In his sculpture, Evan Penny combines direct observation with photography and digital 3D modeling to create works that are marked by their faultless realism. Using predominantly silicone, he models each facet of the human with acute attention to detail, taking care to avoid illusion and idealism by presenting the figure as reduced, enlarged, stretched or flattened. The resulting piece is therefore extraordinarily realistic in its detail, but absurd in its conception as a whole.
“Whereas for many artists, specificity means distilling and simplifying details, for me specificity involves elaboration, adding more and more,” he notes. “There is always a prolonged process of observation with the model, gathering more and more information. I avoid idealising the subject, but rather come back to nature if you will, and ask ‘what else is there’?”
Initially Penny sculpted from the direct observation of models, but he has increasingly turned to his imagination for source material and inspiration. This has enabled him to capture added detail from the world outside the studio, lending each sculpture a new hyperrealism and empowering his work with the potential to examine the distortion of a person’s visual identity in an image-saturated world.
My work is way to ask: ‘How do we understand ourselves? What is real and what is not?’ One reality is how we live and move in real time and space; how we experience our bodies, how we experience each other in conversation. On the other hand, there is the reality of the image space, how do we imagine ourselves in and through the image. My practice works with the space between.”
Evan Penny (b.1953) graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design and went on to complete a postgraduate degree in sculpture. Recent shows include Evan Penny RE FIGURED which traveled to Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada and MARCA, Catanzaro, Italy in 2012. His work features in numerous collections including the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, The National Gallery of Canada and Hudson Valley Centre of Contemporary Art. He lives and works in Toronto.