2019 Sobey Art Award exhibition opens for the first time in Western Canada


2019 Sobey Art Award exhibition opens for the first time in Western Canada

  • The Art Gallery of Alberta presents works created by the five finalists of one of the most prestigious art prizes in the world
  • Returning for its 16th edition, the Sobey Art Award exhibition features more than 35 works by Stephanie Comilang, Nicolas Grenier, Kablusiak, Anne Low and D’Arcy Wilson, who are among Canada’s most talented young artists
  • The annual Sobey Art Award is now valued at more than $650,000 CAD, and is one of the largest prizes for contemporary visual arts

“Artists are the beating heart of Canada and the Sobey Art Award supports and celebrates the critical role that new and diverse creative voices play in our society.”
Dr. Sasha Suda, Director and CEO, National Gallery of Canada

OTTAWA, October 3, 2019 – The Sobey Art Foundation and the National Gallery of Canada are delighted to announce the opening of the 2019 Sobey Art Award exhibition at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton. The exhibition presents the work of the five outstanding Canadian artists who have been shortlisted for the 2019 Sobey Art Award.

The Sobey Art Award recognizes the best Canadian artists forty years old and under as selected by an international jury of curators and art gallery directors. Curated by Lindsey Sharman, Curator of the Art Gallery of Alberta, the exhibition presents over 35 works, spanning from video-based installations and audience participation to paintings, sculptures, drawings and photographs. These five artists exemplify the impressive scope of contemporary Canadian art. “The work by this year’s shortlisted artists is incredibly varied and their diverse ways of working makes for a really interesting exhibition,” said Lindsey Sharman. “There are some crossovers of themes though, there is an attention to language running through the exhibition and there is definitely an interest in looking at colonial structures and colonial legacies.”

The exhibition officially opens to the public on Saturday, October 5, 2019 and runs until Sunday, January 5, 2020. It is complemented by a series of events and activities including an Artist Roundtable on Friday, October 4, from 5 – 6:30 pm, moderated by 2016 shortlisted nominee, Brenda Draney, followed by an Opening Party from 7 – 10:30 pm, as well as a Curator’s Tour on Saturday, October 26, from 1 – 2 pm. Free tickets for these events are available by visiting youraga.ca/sobey – courtesy of The Sobey Art Foundation.


“Over the past seventeen years, the trustees of the Sobey Art Foundation have watched with enormous pride as artists from across Canada have continued to build a vital cultural legacy for our country. I would like to express our gratitude to the Art Gallery of Alberta for hosting our first-ever exhibition in Alberta and thank this year’s curatorial panel and the entire teams of both the Art Gallery of Alberta and the National Gallery of Canada for their commitment to making the 2019 SAA exhibition a major success.” Rob Sobey, Chair of the Sobey Art Foundation

“This is the first time that the award has been presented as far west as Alberta, and we are honoured to have been selected as this year’s hosting venue. The award has become a major celebration of working artists in Canada, both as an exhibition with complementary programming and events but more importantly as a vehicle with which to generate ongoing public excitement and engagement with the work of young Canadian artists.” Catherine Crowston, Executive Director and Chief Curator, Art Gallery of Alberta

“One of the finest achievements of the Sobey Art Award is the enabling of conversations about contemporary art. From personal concerns to global themes, the five artists offer new reflections as they explore complex issues such as tradition, loss of identity, our relationship to nature, language, migration, critiques of settler culture, and notions of home. In my opinion the works – which range from sculpture and video to painting and performance – show that contemporary Canadian art has much to offer as part of an international discourse with distinct voices.” Henriette Bretton-Meyer, Curator, Kunsthal Charlottenborg (Copenhagen) and Sobey Art Award International Juror

This year, the Sobey Art Award distributes $240,000 CAD in prize money, including a top prize of $100,000 CAD. Each of the four finalists will receive $25,000 CAD, and the other longlisted artists will receive $2,000 CAD each. The winner of the 2019 Sobey Art Award will be revealed during a private gala event at the Art Gallery of Alberta on Friday, November 15, 2019. Next year the Sobey Art Award exhibition and gala will return to the National Gallery of Canada.

About the 2019 shortlisted artists and their work

  • From the Ontario region, Stephanie Comilang’s video works follow Paraiso, a Tagalog speaking “drone” who documents Filipino diasporic experiences.
  • From the Quebec region, Nicolas Grenier uses painting and the coding of colour to investigate political, economic, cultural and social spaces.
  • From the Prairies and North region Kablusiak uses humour to cope with their cultural displacement and is creating a methodology for inventing cultural connections from an urban perspective.
  • From the West Coast and Yukon region Anne Low uses sculpture, installation, textiles and printmaking to investigate how forms can detach from their historical context to speak to contemporary notions of the domestic and the decorative.
  • From the Atlantic region D’Arcy Wilson’s art examines a colonial relationship to the natural world from her perspective as a descendant of European settlers.

Further information and updates about the 2019 artists, jurors, the Sobey Art Award exhibition, and the Sobey Art Award Residency Program can be found at gallery.ca/sobey, as well as by following @PrixSobeyAward. The full list of activities during the exhibition can be found youraga.ca/sobey and gallery.ca/sobey.


SOCIAL MEDIA: #SobeyArtAward

Follow our live broadcast of the Artist Roundtable on Friday, October 4, from 5 – 6.30 pm (MDT), moderated by 2016 shortlisted nominee Brenda Draney.

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For all media enquiries, please contact:

Sobey Art Foundation
Bernard Doucet
T + 902-752-8371 ext. 2301
C + 902-921-1755

Art Gallery of Alberta
Kerrie Sanderson
Edmonton + Calgary
T + 780-392-2469

National Gallery of Canada
Geneviève Ménard
Media Relations Manager
T + 613-990-1654