Visual artist and teacher Ian Wallace is the winner of 2022 Audain Prize, the Audain Foundation announced in Vancouver Thursday.
The $100,000 prize, established in 2004, recognizes the careers of British Columbia’s most distinguished artists. A photographer and painter, Mr. Wallace is the 19th winner and a key figure in the conceptual-photography movement centred in Vancouver, which also includes artists such as Ken Lum and previous winner Jeff Wall.
Mr. Wallace has exhibited widely in North America and Europe, and received the Molson Prize in 2009 and the Governor General’s Award in Visual Arts in 2004. Announcing the prize on Thursday, art collector and philanthropist Michael Audain also pointed to Mr. Wallace’s role as a mentor to younger artists. Mr. Wallace taught at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design (now Emily Carr University of Art and Design) from 1972 to 1998.
“The Audain Foundation wants to see our leading artists become better known. After all, British Columbia has many important visual artists who are not as widely recognized as they should be,” Mr. Audain said in a statement accompanying the announcement. “With some of the world’s best contemporary artists, we believe they should be better known by all British Columbians.”
The Audain Prize is one of the most lucrative arts prizes in Canada, in the same $100,000 company as the annual Scotiabank Giller Prize for fiction, the Sobey Art Award presented to an emerging visual artist and the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award judged by the Toronto Film Critics Association.
“I’ve been making work and exhibiting for 50 years, since 1965,” Mr. Wallace said in an interview. “It’s really nice to get acknowledgment. … It costs a lot of money to produce art. I have to make sure it needs to be done; it’s necessary work. … Prizes are, very selfishly, a financial reward, [but] what’s important is the prestige of the artists who have won it before.”
Mr. Wallace addresses three themes in his work: the studio where art is made, the museum where it is shown and the street, where he considers how we encounter contemporary society. For example, in work from the last decade, he has juxtaposed photographs of his own studio, classical sculptures in a museum and a construction site with abstract painted panels.
The Audain Foundation, which was established in 1997 to support the visual arts in British Columbia, also announced the receipts of five $7,500 travel grants for students in university-level visual arts programs.