Emmanuel Osahor wins $30,000 Joseph Plaskett Award in Painting

$10,000 Nancy Petry Award won by Ella Gonzales

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Painter Emmanuel Osahor in his studio. Photo credit: Richelle Forsey.

Painter Emmanuel Osahor is the 2021 recipient of the $30,000 Joseph Plaskett postgraduate award in painting. His thesis exhibition, For a moment, is on display at the Art Gallery of Guelph until October 3, 2021. Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, he is currently completing a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting at the University of Guelph in Ontario. The award will allow him to spend six months in Europe when public health guidelines permit international travel again.

During his time in Europe, Osahor plans to undertake a self-directed residency in London, England, and develop a new body of paintings based on the study of principles of English garden design. He is interested in the legacy of colonization that can manifest through the history of garden design: “I will collect source material through photography and outdoor painting at public gardens and conservatories. Studying English garden history might provide a way to address the similar histories present in my birth country – Nigeria, and my current country of residence – Canada, both Commonwealth countries.” While in Europe, Osahor wishes to participate in artist residencies and to visit museums to engage with English romantic landscape painting and with the works of Black painters practising in the diaspora, who have been an inspiration to his own practice.

The jury unanimously appreciated Osahor’s high-quality, attractive paintings. They enjoyed their ambitious scale and the permission for pleasure that emerges from Osahor’s use of collage and drawing to alter the composition, and from his experimentation with materiality through techniques such as scraping. The jury also recognized the political subtext of his subject matter, and expect his involvement with Black diaspora artists in Europe to further enrich his work.

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Painter Ella Gonzales in her studio. Photo credit: Richelle Forsey.

The 2021 Nancy Petry Award was won by Filipina-Canadian painter Ella Gonzales who is currently completing a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting at the University of Guelph in Ontario. Her paintings and installations are inspired by narratives of migration that inform the Filipino Diaspora. She references the many homes she lived in, using family photos and videos as the basis on which she creates digital drawings with Sketch-Up modelling software. The $10,000 award will allow her to travel for two months to Europe, where she plans to spend most of her time in Berlin researching about Bauhaus School of Design principles. The jury appreciated Ella Gonzales’s subtle and accomplished painted works, her skilful use of colour, and her ability to draw influences from the history of painting and make them her own.

The award recipients were chosen after a careful assessment of the 34 exceptional applications that were received. The jury met virtually in June 2021. In an effort to accurately represent the variety of viewpoints in Canadian painting, the jury members came from different regions: David Garneau, Professor of Visual Arts, University of Regina, Saskatchewan; Beth Stuart, Assistant Professor of Visual Arts, University of Victoria, Vancouver; Jinny Yu, Associate Professor of Visual Arts, University of Ottawa, Ottawa.

The call for applications will open in February 2022 for the next set of Plaskett and Petry Awards. Canadian artist Joseph Plaskett, who wished to give young Canadian painters the opportunity to discover Europe, created the Joe Plaskett Foundation in 2004. Since 2015, the Nancy Petry Foundation has partnered with the Joe Plaskett Foundation to administer a second prize given to the first runner-up. The award recipients are exceptional emerging Canadian artists in the field of painting who are admitted in a graduate program.

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