Five Canadian Artists Shortlisted for Canada’s Preeminent Contemporary Visual Arts Award

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OTTAWA, Monday, June 12, 2023The five shortlisted artists for the 2023 Sobey Art Award, Canada's preeminent prize for contemporary visual artists, were announced today by the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) and the Sobey Art Foundation (SAF). Works by the five finalists will be on view at the Gallery from October 13, 2023 until March 3, 2024. The winner will be announced in November. Artist Divya Mehra won the $100,000 Sobey prize in 2022.

The 2023 Sobey Art Award finalists, from East to West are:

Séamus Gallagher (Atlantic), a lens-based artist, infusing queer aesthetics with self-portraiture, video game engines, and set construction. The artist explores the limits of representation, and failure as a form of liberation. Gallagher is from Moncton, New Brunswick and is currently living in Kjipuktuk/Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Anahita Norouzi (Québec), a research-driven multidisciplinary artist whose practice is articulated through a wide range of materials and mediums including sculpture, installation, photography and video. Her work is impelled by marginalized histories, and the legacies of botanical explorations and archaeological excavations, Norouzi is originally from Tehran, Iran and has worked in Montréal since 2018.

Michèle Pearson Clarke (Ontario), an artist and educator working in photography, video and installation. Clarke’s work positions grief as a site of possibility for social engagement and political connection, with a particular focus on Black and queer experiences of longing and loss. Clarke was born in Trinidad and is currently based in Toronto, Ontario.

Kablusiak (Prairies and the North), a multidisciplinary Inuvialuk artist and curator who uses Inuk ingenuity to create work in a variety of mediums, including lingerie, white flour, soapstone, felt, acrylic paint, and words. The artist’s work explores dis/connections and family and community ties within the Inuit diaspora, as well as the impact of colonization on Inuit expressions of gender and sexuality, on health and wellbeing, and on daily life. Kablusiak was born in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, and they are currently based in Calgary, Alberta.

Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill (West Coast & Yukon), a Métis artist and writer. Her sculptural practice explores the history of found materials, enquiring into concepts of land, property and economy. Hill was born in Comox, British Columbia and currently lives on the unceded territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples/Vancouver, British Columbia.

“Congratulations to each of the five artists shortlisted for this edition of the Award. Year after year, we are amazed at the standards of excellence produced by contemporary artists from across the country. We strive to provide an experience and recognition that supports these artists in the way that is most meaningful to them, allowing them to focus their energy on their art. We look forward to seeing their work in the exhibition at the Gallery next fall,” said Bernard Doucet, the Sobey Art Foundation’s Executive Director. “I would also like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to the 2023 Sobey Art Award Jury for their leadership and hard work.”

“The National Gallery of Canada is very proud to celebrate the 2023 Sobey Art Award finalists. The breadth of practices this year represents the multifaceted texture and strength of contemporary artistic talent in this country,” said Jonathan Shaughnessy, NGC’s Director, Curatorial Initiatives and Chair of the 2023 Sobey Award Jury. “From the longlist to the short each of this year’s artists are deserving national and international recognition. The work of the five finalists present views on many urgent matters of our time, including 2SLGBTQ+ solidarities and representation, as well as critical questions regarding diasporic experience and Canadian identity. We all stand to gain from their perspectives that are propelled through a lens attuned to creativity, aesthetics and innovation. The Gallery is profoundly grateful for the generous contributions of the SAF, and to this year’s jury, whose support propels the careers of these exceptional artists.”

2022 Sobey Award Award winner, Divya Mehra

In announcing the 2023 Shortlist, the NGC and the SAF would also like to recognize Divya Mehra (Prairies and North), winner of the 2022 Award. The timeliness of Mehra’s work and its sophisticated address of issues of cultural authority and representation embody how contemporary artists can serve as thought leaders in today’s world. This vision for art is one close to the heart of the SAA’s values which are brought forward in the dynamic and pertinent artistic practices exemplified in this year’s shortlist.

2023 Sobey Art Award Jury

An independent jury consisting of curators from each of the five regions, as well as an international juror, oversaw the longlist selection process and deliberations to select this shortlist. The members of the 2023 Sobey Art Award jury from East to West are: Pamela Edmonds, Director and Curator, Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax (Atlantic); Eve-Lyne Beaudry, Curator, Contemporary Art, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Québec (Quebec); Wanda Nanibush, Curator, Indigenous Art, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (Ontario); Haema Sivanesan, Director, Leighton Studios and Program Partnerships, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Banff (Prairies and the North); Matthew Hyland, Executive Director, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (West Coast & Yukon); Cecilia Alemani, Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director & Chief Curator of High Line Art, New York, and Curator of the 59th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale 2022 (International).


For more information, please visit: https://www.gallery.ca/whats-on/sobey-art-award



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Megan Leahy

Josée-Britanie Mallet
Senior Officer, Media and Public Relations
National Gallery of Canada



About the Sobey Art Award

The Sobey Art Award (SAA) is Canada’s preeminent prize for Canadian contemporary visual artists. Created in 2002 with funding from the Sobey Art Foundation (SAF), the SAA has helped to propel the careers of artists through financial support and recognition in Canada and beyond. The SAA has been jointly administered by the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) and SAF since 2016.

The winner receives $100,000, each of the remaining four shortlisted artists receive $25,000, and each of the remaining twenty longlisted artists receive $10,000. In addition to financial support, select works by the five shortlisted artists are presented in a special exhibition at National Gallery of Canada in the fall.      

Past winners of the Sobey Art Award are: Brian Jungen (2002), Jean-Pierre Gauthier (2004), Annie Pootoogook (2006), Michel de Broin (2007), Tim Lee (2008), David Altmejd (2009), Daniel Barrow (2010), Daniel Young and Christian Giroux (2011), Raphaëlle de Groot (2012), Duane Linklater (2013), Nadia Myre (2014), Abbas Akhaven (2015), Jeremy Shaw (2016), Ursula Johnson (2017), Kapwani Kiwanga (2018), Stephanie Comilang (2019), Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory (2021), and Divya Mehra (2022).

About the Sobey Art Foundation

The Sobey Art Foundation was established in 1981 with the mandate to carry on the work of entrepreneur and business leader, the late Frank H. Sobey, who was a dedicated collector of Canadian art. The Sobey Art Award was founded in 2002 and is recognized as one of the world’s most generous, privately funded prizes for contemporary visual artists. The award is open to Canadian contemporary artists and aims to promote new developments in contemporary art and attracts national and international attention to Canadian artists.

About the National Gallery of Canada
Ankosé / Everything is Connected / Tout est relié

The National Gallery of Canada (NGC) is dedicated to amplifying voices through art and extending the reach and breadth of its collection, exhibitions program, and public activities to represent all Canadians, while centring Indigenous ways of knowing and being. Ankosé—an Anishinaabemowin word that means “everything is connected”—reflects the Gallery’s mission to create dynamic experiences that open hearts and minds, and allow for new ways of seeing ourselves, one another, and our diverse histories, through the visual arts. NGC is home to a rich contemporary Indigenous international art collection, as well as important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian and European art from the 14th to the 21st century. Founded in 1880, NGC has played a key role in Canadian culture for more than 140 years. For more information, visit gallery.ca.