Jon Rafman was born here and hardly needs an introduction, especially at the moment, as he is showcased together with David Altmejd in a blockbuster exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art. Abbas Akhavan, on the other hand, holds a BFA in art history and studio arts from Montreal’s Concordia University, which has seen many of its students make the Sobey list (27 since its inception in 2002). Last year Nadia Myre won of the award, and thus joined Raphaëlle de Groot (2012), Daniel Barrow (2010) and Michel de Broin (2007). Akhavan, winner of the 2012 Kunstpreis Berlin and the 2014 Abraaj Group Art Prize, is known for his extremely diverse production, from performance and installation to drawing, sculpture and video. His large scale, ephemeral installations hinge on the site chosen by the artist, its architecture, inhabitants, the surroundings. He has been exhibiting steadily in Canada and abroad.

The other finalists for this year’s award include Raymond Boisjoly, representing the West Coast and the Yukon; Sarah Anne Johnson, the Prairies and Northern Canada; and Lisa Lipton, Atlantic Canada. Akhavan, who lives and works in Toronto and Istanbul, represents Ontario, while Jon Rafman, Quebec. Their work will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia before the winner is announced on October 28.

The Sobey Art Award, which comes with $50,000, is handed annually to an established artist aged 40 or under. All nominees must have exhibited their artwork in a public or commercial art gallery in the previous 18 months.

 
Abbas Akhavan

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

 



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Abbas Akhavan

 
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Study of a Glasshouse, 2013

 
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Variations on Ghosts and Guests, 2011

 
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Detail from Islands, 2010

 
Photos courtesy of the artist.