Tanta DeStaffany Pennington
Contemporary Artist



Transformation of found domestic and industrial objects into intimate paintings

'Emotionally driven' series at XChanges Gallery in Victoria, B.C.

‘Emotionally driven’ series by Tanta Pennington at XChanges Gallery in Victoria, B.C.

As a studio member of Xchanges Gallery in Victoria, I had the pleasure of seeing painted canvas relief structures by local artist Tanta Pennington in our exhibition room every day for the month of March. Depending on my mood, I could suddenly relate to ‘Hope’ whereas an hour before ‘Compassion’ was talking to me. One morning I found myself only drawn to the black paintings whereas the evening before the white structures appealed to me. How does the artist explain this interaction between her art and the observer?

Tanta: I think most people are surprised. They are surprised that the pieces are small, surprised that they are one colour and surprised that pure abstract shapes can start an internal dialogue of questions.

'Surprise' by Tanta Pennington

‘Surprise’ by Tanta Pennington

Can you tell us more about your series ‘Emotionally driven’?

Tanta: The series was initiated through the gathering of ordinary objects. By transforming found domestic and industrial objects into intimate paintings and only using the colours, white, grey or black, I have discovered a new form of self-expression.

You have been working on the series for the last three years, making almost forty pieces.

Tanta: Each one has started with a 10 in. x 8 in. canvas support. As I attach found objects I start to think about composition, textures and how I can weave them all together. The covering process is very peaceful and tactical. Sometimes I dip, then pour, but usually I scoop handfuls of paint and lay it slowly and carefully on the surface. Depending on the layers of paint each piece can take up to several months to dry.

The large piece Genesis is a combination of all the paintings, I would add onto it as I made the small ones, so even though it was the last one finished it was really the beginning.

'Hope' by Tanta Pennington

‘Hope’ by Tanta Pennington

Your pieces are titled e.g. ‘lust’, ‘compassion’, ‘envy’, ‘hope’, ‘surprise’, ‘regret’. Do they epitomize your very personal emotion at the time of their creation?

Tanta: After each piece was finished I would spend time observing it, looking at the shadows, how the paint would sit on the surface, and how everything had amalgamated. Then I would wait for the emotion to surface. Only then would I name the piece and write the Haiku.

What materials do you use?

Tanta: My painted canvas relief structures are made out of wire, wool, and screws, combined with objects made from metal, wood, and plastic. I like to amalgamate found materials and handmade objects with traditional methods of execution such as painting and drawing to create modern, innovative pieces.

Do you ever work on many pieces at the same time?

Tanta: Yes, I do! I tend to go back and forth between making sculptures, installations, wall works, paintings and drawings. And I am comfortable working in either a small or large scale.

What makes you tick as an artist?

Tanta: I have a restless and fertile imagination. Shapes, colours, and bits of conversations are constantly seducing me. It just happens. Sometimes I envy friends that can just walk down the road and only see the road.

What or who inspires you?

Tanta: Opulent shop windows, hardware stores, construction sites, shadows and back alleys.

If you could have a conversation with one of the following artists, who would you choose? Constantin Brancusi, Auguste Rodin, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Victor Vasarely or M.C. Escher?

Tanta: I would invite Auguste Rodin and M.C. Escher to late dinner at Chez Denise in Les Halles, Paris. I would let the vin rouge flow and just listen to them talk as the waiters danced their ballet around us.

Tanta, thank you for sharing your thoughts with my audience.


Tanta DeStaffany Pennington is based in Victoria, Canada and is a Fine Arts Diplomaand Independent Studio Program graduate from the Vancouver Island School of Art. Tanta has exhibited work at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria International Airport, The Victoria Conference Centre, and local galleries. Tanta participated in the International 2011 Florence Biennale. Her work is in collections in Western Canada, Hawaii, California, and Italy.

XChanges Gallery Victoria BC
Gallery Hours 2:00-4:00 Saturday & Sunday
This exhibition runs through to Sunday, March 30 th, 2014