This is the third exhibition of Slinger’s early works at Riflemaker, and follows her participation in HISTORY IS NOW at the Hayward Gallery.
Penelope Slinger first came to prominence aged twenty-one in 1969 when she showed 3D works in Young and Fantastic at the ICA. In her collages and montages of the 1970s, she presented herself as both subject and object, using the tools of Surrealism to explore the female psyche in explicit depictions of ‘feminine power’. With her anarchic viewpoint, Slinger was outside the artistic movements of the time, and provoked and challenged many of her peers and the media. As a result she left Britain for America in 1979 and never returned.
The artist’s new photo-collages are created from An Exorcism, a body of work created between 1970 and 1977 in the tradition of the classical 'photo-romance', taking its cue from Max Ernst's Une Semaine de Bonte and La Femme 100 Têtes. In these works the artist explores the ultimate romance - the death and rebirth of Self - in the setting of a deserted country mansion, in empty rooms representing the ‘chambers’ of a woman's being. Each image is a meditation on a state of consciousness, where dream and reality collide, and the subconscious comes under scrutiny. Her first photo-book 50% The Visible Woman, was published in 1971, and in her final collection of this period, Mountain Ecstasy (1978), Slinger achieved a rare combination of the erotic and the mystical, attributed to her involvement with the all-women theatre troupe Holocaust in 1971.
Slinger’s work throughout the 1980s was influenced by her interest in Tantric Art, melding her own mode of Surrealism with a radical approach to spiritual energy that linked the subconscious to the superconscious, to open a realm of unlimited potential.
The artist’s many works include art direction for, and an appearance in The Other Side of the Underneath (1972), production and design for Picasso’s play The Four Little Girls (1972), The Secret Dakini Oracle (1978), illustrations for Sexual Secrets: the Alchemy of Ecstasy (1979 & 2000), The Secret Dakini Oracle (1979) and The Path of the Mystic Lover (1993). In 2009, her collages were exhibited at Tate St Ives in The Dark Monarch and Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists & Surrealism at Manchester City Art Gallery.