Glue and Ink

“I want the gap between my body and the canvas to become small. Better still, not at all. My eyes must brush up against its face. Or live on my fingertips...It all depends on how you see the life in its flow, its state as both liquid and solid, and how you create the tension between figure and ground in its open form” (Siopis, 2018)

For the last 15 years Penny Siopis has been extending her interests in materiality and contingency; form and formlessness into experiments with the unorthodox medium of glue and ink. She shows matter to be alive, creating a fluid process in which the medium is an active agent in the making of the work.

Siopis began involving this particular medium into her practice in 2007, works that came to live in her 2009 solo show ‘Paintings’ at Stevenson Gallery, an exhibition in 2011 as well as her 2017 solo show titled ‘Restless Republic’ where the glue and ink paintings were in conversation with various objects, simultaneously referencing art, society and politics. In the same year Penny worked in residence at the Maitland Institute – a time titled Open Form/Open Studio. She has used the glue and ink more recently in 2019 exhibitions such as Warm Water Imaginaries where oil paint is brought back into the fold.

During Open Form/Open Studio Siopis invited members of the public into the space to engage with the process whilst she worked in situ on large-scale glue and ink paintings – a rare opportunity to experience the ‘life’ of the medium and its ability to change from the white opacity of household glue that over time becomes transparent.

 The process is lodged in an experimentation with orientation, namely horizontality: the dialogue between body and a canvas on the floor, to painting on a wall; blurring boundaries of subject and object – how horizontality can dislodge those dominant optics that undervalue bodily ways of knowing. There is a concern with the arrested moment: both materially in the liquid glue that then hardens and dries; as well as the physical gesture of dripping, splashing and moving the paint – all frozen in time within this painted surface. More than this idea of the ‘fixed’ however, is Siopis’ focus on material’s ability to hold onto and show signs of its becoming.

Ambush, 2008, Ink and glue on canvas, 200 x 250cm At Sea, 2008, Ink and glue on paper, 48 x 38cm Overboard, 2008, Ink, glue and oil on paper, 36 x 43.5 cm Stranger, 2008, Ink, glue and oil paint on paper, 36 x 43.5 cm Beast, 2009, Ink and glue on canvas, 69.5 x 60cm Three Trees, 2009, Ink and glue on canvas, 200 x 250cm Migrants, 2008, Ink and glue on canvas, 200 x 300cm Pine, 2008, Ink and glue on canvas, 160 x 206cm Floating World, 2009, Ink and glue on canvas, 200 x 250cm Hundred Pieces, 2009, Ink and glue on canvas, 100 x 80cm Twins, 2009, Ink and glue on canvas, 150 x 100cm Radica and Doodica, 2010, Ink and glue on canvas, 55 x 71cm Hungry ghost, 2010, Ink and glue on canvas, 61 x 51 cm Quake, 2010, Ink and glue on canvas, 91.5 x 61 cm A child frightened by a blom, 2007, Ink, oil and glue on paper, 17.7 x 25.4cm Blow-up, 2010, Ink and glue on canvas, 200 x 300cm Time and Again, 2011, Ink and glue on canvas, 250 x 170cm Swarm, 2011, Diptych, Ink and glue on canvas, Left panel: 200 x 180cm; right panel: 200 x 125cm Ash, 2011, Ink, glue and oil on canvas, 180 x 200cm (detail) And then a strange thing happened, 2016, Glue and ink on canvas, 100 x 150cm It is like in the beginning, 2016, Glue and ink on canvas, 105 x 150cm Gravity’s Wave, 2016, Glue, ink and oil on canvas, 200 x 125cm Beside, 2016, Ink and glue on canvas, 245 x 170cm World’s Edge, 2010/2016, Glue, ink, and oil on canvas, 150 x 200cm He studies the colour of my dark eyes and writes down all the details, 2016, Glue and ink on canvas, 198.5 x 303cm Restless Republic: Rock, 2017, Glue, ink and found object on canvas, 30.5 x 30cm Restless Republic: Witness IV, 2016-17, Glue, ink and found object on canvas, 100.5 x 100.5 x 20cm Restless Republic: Spill II, 2017, Glue, ink and found object on canvas Canvas 90 x 120cm; with spill 197 x 128cm Restless Republic: Witness III, 2016-17, Glue and ink on canvas, found object, 260 x 170 x 25cm Restless Republic: Cave, 2016, Glue and ink on canvas, 35 x 25.5cm Restless Republic: State, 2017, Glue, ink and found object on canvas, 100 x 150 x 22.5cm Restless Republic: Mediterranean I, 2017, Glue, ink and found objects on canvas, Diptych, 106 x 80 x 12cm each Restless Republic: Of Stone, 2017, Glue and ink on canvas, 100.5 x 45.5cm Flow's Warm Arrest, 2010-17, Glue and ink on canvas, found object, 81.5 x 103cm Restless Republic 2017 Installation view, Restless Republic: Concatenation (week one) Restless Republic 2017 Installation view, Restless Republic: Concatenation (week two) Transfigure I, 2017, Glue and ink on canvas 400 x 200 cm (each) Transfigure III, 2017, Glue and ink on canvas 400 x 200 Transfigure III, 2017, Glue and ink on canvas 400 x 200 cm (each) Transfigure II, 2017, Glue and ink on canvas 400 x 200 cm