Kapwani Kiwanga, representing the Ontario region, is the winner of the 2018 Sobey Art Award, confirming her position as a rising star in the Canadian contemporary art scene. The award was announced at the annual Sobey Art Award gala held Wednesday evening at the National Gallery of Canada. Upon receiving the award from Ursula Johnson, last year’s winner, Kapwani Kiwanga said:
“The Sobey Art Award is a humbling encouragement to continue to make work that asks us to look anew at society and its past while allowing us to imagine unbounded possibilities. The award affords me the opportunity to create conditions which will allow me to focus more intently on my work and push it further in the years to come. I am honoured to be included amongst this group of talented artists whose strong voices remind us of art's potential to both move and challenge. I am thankful to all those who have believed, encouraged, supported, called into question, trusted, taken issue, pushed, shared, disputed, and cared.”
Kapwani Kiwanga is the fifteenth Canadian artist under 40 to win the distinguished annual award, which is valued this year at Can$100,000. The four other finalists: Jordan Bennett, representing the Atlantic region; Jon Rafman, from Québec; Joi T. Arcand, representing the Prairies and the North and Jeneen Frei Njootli from the West Coast and Yukon; each take home Can$25,000. The 2018 Sobey Art Award Jury was impressed with Kapwani Kiwanga’s critically engaged and visually compelling work.
“The jury noted how Kapwani Kiwanga creates a visual language to reconsider complexities and peripheries of history. She points to fissures in our human narrative. Using archival materials and referencing anthropology, agriculture, and urban design, among other sources; she reveals global effects of the colonial project. In so doing, she addresses hidden authoritarian structures, institutional devices, and power imbalances to help us see the world differently.”
The members of the 2018 Sobey Art Award jury, chaired by Josée Drouin-Brisebois, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada, are Heather Igloliorte, Independent Curator and Concordia University Research Chair in Indigenous Art History and Community Engagement, for the Atlantic Provinces; Jean-François Bélisle, Executive Director and Chief Curator, Musée d’art de Joliette, for the Quebec region; November Paynter, Director of Programs, Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto Canada, for the Ontario region; Kristy Trinier, Executive Director, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, for the Prairies and the North region; Melanie O’Brian, Director, Simon Fraser University Galleries, for the West Coast and Yukon; and international juror, Séamus Kealy, Director, Salzburger Kunstverein.
The Sobey Art Award aims to promote new developments in contemporary Canadian art and provide much needed financial support for artists as they grow their practice and develop their international network.
This year, a total of Can$240,000 in prize money was awarded: the $100,000 for the overall winner, the $25,000 given to each of the four shortlisted artists, as well as $2,000 was awarded to each of the remaining twenty longlisted artists. In addition to the cash awards, three nominees from the longlist will take part in the Sobey Art Award Residencies Program — international art residencies funded by the Sobey Art Foundation.
Rob Sobey, Chairman of the Sobey Art Foundation, congratulated the 2018 winner on behalf of the Foundation at the gala event: “We are delighted to welcome Kapwani Kiwanga into the alumni of Sobey Art Award winners,” he said. “This has been another amazing exhibition and I’d like to thank all of the five shortlisted artists for their hard work and commitment to this process and especially to this exhibition.”
The first Sobey Art Award was presented in 2002 and awarded biennially until 2006, after which it became an annual award. The prize has had an undeniable impact on the careers of young Canadian contemporary artists including 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) and Ursula Johnson (2017).
On Thursday, November 15 at 6 pm, Kapwani Kiwanga, joins Mary Lynk, award-winning journalist and producer for CBC radio’s IDEAS program, for an on-stage conversation. The event is in English with simultaneous French interpretation and admission is free. For more information please visit Sobey Art Award lectures and Talks on the Gallery’s website.
The 2018 Sobey Art Award exhibition showcasing the work of all five shortlisted artists is on view at the National Gallery of Canada until February 10, 2019.
— 30 —
For all Canadian media enquiries, please contact:
Manager Media Relations
National Gallery of Canada
Sobey Art Foundation
902.752.8371, ext. 2301
For all international media enquiries, please contact:
+44 771 935 7114