Robyn Denny

Artist Profile

Robyn Denny, born in South Africa in 1972, is a painter and video artist. Denny majored in painting at Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town, then attained a Master of Fine Arts from Goldsmiths College in London, where she graduated primarily in video art. After graduation Denny co-curated JUNCTURE in London and Cape Town, the critically renowned group show, and created her own video-installation for it – Earth, Air, Fire, Water. A solo exhibition of large black works, INK PAINTINGS Underground at The Hudson, marked the artist’s return to painting, currently her primary medium.

Research Project Indian Ocean

Feelings of entrapment and entanglement in my Natal childhood emerged amidst an abundance of wild bananas and sugar cane fields – my current series began with the vivid remembering of this density of Durban foliage.

Later, during heady trips in my teens across the Indian Ocean to the coastal havens of Mauritius, I learned that the sugar estates there were part of the same system of indentured labour that serviced the South African sugar industry.

IndigoSeries | Indigo 2016 – 2017

The INDIGO – Passage to Healing body of work represents a bold new de-colonial discourse exploring HEALING through painting and performance, closely connecting the themes to the historic Indigo dye that runs through a hidden narrative in African history, soaking it in untold stories of the mass enslavement of Africans, and a disconnected heritage in which bodies were traded for cloth. Ending Invisibility & Women’s Bodies Edited Out of History.


Series | Hatched, 2014 – 2016

This body of paintings forms part of the alchemy of the ‘Hatched 2015’ cross-disciplinary collaboration. The language of Denny’s inks re-imagines Mamela Nyamza’s originally choreographed and intensely personal and transformative dance in a new medium.


Series | Large Black Inks, 2007

These large-scale ink paintings explore the emotive and affective potentials of relationships of surface to depth, and between scale and texture. In some of the purely abstract pieces, we see kelp-like oppressive environments emerge as well as wave-like movements. In other more figurative works, we see a recurring bird motif being explored by the artist. Oscillating between stark, skulking ravens and injured fragile types, the birds are totemic in scale yet bleak in their pathos. The immediacy of the black ink on paper is exacerbated by the rough, rapid strokes and saturated, heavily-worked surfaces. Other works explore the tensions between text and mark, in the form of seeping, scratched lamentations.





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