We are pleased to announce our first solo exhibition with British born artist Penny Slinger, who lives since the 1990s in California.
Penny Slinger started her career as one of the few celebrated women artists in the milieu of the late 1960s ‘Swinging London’. She graduated from Chelsea College of Art in 1969, formulating her thesis on Max Ernst and finding her artistic identity in Surrealism.
Slinger’s interest in her drawings, collages and sculptural work was from the beginning clearly focused on a feminist re-formulation of Surrealism’s potential for self-transgression, and on an emancipatory exploitation of the realm of sexuality. In the early 1970s, she engaged in various cross-cultural practices, undertaking the set-design and art direction, for the all-women experimental theatre group “Holocaust” as well as appearing as one of the actresses. The groundbreaking and excessive experimentation of this theater collective provided the base for Jane Arden’s film “The Other side of The Underneath”. In the same years Penny Singer had successful solo exhibitions at Angela Flower Gallery in London presenting Slinger’s innovative and provocative assemblage sculptures.
Inspired by the collage work of Max Ernst, and in particular “La Semaine de Bonte” and “La Femme 100 Têtes”, Slinger published in the same year “50 % – The Visible Woman” – a book that blends visually and intellectually her poetic writing with feminist collage work. “I wanted to make a surrealist statement, from a woman’s point of view. Each image and its poem represents a psycho-mythic confrontation, usually about the nature of how a woman is seen and how she sees herself.” “50 % – The Visible Woman” became a milestone for British feminism. At the same time Slinger’s book infiltrated the imaginative realm of popular culture.
In 1977 Slinger published the art book “An Exorcism”. This project will be at the core of our upcoming exhibition in New York. According to the artist’s own words “An Exorcism” is a “surreal romance in photo collage”. British Surrealist Roland Penrose wrote the preface for the book, which is structured into biographical chapters and events of a young woman’s journey into a new state of consciousness. In most of the images Penny Slinger is using her own body and persona as a model; and the story infers an underlying autobiographical narrative while at the same time transgressing into newly imagined archetypical scenarios and surreal transgression. The whole scenery of this crypto-biographical journey is atmospherically staged, – in the English Gothic setting of the stately home of Lilford Hall -, that combines the intense atmosphere of British neo-Romantic painting with the dramatic portent of a horror film.
After a long period of interruption of awareness in the contemporary art world for Penny Slinger’s innovations and pioneering achievements, her work has recently been re-contextualized in the exhibition The Dark Monarch: Magic and Modernity in British Art at the Tate St. Ives (cat.), 2009. In the same year Slinger’s outstanding contribution to female Surrealism was re-introduced in the exhibition Angels of Anarchy. Women Artists and Surrealism at Manchester Art Gallery (cat).