Sobey Art Award 2023: The Shortlist

Sobey Art Award 2023 logo


Every Fall, the National Gallery of Canada presents the work of five contemporary artists who have been shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award. This year's five finalists are: Kablusiak, Michèle Pearson Clarke, Séamus Gallagher, Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill and Anahita Norouzi. These artists all work in a variety of media, creating innovative works that often use explorations of the self and identity to examine diverse and universal themes that speak to displacement, resilience and memory.

In its 20th edition, the Sobey Art Award is open to Canadian artists and celebrates the best in contemporary art in Canada. Funded by the Sobey Art Foundation and organized by the National Gallery of Canada, the Award features artists from five regions – Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies & the North and West Coast & Yukon – and the finalists are selected from a longlist of 25 nominees. This year's winner will be announced in November. Past winners include Brian Jungen, Annie Pootoogook, David Altmejd and Nadia Myre.

 

Séamus Gallagher (Atlantic)

Séamus Gallagher, A Slippery Place 1, 2019, inkjet print

Séamus Gallagher, A Slippery Place 1, 2019, inkjet print, 101.6 x 152.4 cm. © Seamus Gallagher Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Originally from New Brunswick and now based in Halifax, Séamus Gallagher incorporates self-portraiture and performance in their lens-based and sculptural work. Through their interdisciplinary practice, the artist places identity and plurality at the centre of explorations of gender, drag and the portrayal of self. A recipient of the Scotiabank 2022 New Generation Photography Award, Gallagher's has been presented at venues including the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Portrait Gallery of Canada and the Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig.

 

Anahita Norouzi (Quebec)

Anahita Norouzi, From the Other Side, 2020, 6 life-size glass sculptures of invasive plants in Canada

Anahita Norouzi, From the Other Side, 2020, 6 life-size glass sculptures of invasive plants in Canada, c. 25.4 x 38.1 x 58.4 cm. © Anahita Norouzi Photo: Paul Litherland

Montreal-based Anahita Norouzi is a multidisciplinary artist working in photography, sculpture, video and installations. Her work is rooted in explorations of identity, migration and resilience, mixing historical events with her personal experience of leaving Iran, her home country. Norouzi’s practice combines botanical studies with scientific research that become metaphors for human displacement. Working in a broad variety of materials, she creates lyrical works that express fragility and adaptation. The artist's work has been exhibited at venues including the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Guelph and other venues.

 

Michèle Pearson Clarke (Ontario)

Michèle Pearson Clarke, Glitter Stache, from the series The Animal Seems to Be Moving, 2021. Archival pigment print

Michèle Pearson Clarke, Glitter Stache, from the series The Animal Seems to Be Moving, 2021. Archival pigment print on hemp paper, mounted on aluminum composite panel. © Michèle Pearson Clarke Photo: Courtesy of the artist

In her work, Toronto-based artist Michèle Pearson Clarke explores Black and queer experiences, often alongside investigations into gestures, language and emotions such as grief and solace. Through various mediums, including photography, video and installation, she often collaborates with others to create stories imbued with both vulnerability and defiance. She has exhibited at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Ryerson Image Centre in Toronto and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, among others. Her 2018 video installation Suck Teeth Compositions (After Rashaad Newsome) is currently on view at the National Gallery of Canada.

 

Kablusiak (Prairies & the North)

Kablusiak, Nuyaq I and Nuyaq II, 2021, 1: artist's mother’s hair | hide uppers, artificial sinew + gifted crushed velvet 2: artist's hair | hide uppers, artificial sinew + gifted crushed velve

Kablusiak, Nuyaq I and Nuyaq II, 2021, I: artist's mother’s hair, hide uppers, artificial sinew and gifted crushed velvet II: artist's hair, hide uppers, artificial sinew and gifted crushed velvet, both 13.7 x 8.3 cm. © Kablusiak Photo: Philip Kanwischer/Courtesy of Norberg Hall

Born in Somba K'e (Yellowknife) and now living in Mohkinstsis (Calgary), Kablusiak is an Inuvialuk multimedia artist and curator working in installation, photography, sculpture and drawing. Often incorporating humour, Kablusiak's works reflect upon themes addressing the Inuit diaspora, historical Inuit art, gender and mental health. The artist's work has been shown extensively at galleries across Canada, including the Esker Foundation Project Space in Calgary, the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton and the Carleton University Art Gallery in Ottawa.

 

Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill (West Coast & Yukon)

Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill, Herald, 2021, tobacco-infused crisco oil, oil paint, magazine cutouts, tobacco pendants, electrical tape, and thread on paper, and dowel

Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill, Herald, 2021, tobacco-infused vegetable oil, oil paint, magazine cutouts, tobacco pendants, electrical tape, and thread on paper, and dowel, sizes variable. © Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill Photo: Courtesy of the artist, Unit 17, and COOPER COLE

Living and working on the unceded territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, Métis artist Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill works primarily in sculpture, painting and installation. Using locally found objects and natural materials, she probes themes such as the history of colonization, capitalism and land ownership. Her latest work, M*****, currently on view at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver, explores kinship. She has exhibited extensively, at national and international venues, including at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the 2022 Venice Biennale and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

 

Work by the five shortlisted artists will be featured in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada, on view from October 13, 2023 until March 3, 2024, with the winner announced in November 2023. The Sobey Art Award is funded by the Sobey Art Foundation (SAF) and organized and presented by the National Gallery of Canada (NGC). Share this article and subscribe to our newsletters to stay up-to-date on the latest articles, Gallery exhibitions, news and events, and to learn more about art in Canada.​

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