Lot #63

Evan Penny
L. Faux

plaster sculpture, mounted on a wood frame
accompanied by a clay maquette of “L. Faux” (measuring 17 ins x 15 ins x 3 ins overall) as well as a C-print on archive paper, signed, titled “L. Faux”, dated 2001 and inscribed AP #1 on the reverse (paper measures 10 ins x 8 ins overall)
43 x 36 x 12 ins ( 109.2 x 91.4 x 30.5 cms )

Provenance:
Libby Faux, Toronto
By descent to the current Private Collection, Toronto
Literature:
Nancy Tousley, “Absolutely Unreal: The Sculpture and Photography of Evan Penny,” Evan Penny: Absolutely Unreal, Museum London, Ontario, 2004, pages 49-51
Daniel J. Schreiber, “L. Faux”, Evan Penny, Re Figured, Koln, Germany, 2011, page 49, page 161, cat. nos. 5-9 for versions of L. Faux
Gary Michael Dault, “Human, all too human,” Globe and Mail, November 3, 2001, page V2
Nancy Tousley, “A New Perspective,” Calgary Herald, January 26, 2002, page ES8
Born in South Africa, Evan Penny moved with his family to Canada at the age of 10. He attended the Alberta College of Art where he studied sculpture, graduating in 1975. Moving to Toronto in 1980, Nancy Tousley notes that “the critical climate of Toronto forced Penny to take stock of what he was doing... and it took him some time to feel settled.” A decade later, Penny was invited to work with FX Smith, “making prosthetics, body doubles, animals and fantasy creatures” for a variety of films. Undoubtedly, this experience with creating uncanny forms would influence the unique body of work which was to come.

In “Evan Penny, Re Figured”, curator Daniel Schreiber writes that the artist's monumental “L. Faux” series (2000-2005) was “guided by the operative principle of transgressing the boundaries between media-communicated and natural perception. The project was inspired by portraits by Thomas Ruff and Stefan Hablutzel that Penny had encountered in a single exhibition.” The series investigates the manipulation of space between the real and the replica, with the model, Libby Faux, as the artist's muse. Her surname Faux – pronounced “fox” - is an unintentional yet appropriate name for the central subject of Penny's “searches into the nature of reality observed and artifice achieved.” The “Libby project” took three years with Libby Faux spending close to 400 hours as the artist's model. Penny notes that through such a drawn out method, “the uncanny is 'unavoidable'” and is a byproduct of 'the intense observational process.'” Through prolonged examination,“in the pursuit of a subject's reality... that reality inevitably slips away under your hands.” The series plays with the ambiguities of identity and medium, and through scale and detail, successfully invokes sensations of the uncanny.

This work, a production plaster from Libby Faux's collection, reveals an integral part of Penny's meticulous process. An impressive, wall-mounted sculpture executed in what Penny calls “a forced perspective,” it reminds the viewer of an intricate face mask. Tousley notes that Penny “...emphasized the bust's frontality while radically compressing the volume of the head. From the cheekbones to just behind the ear, the lateral depth is reduced by more than half.” Executed in high relief, “L. Faux” reminds us of the white marble portrait busts of Roman nobility.

This lot also includes a clay maquette of “L. Faux” as well as an artist’s proof C-Print of “L. Faux” (2001). Tousley comments on the artist's process of “[making] a colour photograph of each of the Libbys...returning the image to photography where it goes yet through another transformation and looks even more 'real'. He counts on our minds constantly readjusting, filling in what we know should be there, thus aiding and abetting the conundrum that the sculptures represent.” Versions of “L. Faux” can be found in the collections of the Glenbow Museum, Calgary, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, among others.

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Evan Penny
(1953)