siopis: Time and Again', 22 April to 20 July 2015.
Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, 'Who is Afraid of the Crowd?', 14 April to 21 May 2011.
Literature: 'Air: Inspiration – Expiration'. (2016). [Exhibition catalogue]. Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, illustrated in colour on p. 69.
Olivier, G. (ed). (2014). 'Penny Siopis: Time & Again', Johannesburg: Wits University Press, illustrated in colour on p.255.
'Penny Siopis: 'Who is Afraid of the Crowd?'. (2011). [Exhibition catalogue]. Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, illustrated in colour on p. 46.

(1)

180 x 201.5 x 4.5 cm

Provenance:

Private collection, Cape Town.

Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town.

ABOUT THE ARTWORK

Fascinated with the unpredictability of chance, Penny Siopis created the monumental, Ash using her unique medium of ink, glue and oil paint. The artist has a longstanding interest in unorthodox experiments in painting and the fluid medium – which she has worked with for nearly two decades – has become an integral aspect of Siopis’ artistic process and visual language.

Working horizontally the artist applies glue and ink to canvas. The glue is thick and sticky and the ink is either absorbed or lies on the surface – with each colour reacting differently. Siopis drips and splashes pigment and water and tilts the canvas to try and direct the flow of the medium. The glue and ink initially move into formlessness. They only take form as they dry, essentially freezing a moment. The glue is also opaque and white when it is wet ­– only becoming transparent when dry. The process of art making thus becomes an exercise in chance and waiting.

To Siopis this magical element of unpredictability is important to her art making. She is interested in the unconscious and notes that something inexplicable happens when she is working. She has to go with it even if she doesn’t know where it is going. It is through this process that the artist starts to sense something that is difficult to explain, but can be understood as a kind of unconscious thought. For Siopis the process of the ink and glue paintings, demands that she surrender to it, where the experience of making feels, “closer to the sensation of the dream than the interpretation of a dream”.[1]

Under most circumstances, the artist tries not to explain the theoretical aspect of her work but rather to describe the process she works with and see how it connects to the larger philosophical things that interest her. Medium is always critical to her message but in, Who’s Afraid of the Crowd (the exhibition in which Ash was first shown, in 2011) the anchoring theme is that of the many tensions within each individual. Here, Siopis was particularly inspired by Elias Canetti’s book Crowds and Power (1960). The study draws on a remarkable collection of myths, historical- and literary sources to discuss different types of crowds. But what interested Siopis the most was the, “unpredictable ‘open’ crowd, whose energies multiply, morph, take direction and grow”. Canetti’s description of these crowds drew on nature symbols – fire, water, forests and swarms – and the artist found these particularly resonant for her painting.[2]

The exhibition included a number of small photostats of archival material documenting historical atrocities, such as the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima (1945) and the gruesome public hangings during race riots in America. While Ash, did not have a particular pictorial reference, the images indicate the artist’s interest in or meditating on history and the dangers of a herd instinct or mob hysteria – although she is more interested in visual metaphors, than actual pictorial depiction.

In Ash, Siopis steered away from her usual palette of warm reds and pinks. Energetic shapeless streams in grays, brilliant greens and turquoise – and highlighted with soft yellows – emanate from a dark and dense focal point which hangs heavily towards the bottom of the canvas. Siopis notes that Ash works through a tension created between the materiality of the glue and ink medium and the image that emerges by chance and the sketchy and fragile figure painted in oil. The glue creates the ‘ground’ for the figure and the title is suggestive.[3] Bringing to mind environmental turbulence or catastrophes – Hiroshima, fires and floods – the ink, as it bleeds and dissolves into the glue, gives shape to formless emotions. But what is remarkable is that Ash in its uncontrollable formlessness invites viewers to exercise their own agency in understanding or even inventing an image from the rich material residue masterfully captured on the surface of the canvas.

[1] Olivier, G. (ed). (2014). Penny Siopis: Time & Again, Johannesburg: Wits University Press, illustrated in colour on p.261.

[2] 'Penny Siopis: Who is Afraid of the Crowd?. (2011). [Exhibition catalogue]. Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, illustrated in colour on p.46.

[3] Email correspondence with Penny Siopis, 21 May 2024.

COLLECTOR'S NOTE

  • Penny Siopis' first retrospective in Europe, For Dear Life. A Retrospective recently opened at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens. The exhibition is open until November 2024 and brings together the entirety of her practice while highlighting her mark on a generation of younger artists.
  • Ash was included in Time and Again (2014/2015), a major retrospective exhibition celebrating Siopis’ career. The exhibition took place at the Iziko South African National Gallery and later travelled to the Wits Museum of Art. Spanning 30 years of her artistic journey, the retrospective was accompanied by a comprehensive publication.
  • In 2018 a retrospective of the artist’s film works, This is a True Story: Six Films (1997-2017), was held at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town.
  • Notable international solo shows include, Incarnations (2016) at the Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean in Mauritius, Penny Siopis: Films (2016) at Erg Galerie in Brussels; Obscure White Messenger (2014) at Brandts Museum, Denmark and Three Essays on Shame (2005) at the Freud Museum in London.
  • Siopis has participated in numerous group shows at important institutions including, Plural Possibilities and the Female Body (2021) at Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington; Global(e) Resistance (2020) at Centre Pompidou, Paris; I Am Contemporary Women Artists of Africa (2019) at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC and The art of a nation (2016) at the British Museum, London.
  • The artist was a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) Awards in 2016. She was the first winner of the Volkskas Atelier Award (now Absa L'Atelier Award) in 1986 and won the Vita Art Now award in 1988, 1991, and 1995.
  • Prestigious biennales include the Venice Biennale (2013 and 2003), Sydney Biennale (2010), Taipei Biennale (2016), Kwangju Biennale (1995), Havana Biennale (1997 and 1994), Guangzhou Biennale (1997), and the Johannesburg Biennale (1997 and 1995).

COLLECTIONS:

The artist is represented in numerous local and international collections, notably, Constitutional Court of South Africa, Johannesburg; Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town; Tate Modern, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C.

You can place an absentee bid through our website - please sign in to your account on our website to proceed.

In the My Account tab you can also enter telephone bids, or email bids@aspireart.net to log telephone/absentee bids.

Join us on the day of the auction to follow and bid in real-time.

The auction will be live-streamed with an audio-visual feed.

Auction: 20th Century & Contemporary Art, 19th Jun, 2024

 

RESULTS HIGHLIGHTS

Viewing

Monday to Friday: 8:30 - 17:30

Saturday: 10:00 - 14:00

View all lots in this sale

Images *

Drag and drop .jpg images here to upload, or click here to select images.


 

IMPORTANT NOTICE:


 

Logistics

While we endeavour to assist our Clients as much as possible, we require artwork(s) to be delivered and/or collected from our premises by the Client. In instances where a Client is unable to deliver or collect artwork(s), Aspire staff is available to assist in this process by outsourcing the services to one of our preferred Service Providers. The cost for this will be for the Client’s account, with an additional Handling Fee of 15% charged on top of the Service Provider’s invoice.

Aspire Art provides inter-company transfer services for its Clients between Johannesburg and Cape Town branches. These are based on the size of the artwork(s), and charged as follows:

Small (≤60x90x10 cm): R480

Medium (≤90x120x15 cm): R960

Large (≤120x150x20 cm): R1,440

Over-size: Special quote

 

Should artwork(s) be collected or delivered to/from Clients by Aspire Art directly, the following charges will apply:

Collection/delivery ≤20km: R400

Collection/delivery 20km>R800≤50km

Collection/delivery >50km: Special quote

 

Packaging

A flat fee of R100 will be added to the invoice for packaging of unframed works on paper.

 


International Collectors Shipping Package

For collectors based outside South Africa who purchase regularly from Aspire Art’s auctions in South Africa, it does not make sense to ship artworks individually or per auction and pay shipping every time you buy another work. Consequently, we have developed a special collectors’ shipping package to assist in reducing shipping costs and the constant demands of logistics arrangements.

For buyers from outside South Africa, we will keep the artworks you have purchased in storage during the year and then ship all the works you have acquired during the year together, so the shipping costs are reduced. At the end of the annual period, we will source various quotes to get you the best price, and ship all your artworks to your desired address at once.

Aspire Art will arrange suitable storage during, and cost-effective shipping at the end, of the annual period.

 


Collections

Collections are by appointment, with 24-hours’ notice

Clients are requested to contact the relevant office and inform Aspire Art of which artwork(s) they would like to collect, and allow a 24-hour window for Aspire Art’s logistics department to retrieve the artwork(s) and prepare them for collection.

 


Handling Fee

Aspire Art charges a 15% Handling Fee on all Logistics, Framing, Restoration and Conservation arranged by Aspire.