Evan Penny - Re Figured
Object and image, true and false, natural and artificial, credible and incredible – Evan Penny’s figures are all of the above. An exhibition-portrait on the occasion of the show at Museum der Moderne in Salzburg.
He generates an unreal and uncanny world, where it is hard to distinguish what is real and what unreal. He dissolves the connection to reality and by avoiding producing an angle from where a stable image is visible; he shows his vision of a self that is in constant transformation. His enlarged visions of the individual, or at least of its morphology, allow observing the basic principles of existence – or not.
The details of the figures that define their humanity are not only visible in their dimension, their size, but especially in the treatment of surface, colour, wrinkles, blood vessels, stains and other imperfections. This topographic journey through the landscape of the human body is a study of our existence and establishes a conscience of our anatomy.
The real figures that are life-sized are always around us, our gaze is used to perceiving everything in certain dimensions and in certain ways; when something looks familiar one is less attentive and in a sense loses the perspective on ourselves and the surrounding reality.
His works do not aim fort he easy, legible visual perception but expand into the complex worlds of our own interpretations – sculptures who feel like photographs when looked at. Penny strives for a depiction that refers to the totally artificial as well as the intensively realistic – in a virtual world that is ruled by photoshop and digital images.
The point of departure for the three-dimensional objects is photography. The mediatic visual experience that is determining for our contemporary culture is transposed into the material substance; Penny reflects on the dominance of the image. However, the temporal dimension of the photograph, the illustration of a determined moment in time lets the viewer expect the object to be in motion.
Like a photograph, the sculptures show a segment of reality, at times they are cut off as happens with a photograph. Reality is perceived from the perspective of a photograph, but his work is not an effigy of reality – and even though his sculptures show apparent perfection, some details are deliberately exaggerated and distorted.
Evan Penny produces unfamiliar proportions, capturing the intensity of the emotions related to the human body. Penny needs the closeness, the intimacy with the figures he depicts. He considers the smallest details of their features and their expressions, the figures enter into an immediate relationship with the viewer who senses a hint of life in these faces.
Re Figured, organised in cooperation with Kunsthalle Tübingen ist he largest overview of Evan Penny work to date and at the same time his first single exhibition in Europe. On show there are 40 exhibits on loan from 22 international lenders. After Tübingen and Salzburg, the exhibition will be shown in the Museo delle Arti in Catanzaro, Italy and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Penny’s hometown Toronto. (written by Cem Angeli)