About Penny Siopis
In her diverse practice, Penny Siopis explores the intersection of personal and public histories in South Africa. In the 1980s, Siopis produced history paintings that addressed race and gender representation in public narratives. During the ’90s, she began making prints, video works, and monumental installations. In a series of hand-printed lithographs, Siopis mines the psychology of teenage girls living in black townships in South Africa. The specter of Pinky Pink, a mythical character in black South Africa who preys on young girls, manifests the mass anxieties of communities in which rape and abuses cases are high. In her video work Obscure White Messenger (2010), Siopis presents the narrative of Demitrios Tsafendas, the man who stabbed South African Prime Minister Hendrick Verwoerd (“the architect of Apartheid”) to death in 1966. Siopis also sources imagery from Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints and 12th-century scroll paintings that present scenes of sexuality and states of disaster. "As remote as these references might appear, they resonate powerfully for me with things we might see or imagine in our contemporary moment," she says.
South African, b. 1953, Vryburg, South Africa, based in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa