Penny Siopis was born in Vryburg, Northern Cape, South Africa. She currently lives and works in Cape Town.
She has an MFA (1976) and an Honorary Doctorate (2017) from Rhodes University, Grahamstown. Siopis is currently an Honorary Professor at Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town but has lectured at both the University of the Witwatersrand and the Natal Technikon in Durban, South Africa.
Siopis works in painting, film/video, photography and installation. Siopis’ work spans from traditional still-lives and representational oil paintings to incorporating found objects. In her more contemporary works she considers abstraction to represent the current climate of social and political engagement in South Africa.
Her work has reflected the physicality of paint and painting processes but has also responded to material culture and the thematics of history, migration and memory.
Siopis’ work has spanned from traditional still-lives, representational paintings in oil painting to incorporating found objects. In more contemporary work, abstraction is considered to represent the current climate of social and political engagement in South Africa. Her exploration of process based work incorporates ink and white glue with paint, large-scale paintings which represent the duality of form and formlessness.
In 2015, Siopis celebrated 30 years of production with a major retrospective titled Time and Again which was exhibited at the Iziko South African National Gallery and the Wits Museum of Art.
Siopis has exhibited locally and internationally since 1975, and has won numerous of awards including the Volkskas Atelier Award, and the Vita Art Now award.
Solo exhibitions include, Films at Erg Gallery (Brussels, Belgium: 2016), Time and Again: A Retrospective Exhibition at the South African National Gallery (Cape Town, South Africa: 2014) and Wits Art Museum (Johannesburg, South Africa: 2015); Red: The iconography of colour in the work of Penny Siopis at the KZNSA Gallery (Durban, South Africa: 2009), and Three Essays on Shame at the Freud Museum (London, England: 2005).
Notable group shows include The Quiet Violence Of Dreams at Stevenson Gallery (Cape Town, South Africa: 2016), Boundary Objects at the Kunsthaus Dresden (Dresden, Germany: 2015); After Eden/Après Eden – The Walther Collection at La Maison Rouge (Paris, France: 2015); Prism: Drawing from 1990-2011, Museum of Contemporary Art (Oslo, Norway: 2012); PEEKABOO – Current South Africa at Tennis Palace Art Museum (Helsinki, Finland: 2010). Siopis has exhibited in various Biennale’s including the Taipei Biennial (Taipei, Taiwan: 2016) Venice Biennale (Venice, Italy: 2013 and 2003) as well as the Sydney Biennale (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia: 2010), amongst others