Sperone Westwater is pleased to announce an exhibition of new sculpture by Evan Penny. This is the artist’s first major one-man show in New York.
Interested in the terrain between the “real” and the “replica”, Penny makes twice-life sized or larger renderings of human heads and bodies out of silicone, pigment, hair, and aluminum, magnifying the details and subtleties of the human skin. To stand in front of one of Penny’s sculptures is to be amazed and unsettled by the lifelike human form staring back at you and the artist’s innovative process that pushes the boundaries of representation between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional.
At a time when very few artists have found a way to make figurative sculpture and remain contemporary, Penny has created a radically new vision of figuration and sculptural practice set against the backdrop of photography. Recently, he has been incorporating what might be seen as the mistakes of digital photography—double exposure, depth of field, blurring, achromaticism—into a vocabulary of sculptural realism that results in visual distortion in three-dimensions. He says, “My interest is to situate the sculptures perceptually between the way we might see each other in real time and space and the way we imagine our equivalent in a photographic representation. The intention is that the work be seen in a context where the sculptural and photographic images, mirroring each other, subtly shift, confound, and inform anticipated readings.” The results are human forms that are stretched, blurred, and manipulated in space while maintaining their meticulous detailing and sculptural veracity.
Several of the sculptures included in the exhibition are entitled “No One – In Particular” and numbered, indicating that while these hyperrealist sculptures appear to be near facsimiles of real people, they are instead imaginary portraits. As believable images of people who do not exist, these works undermine the factual ground of the photographic portrait and emphasize the mutability of identity and the body.
Born in South Africa in 1953, Penny currently lives and works in Toronto, Canada. Since his first solo exhibition in 1981, Penny’s work has been exhibited throughout Canada and abroad. A major survey of the artist’s work, “Absolutely Unreal,” traveled to several different venues in Canada during 2004 and 2005, including Museum London, London, Ontario, the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and the Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta. Most recently, Penny was included in a group sculpture exhibition, “Figure it Out”, on view at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art this past spring.
A catalogue with full color reproductions and an essay by David Moos, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, will accompany the exhibition.