Sphinxy minx, 2019

Unique Artwork


Polyurethane Resin

CM H 90 W 130 Thickness 370

IN H 35.43 W 51.18 Thickness 145.67

Signed by artist

Sphinxy minx, 2019

"Deep she diver her" is the third solo exhibition of Marlene Steyn with SMAC Gallery. Steyn’s deep she dive her comes as an ocean of woman, and, in its vast expansion of numerous and various female appendages, is a body without end, passing into infinity. Taking heed of Cixous’ call, and perhaps understanding it better than most, Steyn’s work moves through the limits of language (both visually and within the written word – her titles are a feast of seemingly immeasurable ideations) and the world as discoursed by man; moves beyond the notion of woman as only a receptacle, a vessel for the penis and a place for the embryo to grow – and poses the question: But what of the water that flows through her?

Here, Steyn places an emphasis on the understanding of woman as never having had place, or space, in (phallocentric) history; of woman as a porous body, entangled within the environment, at once everywhere and nowhere; of woman as water – of s e e p i n g, flowing, swall-O-wing, without ever inscribing or discerning contours. Here, Steyn makes possible the impossible nature of woman; impossible because woman has, for so long, been untenable in a real social setting.

Adept at choosing telling details, Steyn’s choice of emphasis is evident in her review of familiar objects, feminine mystiques, and the Imaginary – creating uncanny motifs through repetition and unpredictable combinations. Using anchor points – such as the female figure, aquatic scenes, and snakessssssss – Steyn reinforces the symbolic visual language (her painting as writing, yes!) that has become synonymous with her method of working, and, in turn, establishes herself, woman, as the taker and initiator, as the dynamic subject.

Marlene Steyn

Marlene Steyn was born in 1989 in Cape Town, South Africa, where she currently lives and works. She obtained her Master of Fine Art degree in 2014 from the Royal College of Art in London, UK. 

"All of my work moves towards the same questions and themes, but I’m very interested in the process we follow to create a sense of self in this contemporary time—especially as a female. My work is a combination of deep-diving into the conscious, trying to find calm in the craziness of everyday life, while spiritually trying to make sense of what a self is.”

“I think we are too quick to form lines around ourselves and say “this is me,” and “this is not me,” but identity is much more entangled and interwoven, and we have many selves, which is why I speak about the self as a plurality,” Steyn told artnet News.

In late 2019 Steyn will be collaborating with Lezanne Viviers, fashion designer and founder of VIVIERS to present OR/BITING AURABOROS, a performative installation as part of VIVIER’s SS2020 showcase of her latest collection. She will be included in a three person exhibition, alongside Jeanne Gaigher and Kresiah Mukwazhi, at OSART Gallery in Milan, Italy. Steyn will also be featured at Luxembourg Art Week in Luxembourg as part of Galerie DYS’ presentation. In 2020 Steyn will be taking part in an upcoming residency at Sundaymorning@ekwc in Oisterwijk, Netherlands.

Most recently, Steyn’s solo exhibition, Unbuttoning my belly, at Lychee One in London. Earlier solo exhibitions, include: How Cannibals Cuddle at Cabin Gallery i...

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SMAC Gallery

SMAC gallery was established in 2007 in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Since it’s inception, SMAC has focused on presenting the work of emerging and mid-career South African artists, as well as established international artists.

The gallery expanded to its current flagship space in Woodstock, Cape Town, in 2014 and opened a third space in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016. In addition to its contemporary programme, the gallery regularly presents large-scale historical exhibitions and projects that offer a critical re-evaluation of South African art history within a global dialogue.

The gallery’s art fair participation includes The Armory Show, artmonte-carlo, Artissima, Art Brussels and Miart.

1st Floor, The Palms
145 Sir Lowry Road
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1st Floor, The Trumpet
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T: +27 (0)10 594 5400

1st Floor, De Wet Centre
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T: +27 (0)21 887 3607

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Curated by SMAC Gallery

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