Museum Exhibition Catalogues, Monographs, Artist's Projects, Curatorial Writings and Essays
"I'm a figurative sculptor, so I belong to a very long historical line. However, right from the beginning, one of my anxieties and questions was, how is it possible to be a contemporary artist and be a physical sculptor at the same time? Especially if the work is highly realistic? There is this relationship to history that is by definition at play in the work, but the weight of that history is also a liability."
The latest sculptures from South African–born, Toronto-based artist Evan Penny (born 1953) are rooted in his longstanding interest in the human body and how viewers perceive their relationship with themselves and others. While Penny has expanded his sculptural repertoire by openly referencing art from other eras, Ask Your Body emphasizes the visceral manner in which viewers experience the works. The sculptures, several of which are monumentally scaled, can be described as meditations on the many conditions of being human: aspiring to be godlike and failing (“Marsyas”); the body subjected to the sacrifices and indignities of life on earth (“Homage to Holbein”); having one’s body regarded as fragmented and dislocated (“Hanging Torso” and “Self Portrait after Géricault’s Fragments Anatomiques”); and creating empathy through the imagined history of the artist’s life, as represented by a fictional period from the past (“Young Self”) and from the future (“Old Self”).
Canadian artist Evan Penny (born 1953) makes the kind of sculpture that is so realistic, so detailed and so plainly a demonstration of virtuoso ability that it can literally stop people in their tracks. Modeled with tremendous craftsmanship in aluminium, silicone, epoxy resin and pigments, his freestanding nude figures and portrait heads invite the viewer to examine every fleshy imperfection and intimate crevice. The twist in this extreme realism is their anamorphically skewed perspective, so that what appears to be a conventionally dimensioned figure from one angle turns out to be wildly distorted from another. Penny uses electronic image editing and 3D scanning to create these effects, which transform an initial experience of ultra-realism into a vertiginous encounter massively mediated by artifice and technology. This volume surveys Penny's sculptural works of the past three decades.