Evan Penny

Born in South Africa, 1953.
Lives and works in Toronto

In 1985 I created a sculpture for which my friend “Jim” acted as the model; Jim Revisited is based on that work. The early Jim sculpture, modeled in clay from direct observation, involved a prolonged inquiry into the appearances of Jim the person. The current work might best be understood as a conversation with that early sculpture and a meditation on the shifting terms of my artistic engagement over the intervening 25 years.

Both works are implicitly linked to the long history of figurative sculpture. However, a central question in my practice has always been related to finding ways to work with this traditional form but to situate it squarely in present. The early work sought to do this by prioritizing direct observation and the intimate relationship to the living model.

In 2007 I began exploring the potential of 3D imaging (laser scanning and photo capture) and associated 3D reproduction technologies (computer numerical control milling, rapid prototyping). While my work to this point had been totally hand built, it was progressively implying an engagement with digital imaging technologies. So it was not a large step to ask, “What will happen if I literally engage these technologies? Jim Revisited is one of the outcomes of that enquiry.

The sculpture is also a reflection of our media-saturated environment and our constantly shifting relationship to the technologies that define our creative imagination.

Jim Revisited 2011
silicone, pigment, hair, aluminum
310 × 210 × 100 cm
Purchased 2011
Courtesy Sperone Westwater, New York
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Photo © NGC

Builders: Canadian Biennial 2012 exhibition catalogue
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa