The Sobey Awards: My Picks
A couple of weeks ago the Short List for the runner ups of the 2011 Sobey Awards. In honor I have re-posted this article about last years picks
originaly published 12/09/10
Today the winner of the 2010 Sobey awards will be announced. I had a chance to see The 2010 Sobey Awards finalists as they are currently on exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art. The Sobey Awards is a national Canadian annual competition created by the Sobey Arts Foundation to promote visual arts and emerging artists in Canada. The Award winner receives a GENEROUS BURSURY of FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS with runners up receiving FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS each, both the prize monies as well as the recognition can create a serious amount of momentum in any individual’s career. Therefore the competition can be fierce and only the crème du la crème make it to the top. The work from this year’s finalist consisted of optically appealing and mentally compelling works created by this countries top emerging artist.
Representing each of Canada’s unique and divers regions the artist recognized this year were as follows: Emily Vey Duke +Cooper Battersby, Brendan Fernandeses, Patrick Brenatchez, Daniel Barrow, and Brendan Lee Satish Tang. Although all the works were wonderful, there where a couple of artistic presentations that dropped me to my knees to BOW AT THE ALTER of MODERN ART. The two artist’s presentation that spoke to my artistic sensibilities the most where Patrick Bernatches and Brendan Lee Satish Tang, therefore for this article they are my finalist, finalist.
Before I get to the winner lets first look at my finalist’s works. Both of These Artists’ works give a VERY REAL SENSE of where art has been, where it is presently and where it is headed in the future. The skill and vision with which both these artists’ concocted their creations is impeccable and breathtaking. Often the viewer feels as though they where looking at something far greater than themselves and at times something even greater than their imagination. Both presentations by these artists’ are “sculptural” in form, as Mr Brenatchez work is installation based, and Mr. Satish Tang’s is created in the ART of TRADITIONAL VESSEL MAKING. That is where similarities end.
For the instillation pieces of Patrick Brenatchez, the artist uses light, sound, video, and setting as well as “contemporary” objects to emerge his viewers in an alternative place. This place changes the viewer’s state the moment one engages with these works. I say the words “contemporary” and “engages” very loosely as objects used to create these instillations come from through out the history of our industrialized world. As for engaging the works although the viewer is immersed within the instillations one feels that they are separate from the works and there to simply observe.
For his works being shown at the MMAC the viewer walks into very dark spaces often the only sign of light is a spot light highlighting the objects presence in space. For one work a very fine watch sits on the pedestal the sound of it’s time passing amplified by stereo. As the viewer watches and listens time ceases and becomes meaningless. Separated from the rest of the world there is a certain amount of contentment created as one just stands a stares listening to time pass. No other reality seems to exist while standing in this space.
For other works similar settings are created isolating viewers from the world in which we live. Dark spaces and sound help separate us from our present reality. At times it almost feels as one is moving backwards in time and space. This feeling does not only hold true for his above mentioned work “BlackWatch” , it also applies to other works. One of which involves a video screen in which a sculptural still life is being displayed to be viewed like a painting. This “video painting” is based on a hidden sculpture which goes by ALMOST unnoticed, as it his hidden by a faux wall and only dimly illuminated at certain intervals. The viewer’s attention is also automatically drawn to the fist thing one sees and hears, the video screen and an old record player playing Bach. Once one becomes aware of the actual sculpture one see the same objects that have been placed in the “painting”. The still life used could possibly reference a style of seventeenth century painting known as Vanitas, which was laced with symbolism of death and pleasure. The feelings evoked by this work once again seems to leave one wondering where one stands in time. Are we headed to the future or are we heading to the past or could it possibly be they are the same thing. Time seems ambiguous; as we are well into the twenty first century these works seem to stimulate our curiosity about where humanities past will lead us in the future.
A very similar narrative can be found in the works of Mr. Satish Tang. For this body of work, traditional vessels referencing Chinese antiques that were, adored, acquired and redecorated with 14 karat gold for King Louis XV of France serve as the beginning reference point. Through his knowledge of art history and use of current cultural language Mr. Satish Tang again use the traditions of his CRAFT (stated in Highest regards to the Mastery of this work without preconceptions of any debate on what is Art or Craft) to create something NEW . By appropriating historical culture as well as current cultural trends he manages to take ART to the highest and next Level.
For his series “Manga Ormolu” he has created a HUGE body of ceramic sculptures that literally morph from ancient vessels, into relevant contemporary figurine type art pieces. Such as collectables that are now easily found in comic book shops and “low brow” art spaces. Referencing Manga Japenese comic books these “ancient” vessels transform into new exciting forms. as man made objects, cellular organic growth and cybernetics all turn into one creation. What makes these works particularly relevant is the world around us seems to be changing so quickly. Almost beyond our control as things we recognised recently have quickly changed into something else beyond our comprehension. When the a viewer looks at these AWE inspiring hand crafted objects they are very well aware that they are looking at ART with a capital A. These objects will transcend time and easily tell the future of what life was like in our times.
AND FOR THAT REASON MY PICK FOR the 2010 SOBEY AWARDS IS MR. BRENDAN LEE SATISH TANG!!!!!!!!!! Although both of my finalists’ work REALY TURNED MY CRANK(not be mistaken with MCCRANK). Mr. Satish Tang’s work came out ahead as it is my belief that at this moment there is a void or a distance between the ART world and the general public as often art is too intellectualized for the “average” viewer to understand. Which then alienates the audience, there by creating a greater distance between art and those to whom it is suppose to speak . Both artists work evoke an automatic emotion and create some really intense emotions when seeing the pieces. I believe Mr. Satish Tang’s work speaks easily to the viewer and therefore is more easily comprehended by its audience. Which in turn then the viewers can more easily discuss, which then generates more people going to see the works, which then in turn creates more people in the gallery, there by inspiring more people to appreciate it, understand it and then be inspired to create works of ART. Which is really what art is all about. Congratulations Mr. Satish Tang and keep up the phenomenal work!!