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News / October 9, 2013

Duane Linklater Wins $50,000 Sobey Art Award

This evening in Halifax, Duane Linklater was announced as the winner of the $50,000 Sobey Art Award.

The artist—who once planted a raspberry garden in the New York gallery as an artwork and is showing a series of neon thunderbirds at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia as part of a Sobey Art Award exhibition—is of Cree heritage and collaborated with Brian Jungen on a work for Documenta 13. (That latter project is to go on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario starting on October 26.)

Linklater is also currently part of the exhibition “Fiction/Non-fiction” at the Esker Foundation in Calgary, where he will be speaking on October 18 and 19 alongside other artists in that exhibition.

“Linklater has the distinct ability to articulate new measurements for authorship and histories,” the Sobey Art Award curatorial panel said in a release. “His positive and generous approach to art-making creates space for collaboration and audience engagement. Linklater actively investigates the authority of language and pushes its boundaries. His practice simultaneously engages with wild, rural, urban, and digital realms, offering refreshing positions on contemporary life.”

This adds to a banner year for Linklater, who is based in North Bay. He was also featured at Toronto’s 2013 Images Festival and in the summer enjoyed a solo show at Toronto’s Susan Hobbs Gallery curated by Althea Thauberger. His work is also part of the touring version of “Beat Nation: Art, Hip-Hop and Aboriginal Culture,” which opened at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2012, toured to Toronto’s Power Plant last December, and opens at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal this week.

In the Spring 2013 issue of Canadian Art, Vancouver critic Clint Burnham called Linklater “the Julian Assange of Native art,” in part for a work that attempted to intervene in the Wikipedia entry for Cape Spear.

Each of the other prize finalists–Isabelle Pauwels, Mark Clintberg, Pascal Grandmaison and Tamara Henderson—received $5,000, and each has a distinctive practice that has won them increasing accolades at home and abroad.

Tamara Henderson recently returned to Canada after several years working and studying in Germany and Sweden. She too exhibited at Documenta 13. Currently, she specializes in recordings of the unconscious that follow a dreamlike structure; in a February review for our site, Vancouver author Michael Turner described Henderson’s film Neon Figure as having “a surreal, Felliniesque quality.” For her Sobey Art Award exhibition work, the Chronicle-Herald reported that the NSCAD graduate engaged a local hypnotherapist to assist in creating a sculpture. In December, she is due to lead a residency on the Toronto Islands.

Pascal Grandmaison has been recognized for several years in the Montreal art scene, where he is based, as well as nationally. This week, Montreal dealer René Blouin opens a solo show of his new works. In 2006, he received a solo show at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and in 2012, he created a series of nighttime projections on downtown buildings that were linked together by a downloadable audio track. (A film showing parts of this work can be found in our December post about the project.) In 2011, Grandmaison’s work was also exhibited in a solo show at Casino Luxembourg—his first solo exhibition in Europe.

Isabelle Pauwels, born in Belgium, is based in New Westminster. Her films and installations often raise issues of narrative reliability; for instance, her 2010 installation W.E.S.T.E.R.N. integrated home-movie footage her grandfather shot in the Congo with video Pauwels shot in her parents’ Richmond home. The film element, as Sara Mameni reported in the Fall 2010 issue of Canadian Art, was exhibited in a hut structure, with the work contextualizing ”personal family history within parallel, and often problematic, narratives from popular culture.” More recently, Pauwels created a film at Western Front that, as Michael Turner reported for our site, “wove the demands of a teenage girl’s club, the exploits of a latex-clad dominatrix, the 1970s-era personae of three Western Front artist-landlords (Hank Bull, Glenn Lewis and Eric Metcalfe) and the building’s architecture into a harrowing tale of identity, inclusion and constraint.” She had a solo show at CSA Space this year.

Mark Clintberg has distinguished himself as an art historian, critic and curator as well as being an artist, and much of his work has reflected a sensitivity to the written word and its meanings. In 2012, he installed a large barn-board wall at the Art Gallery of Alberta painted with the words “Behind This Lies My True Desire for You.” As he told Canadian Art in an interview related to that project, “Since I’m also pursuing a PhD in art history, it’s very easy to fall into a pattern of considering art from an analytic, thoughtful perspective that is built around proving something or demonstrating an argument that’s purely about reason. I really believe that art institutions are places for reason and for thinking, but they are also places for feeling, too—for passionate feeling.” Clintberg was an artist in residence in Fogo Island, Newfoundland, this summer, and recently his public artwork It Happens at Night—with white neon spelling out the titular phrase—was installed on the side of Western Front in Vancouver.

Art by the finalists and the winner will be on view at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia until January 5.

The curatorial panel that decided on the shortlist and the winner consisted of Mireille Eagan, curator of Canadian art, the Rooms; Marie-Claude Landry, curator of contemporary art, Musée d’art de Joliette; Melissa Bennett, curator of contemporary art, Art Gallery of Hamilton; Jesse McKee, curator, Walter Phillips Gallery; and Charo Neville, curator, Kamloops Art Gallery.

The Sobey Art Award was created in 2002 by the Sobey Art Foundation. It is an annual prize given to an artist of age 40 or under who has exhibited in a public or commercial art gallery within 18 months of being nominated. Previous winners include Daniel Barrow, David Altmejd and Brian Jungen.

This article contains selections of text that have been previously published on our site.

Leah Sandals

Leah Sandals is a writer and editor based in Toronto. Her arts journalism has appeared in the Toronto Star, National Post and Globe and Mail, among other publications, and her creative work has been published in Prism, Room and Freefall. She can be reached via