Brooklyn-based, Winnipeg-born artist Marcel Dzama and Montreal curator Marie-Josée Jean have been named as the recipients of the 2013 Hnatyshyn Foundation Visual Arts Awards. Dzama takes away the $25,000 prize for outstanding achievement by a Canadian artist while Jean, who is Director of VOX, centre de l’image contemporaine, is the winner of the $15,000 award for curatorial excellence in contemporary art.
The jury for this year’s awards included Diana Nemiroff, Peggy Gale, Nigel Prince, Eve-Lyne Beaudry and Robert Enright.
Since the late 1990s, Dzama (who was a founding member of Winnipeg’s Royal Art Lodge) has been widely regarded for his comic book–styled drawings and performances that depict an eccentric cast of pop-culture references—flying bats, bears, trees and hooded ballet dancers with AK-47s, among them—framed with a wryly critical edge. Over the past decade, his practice has come to encompass a wide range of media including film, painting, dioramas and sculpture.
The jury noted that “an expansive range and depth of narrative has emerged since he first became known for his now distinctive drawings….Dzama’s work reveals a tougher, more politicized reading combining personal histories aligned with the strategies of early modernism. Such beguiling sophistication foiled by the unpredictable lends a nuanced, multilayered air to his subjects while elucidating a resonance with our contemporary world.”
Jean is a well-known figure on the Montreal art scene and a driving force behind the growing critical reprisal of conceptual art practices in Quebec and beyond. Her exhibitions have been presented in Quebec and Europe in venues such as the Centre d’art Santa Mònica in Barcelona, the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam, the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein in Germany, and the Villa Arson, Centre national d’art contemporain in Nice. She was also the artistic director for the 6th and 7th editions of Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal. In addition to her work as a curator, Jean holds teaching posts at the Université du Québec à Montréal and the Université Laval in Quebec City. Currently, Jean is working with Canadian and European institutions to develop a project on the “history and practice of exhibitions developed by artists.”
In proposing Jean as the recipient for the award, the jury noted: “For more than 15 years, Marie-Josée Jean has researched conceptual art with a fresh analytical eye, examining both the recent history of the movement, as well as its iconic works, in a field yet to be the subject of a single in-depth study. Her exhibitions, publications and lectures attest to her diligence and precision, as well as a high degree of intellectual rigour….As a result, her work has been key in helping to advance this particular discipline.”