Penny Siopis, On Stains - Confess, 2008_TNCM Collection

- Born in Vryburg, Johannesburg and based in Cape Town, Penny Siopis is a well-established artist and noted academic, particularly interested in the ways that national history and personal memory intersect in visual narratives of the South African social climate. She became very well known for her ‘banquet’ paintings (particularly Melancholia, 1986) and her history paintings in the 1980′s, the latter focusing on questions of race and gender representation in public history. During the 1990′s she extended her range of media to include monumental installations, printmaking and video. She is particularly interested in the intersection of biography and autobiography in narrating aspects of South African history through film. Her later bodies of works often deal with concerns of shame, violence and sexuality.

Much like her Pinky Pinky and Shame series, Siopis places the threatened, sexed body of the girl child at the centre of this work. Pink and red colours congeal like blood and flesh. She signals to gendered violence evident in high rates of rape and abuse towards women, and also to the figure of the child, especially the girl, against whom the anxieties of society are played out. The figure is depicted with her feet together, chained wrists crossed in front of her, eyes closed, exposing feelings of aggression, fear and death itself. Implicit in the work is the extent to which girls’ abilities to protect their bodies have been profoundly violated.