There is something reassuring about surrealism. Imagery that can at once seem obtuse and oneiric, when well executed, seeps into that area of your mind that looks after vague familiarity. Presumably one of the reasons the Surrealists of the early twentieth century remain so popular among audiences and academics alike is in their ability to transcend the tangible with something that speaks at once to the past, the future and the now.
Currently on display at Riflemaker is an exhibition of work by Penelope Slinger. ‘A Photo-Romance’ is a series of photo-collage and 3D works made by the artist in the mid- to late-1970s. Overtly feminist while feminism was still a dirty word, Slinger’s work takes surrealism as a point of origin for a mode of exploring the female psyche. Presenting herself as both subject and object in her works, Slinger’s work balances between being a commentary on personal psychological attitudes and prevailing social mores.
Slinger’s work is explicitly spiritual; she describes her art as “a map of the journey of the Self”. However, it remains intensely political. She left the UK shortly after the creation of the works on display here, and it is her first solo show in this country since her expatriation in 1979. ‘A Photo-Romance’ is a highlight in the West End right now.
Penelope Singer: ‘A Photo-Romance’ is at Riflemaker until 30 October.