The 2020 Sobey Art Award Celebrates its Longlist Artists And Responds to the Covid-19 Pandemic


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OTTAWA, April 15, 2020 - The Sobey Art Foundation and the National Gallery of Canada announce changes to the Sobey Art Award program for 2020 due to the Covid-19 global pandemic.

For the 2020 program year, the Sobey Art Award will dispense with the selection of a five artist shortlist, the annual shortlist exhibition, the final winner announcement gala and the International Residencies Program. Instead, each of the 25 exceptional Canadian artists on the jury-selected 2020 longlist will be awarded $25,000 (CAD).

“We are so proud to be able to celebrate the work of these 25 talented artists,” said Rob Sobey, Chair of the Sobey Art Foundation. “These extraordinary, historic, and challenging circumstances will have a profound impact on the livelihoods and practices of artists across Canada and around the world. As we all adjust to the changes in our every-day lives, we recognize how artists and their art can bring us together. Our sincere wish is that this year’s longlist artists will utilize this additional support to continue to do so,” he added.

The Sobey Art Award is committed to returning to the juried annual award and the international residencies program as soon as public health guidelines permit.

“The Sobey Art Award exists to celebrate and advocate for Canadian contemporary visual artists at home and around the world. By altering this year’s program, the 2020 Sobey Art Award is contributing to the short and long-term preservation of Canada’s contemporary art ecosystem in the face of the unknown. I applaud the Sobey Art Foundation, the Jury, and the National Gallery of Canada team for their responsiveness and leadership, and congratulate all of the 2020 longlist winners.” said Dr. Sasha Suda, Director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada.

After careful consideration of the more than 100 nominations received, the curatorial jury selected the 2020 Sobey Art Award longlist of 25 artists:

Michele Di Menna
Tsēmā Igharas
Carmen Papalia
Joseph Tisiga
Zadie Xa

Jason de Haan
Luther Konadu
Amy Malbeuf
Freya Björg Olafson

Sara Cwynar
Georgia Dickie
Jagdeep Raina
Catherine Telford Keogh

Adam Basanta
Moridja Kitenge
Banza Manuel
Caroline Monnet
Sabrina Ratté

Jordan Bennett
Melanie Colosimo
Graeme Patterson
Lou Sheppard
D'Arcy Wilson

Jury statement:

“Selected from one of the longest nomination lists to date, the 2020 Sobey Art Award’s 25 winners reflect the remarkable richness and range of contemporary art practices across Canada. Distinctly dynamic, resonant, and compelling, these artists’ works bring to view meaningful approaches to their materials and gestures. They create new relationships and vocabularies that value specificity with regard to personal, geographic, cultural, or socio-historical perspectives, yet open themselves onto broader forms of connection.

In this unprecedented moment, we welcomed the award committee’s decision to reconceive the award process so as to champion and support the practices of 25 artists. Selecting among so many candidates of exceptional quality was no simple task, but in working through an array of considerations, our conversations led us to recognize artists at different moments in their careers whose works we feel invigorate, innovate, and reframe wide-spanning areas of practice and discourse.”

The 2020 Sobey Art Award jury is composed of Matthew Hills, Director/Curator, Grenfell Art Gallery, for the Atlantic region; Mary-Dailey Desmarais, Ph.D., Curator of International Modern and Contemporary Art, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, for the Quebec region; Frances Loeffler, Curator, Oakville Galleries, for the Ontario region; Jaimie Isaac, Curator, Indigenous and Contemporary Art, Winnipeg Art Gallery, for the Prairies and North region; Henry Heng Lu, Curator, Centre A: Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, for the West Coast and Yukon; and international juror, Carly Whitefield, Assistant Curator, International Art (Film) at Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom.

“I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the members of this year’s jury for their collegiality and openness,” said Josée Drouin-Brisebois, Chair of the 2020 Sobey Art Award jury. “It was a pleasure to engage with everyone and I thank the jury, as well as the nominators, for their dedication in bringing to light the practices of these deserving artists."

We invite you to watch a brief video by Dr. Suda explaining the changes to the 2020 Sobey Art Award program in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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For media enquiries, please contact:

Sobey Art Foundation
Bernard Doucet
T + 1.902.752 8371 ext. 2301
C + 1.902.921.1755

National Gallery of Canada
Geneviève Ménard | 
Josée-Britanie Mallet |


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