Preoccupied with the crisis of climate change, the work of Robyn Penn (b.1973) sees images of clouds, glaciers and oceans act as recurring references to climate change debates as well as symbols for an uncertainty and unease that is both global and personal. Influenced by Romanticism as well as Japanese ukiyo-e painting, Penn’s meditative renderings across various media – including painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture – explore the opposing feelings of intense anxiety and acute wonder that characterise the Sublime. Penn alludes at times to fleshy corpulence in her renderings of pink toned, painterly clouds in oils; while in her prints and ink drawings she explores feelings of mutability and intangibility in complex mark making and deft use of contrast.


Penn was awarded the Ampersand Fellowship, New York in 2012 and has been a finalist in both the Sasol New Signatures Competition (2002 and 2003) and the Absa L’Atelier competition (2005). Selected exhibitions include New Romantics (Barnard, Cape Town, 2018); Fluid: Perspectives in Paint (Barnard, Cape Town, 2017); Natural Selection (KKNK Festival, Oudsthoorn, 2017); /’ATMES,FIR/ (David Krut Projects, New York, 2017); Paradise Lost (Barnard, Cape Town, 2017); Cloud of Unknowing (2016, David Krut Projects, Johannesburg); Cumulus (2015, David Krut Projects, Johannesburg); Postcard (2014, Art First Projects, London); and Echo (David Krut Projects, Johannesburg, 2013).