Icarus, 2002

8ft h x15ft w, 2 screen printed photographs on canvas, painted with white bees wax. In the collection of Department of External Affairs, placed in a Canadian Government Building in Ottawa.

Icarus features two screen printed photographs of the Corinthian capital from the former Ontario Historical Society Building at 205 Yonge Street Toronto. Built in 1905 by E.J.Lennox and is an example of neo-classical architecture as the Bank of Toronto.

Excerpt from “but, am I speaking the language? By Rebecca Diederichs

Heritage/history/legacy/legitimacy – what could be more permanent and solid in representing these values than a classical column, especially one with a Corinthian Capital? Such a column graces the face of a building once housing the Historical Board located on Yonge Street, Toronto. It was exactly the embodiment of those attributes that the architects and tenants of that building intended when they constructed it at the turn of the last century. Now, recall the myth of the young man so sure his strength and power that he could challenge the power of the sun and fly to it on wings attached with wax. Penelope Stewart’s Icarus is made up of two massive, composite images of a Corinthian capital, printed onto gessoed canvas. On the left the image is printed as a positive, on the right as a negative. These printed panels (each approx. 30” x 30”) fill one wall of the gallery like giant tiles; just barely concealing the blood-red colour of the wall on which they’re mounted. Although graphically austere, printed in the blacks and greys of a photograph, the capitals appear unstable, shivering behind a veil of bleached, seemingly viscous, beeswax. Icarus (the artwork) is a political still life that portrays the grand allusion of power not very far removed from Icarus’s narcissistic feat of folly.