Contemporary Art

Live Auction, 16 February 2019

Contemporary Auction
  • Penny Siopis; Gravity's Wave

Lot Estimate
ZAR 500 000 - 700 000

About this Item

South African 1953-
Gravity's Wave
ink and glue on canvas
200 by 125cm excluding frame


Over the past decade, Penny Siopis’s Cape Town studio has been routinely stocked with containers of Alcolin, a local brand of cold glue. Siopis began working with glue as a painting medium in her Shame paintings (2002 – 05), intimately scaled tonal works on paper. The glue’s agency in holding and directing her red inks prompted Siopis to begin using it on canvas. Her first large-scale work on canvas using cold glue and ink was Ambush (2008), a work referencing Hokusai’s woodblock print The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (1814). The present lot appeared on her 2017 exhibition Restless Republic. The dense accumulation of colour and glue at the centre of the canvas is the outcome of a defined studio method: the work was produced without a brush on a horizontal canvas, which Siopis gently tilted. ‘The process is not just about getting a formal effect. The correlations between what I do here physically and my philosophical and political interests in agency, subject/object and figure/ground distinctions, opacity, immanence, viscerality – it all happens experientially in the work.’1 Although notionally an abstract painting, Siopis strategically placed three black dots in an area below the central coalescence of green and blue inks. The intervention, slight as it is, is suggestive of a figure.

Sean O’Toole

  1. Penny Siopis. (2018) Material Acts, Cape Town: Stevenson. Page 205.


Stevenson, Cape Town, Restless Republic, 26 January to 4 March 2017.

Welgemeend, Cape Town, Shifting Boundaries: A selection of works showcasing South African women artists of the past 100 years, August 2018. Illustrated in colour on page 43 of the exhibition catalogue.


Penny Siopis. (2018) Material Acts, Cape Town: Stevenson. Illustrated in colour on pages 76 and 77.

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