2023 Sobey Art Award Shortlist

Now in its 20th year, the Sobey Art Award is the preeminent contemporary visual art prize awarded annually to Canadian artists. The award was established by Donald R. Sobey and the Sobey Art Foundation as a means to highlight Canadian artists. The award was administered by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia until 2015, and has been administered by the National Gallery of Canada in the years following. The Sobey Art Award celebrates Canadian artists doing significant work, bringing their achievements to a Canadian audience but also drawing the attention of a broader international audience to the relevant and innovative work of Canadian artists.

Previous winners of the Sobey Art Award include noteworthy Canadian artists such as Brian Jungen, Annie Pootoogook, Kapwani Kiwanga, David Altmejd, and last year’s winner, Divya Mehra.

The award is open to artists of any age who have exhibited in a public or commercial art gallery within 18 months of their nomination. An initial selection of 25 long-listed artists is narrowed down to five finalists, each of whom represent a region of Canada. The final winner of this year’s $100,000 prize will be announced on November 18, 2023.

The Sobey Art Award is one of the most substantial visual art prizes available internationally and is unique in that since 2018, it has distributed prizes to each of the nominees. In 2023, a total sum of $400,000 will be awarded: in addition to the grand prize, each shortlisted artist will receive an award of $25,000, while $10,000 will go to each of the twenty remaining long-listed artists.

The 2023 Nominees are:

Atlantic: Séamus Gallagher
Quebec: Anahita Norouzi
Ontario: Michèle Pearson Clarke
Prairies and North: Kablusiak
West Coast and Yukon: Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill

Work by the five artists shortlisted for the 2023 Sobey Art Award is on view in an extensive exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada from October 13, 2023 until March 3, 2024.

Séamus Gallagher A Slippery Place and A Slippery Place 4, 2018 Collection of the artist Installation view at the Sobey Art Award exhibition, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 13 October 2023 – 3 March 2024 © Séamus Gallagher. Photo: NGC

Séamus Gallagher

Séamus Gallagher is a lens-based artist whose self-portraits feature clothing and headpieces influenced by drag culture and video game aesthetics. The garments were first digitally rendered and then constructed using paper in an exploration of queerness, camp and the liberatory nature of failure. Gallagher is from Moncton, New Brunswick and currently lives in Kjipuktuk/Halifax, Nova Scotia. Their work has been shown at the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig, the Portrait Gallery of Canada, and the Locarno Film Festival. They have been a recipient of the Scotiabank 2022 New Generation Photography Award, the 2022 Nova Scotia Emerging Artist Recognition Award, as well as the 2019 BMO 1st Art Award.

Anahita Norouzi May You Break Free and Outlive Your Enemy, 2023 Glass, clay, polyurethane sealant and metal Courtesy the artist Installation view at the Sobey Art Award exhibition, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 13 October 2023 – 3 March 2024 © Anahita Norouzi. Photo: NGC

Anahita Norouzi

Anahita Norouzi is originally from Tehran, and travels between Iran and Canada as a part of her research-based practice. Her work ranges from sculpture and installation to photography and video, often employing botanical and archeological imagery to interrogate the legacy of colonial history, immigration, displacement, and identity, drawing parallels between the language used to discuss invasive plant species and refugees from the Global South. Norouzi has been based in Montréal since 2018, and has exhibited at Galerie Nicolas Robert, the Musée national des beaux-arts, Gallery 44, and The New Gallery. She has been a recipient of the 2023 Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec Contemporary Art Award, the 2021 Grantham Foundation Creation Award, and the 2021 Montréal Museum of Fine Arts Impressions Residency and Creation Award.

Michèle Pearson Clarke Quantum Choir, 2022 4-channel, 4K video installation (colour, sound, 12:46 min.), soccer balls and training cones Collection of the artist Installation view at the Sobey Art Award exhibition, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 13 October 2023 – 3 March 2024 © Michèle Pearson Clarke. Photo: NGC

Michèle Pearson Clarke

Michèle Pearson Clarke uses video and photography to document grief as a collective and public experience. In her work, the shared vulnerability of collective grief becomes a mechanism for creating space and capacity for social connection and political engagement, focusing specifically on Black and queer experiences of loss and longing. Born in Trinidad, Clarke is currently based in Toronto, Ontario. In the past she has exhibited in Chicago, Lagos, Los Angeles, and Montréal, and was the second Photo Laureate for the City of Toronto from 2019 to 2022.

Kablusiak Red Ookpik with Hat, Red Ookpik, Plucked Ookpik, Furby Ookpik and Garfield Ookpik, 2021–23 Collection of Marnie Schreiber; Collection of Frank Griggs and Jeremy Laing; and Courtesy the artist and Norberg Hall, Calgary © Kablusiak. Photo: NGC


Kablusiak is an Inuvialuk artist and curator whose diverse and multidisciplinary practice centres displacement, cultural loss, and the ever-shifting relationships to place and self. Their work is an expression of Inuk queerness interwoven with comedy, nostalgia and loss, as well as connection and disconnection to the Inuit diaspora. Kablusiak was born in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, raised in Edmonton, Alberta, and is now based in Calgary, Alberta. Their work is in the collections of the Indigenous Art Centre (CIRNAC), the Art Gallery of Alberta, the Alberta Foundation of the Arts, Walter Phillips Gallery, The Image Centre, and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill Spread, 2021 Pantyhose, tobacco, thread, charms and rabbit fur Gochman Family Collection © Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill. Photo: Courtesy the artist

Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill

Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill is a Métis sculptor and writer for whom found objects and materials are a means to explore the conditions of their production. Her practice questions notions of land, property, and economy. Hill was born in Comox, British Columbia and currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. She has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the 59th Venice Biennale, Le Magazin–CNAC in Grenoble, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and Gallery TPW, and is a member of BUSH Gallery.

The members of the 2023 Sobey Art Award Jury are

Pamela Edmonds, Director and Curator at the Dalhousie Art Gallery (Atlantic)

Eve-Lyne Beaudry, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (Québec)

Wanda Nanibush, Curator of Indigenous Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Ontario)

Haema Sivanesan, Director of Leighton Studios and Program Partnerships at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (Prairies and North)

Matthew Hyland, Executive Director at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (West Coast and Yukon)

Cecilia Alemani, Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director and Chief Curator of High Line Art, New York, and Curator of the 59th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale 2022 (International).

Congratulations to all nominees.

More information is available here.

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