From Cold War spies and objects falling from the sky to snake handlers, displaced persons and distorted music, this fall’s Sobey Art Award exhibition is sure to be a visual, aural and thought-provoking feast for visitors to the National Gallery of Canada.
In a recently published e-book by National Gallery of Canada curator Christine Lalonde, Pitseolak Ashoona’s work is given the comprehensive treatment befitting one of Canada’s most celebrated artists. Published by the Art Canada Institute and available for free download, the beautifully designed Pitseolak Ashoona: Life and Work contains numerous illustrations of Pitseolak’s work from collections across Canada, as well as archival photographs and the work of other artists — including several celebrated members of Pitseolak’s own family.
Nicolaus Schafhausen epitomizes the definition of “international.” Born in Düsseldorf, Germany in 1965, he quickly established himself as an artist before launching a successful career as a global curator. This year, Schafhausen was selected as the very first international juror for the prestigious Sobey Art Award, now administered by the National Gallery of Canada.
The Ptarmigan Vase (1900–03) was acquired by the National Gallery of Canada in 2011 and displayed in its European galleries the following year. It has now returned to its home province, on loan to the Audain Art Museum in Whistler, B.C.
Each year, the Sobey Art Award explores contemporary art practice in Canada, bringing artists greater attention, both at home and on the world stage. This year was no exception. Working in installation, video, sound, painting, sculpture, music, dance and land-based art, the nominees on the 2016 Award shortlist tackle today’s thorny issues — from colonial power to cultural identity, regional development to mass migration, and scientific research to political strife.
Think of a substance, any substance. Chances are that there is a work of art somewhere made with it, or with a similar material. Many artists create with a sense of immediacy, choosing materials appropriate to the project — not necessarily materials that will last. Some artists create complex installations onsite in exhibition spaces that may change, depending on where they are displayed. This can make for excellent art, but often means challenges for conservators. Geoffrey Farmer’s Leaves of Grass is one such work.
The National Gallery is experiencing a kind of renaissance — not the 15th-century kind, but rather the re-birth of its scholarly journal, the National Gallery of Canada Review. The internationally respected periodical is being re-launched this month as an online-only journal. The first issue includes fascinating articles by NGC researchers on diverse subjects, from Peter Paul Rubens’ painting studio and Laurent Amiot’s silver, to Michael Snow’s photo-based work and the archived papers of Fritz Brandtner.
On April 13, 2016, the National Gallery of Canada announced the longlist for the Sobey Art Award. From the conceptual work of artists like Raymond Boisjoly and Derek Sullivan to the perfomance-based work of Meryl McMaster and Lisa Lipton, to artists like Brenda Draney (painting), Jessica Eaton (photography), and Karen Tam (installation) who put a new spin on traditional media, the Sobey Art Award longlist not only serves as something of a who’s who in Canadian contemporary art, but also takes the pulse of current art practices across the country.
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