“If there is anything I could hope one might experience in front of the work, it’s a moment of self-awareness a self-consciousness of one’s own physical experience, how one experiences oneself in space.” 2011
Over the course of his internationally acclaimed career, Toronto-based Canadian sculptor Evan Penny’s work has been grappling with the human form and its relationship to art history.
Penny was born in South Africa in 1953 and immigrated in 1964. In 1975 he graduated from the Alberta College of Art, Calgary with an Honours Fine Art Diploma. Two years later he returned to the Alberta College of Art and completed Post-Graduate studies in sculpture. From his earliest sculptural busts in the 1970s through to his first nude sculptures in the early 1980s Penny has devoted himself to a consideration of how concepts of sculptural realism have been influenced by classicism, romanticism, and, most importantly for the artist, by the advent of traditional and digital photography.
In 1983 Penny exhibited the life-like sculpture Ali, a smaller than life-size standing female nude. As Penny recalls the experience “There was no safe position, and I realized that I was working in territory that I did not completely understand. “ The response to Ali had Penny turn from the figure towards other subject matter. Concurrently he began working in the film industry creating prosthetics and special make up effects, working with such notable directors as David Cronenberg, Oliver Stone, John Woo and Sidney Lumet.
Two key events had Penny return to the studio to work on the figure; experiencing the sculptural work of artist Ron Mueck, and seeing an exhibition in Barcelona entitled Artificial Contemporary Representation.
In Jim Revisited (2011), Penny revisits a previous subject, Jim, an acquaintance of the artist. For Jim Revisited Penny used three-dimensional scanning technology to scan the earlier Jim, 1985 sculpture which he then resized and manipulated in order to create the basis for his new clay mould.
He has taught at the Toronto School of Art, The Ontario College of Art, and at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago as well as at his Alma Mater the Alberta College of Art.