Kablusiak wins 2023 Sobey Art Award $100,000 grand prize

Canada’s preeminent contemporary arts award recognizes artist for practice that confounds old categories and points to new imaginaries

OTTAWA, ON, Nov. 18, 2023 /CNW/ – Kablusiak is the grand winner of the $100,000 2023 Sobey Art Award, Canada’s preeminent prize for contemporary visual arts. The announcement was made this evening by 2022 Sobey Art Award winner Divya Mehra during a special celebration at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC), which was broadcast live online across the country. The remaining shortlisted artists — Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, Michèle Pearson Clark, Anahita Norouzi, Séamus Gallagher — will each receive $25,000.

The Sobey Art Award recognizes Canadian visual artists at a critical juncture in their careers and whose work reflects upon and speaks of our contemporary moment nationally and globally. Kablusiak is 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.

"On behalf of the Board of the Sobey Art Foundation, our warmest congratulations to Kablusiak, the winner of the 2023 Sobey Art Award," said Bernard Doucet, Executive Director, Sobey Art Foundation (SAF). "Congratulations as well to the four finalists and each of the Canadian artists longlisted for this edition of the award. The diverse perspectives and creativity demonstrated in the artistic practices of these artists are extraordinary. It has been with great pride that we’ve worked to connect them with audiences and other cultural producers across the country and beyond."

"The 2023 Sobey Art Award jury felt compelled by Kablusiak’s fearless and unapologetic practice that confounds old categories and art histories and points to new imaginaries. Their multidisciplinary vocabulary deploys the experience of being looked at without being seen that shapes Inuit and queer realities in both the art world and society at large. Their attention to materiality and embodiment, along with a critical use of humour, are world-building and -affirming. The jury welcomes the provocations that Kablusiak’s work introduces into prevailing languages of contemporary art," said Jonathan Shaughnessy, NGC’s Director, Curatorial Initiatives, and Chair of the 2023 Sobey Award Jury.

"Winning this award is a dream, and being among amazing peers makes this award especially special. The support given by the Sobey Art Foundation and the National Gallery of Canada is substantial, and is provided with such care. This opportunity allows so many doors to open and I am grateful for every moment," said Kablusiak, winner of the 2023 Sobey Art Award.

Kablusiak was selected as the winner of the 2023 Sobey Art Award by an independent jury of esteemed Canadian curators from coast to coast to coast and an international juror. They reviewed all nominations and established the long and short lists as well as the winner based on the artists’ respective careers to date.

The 2023 Sobey Art Award jury, from West to East:

  • Matthew Hyland, Executive Director, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (West Coast & Yukon);
  • Haema Sivanesan, Director, Leighton Studios and Program Partnerships, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Banff (Prairies and the North);
  • Wanda Nanibush, Curator, Indigenous Art, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (Ontario);
  • Eve-Lyne Beaudry, Curator, Contemporary Art, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Québec (Quebec);
  • Pamela Edmonds, Director and Curator, Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax (Atlantic); and
  • Cecilia Alemani, Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director and Chief Curator of High Line Art, New York City, and Curator of the 59th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale 2022 (New York).

Powerful works by all of the 2023 Sobey Art Award finalists are currently on view at the Gallery. Organized by the NGC and the SAF, the 2023 Sobey Art Award Exhibition runs until March 3, 2024.

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 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 Akhavan (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 by the late Frank H. Sobey, who was a dedicated collector of Canadian art. The Sobey Art Award was founded in 2002 as privately funded prizes for Canadian contemporary visual artists. The award aims to promote new developments in contemporary visual art and attract 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/.

SOURCE National Gallery of Canada

Featured image: Megapixl © Fergregory