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Canadian Art Foundation Gala will showcase emerging and established Canadian artists

This year’s Canadian Art Foundation Gala will shine a spotlight on both emerging and need-to-know artists, ranging from veterans like Governor-General’s Award-winner Suzy Lake to up-and-comers like Marvin Luvualu Antonio.

The 21st-annual gala, set for Sept. 22, will also honour Michael Snow, a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and winner of the Governor-General’s Award, who has worked in a number of media including painting, sculpture and films. According to David Balzer, editor-in-chief and co-publisher of Canadian Art, Snow is “an innovator” who has “been at the forefront of contemporary art practice for decades, and his influence is significant both as creator and mentor.”

Antonio Engineer by Marvin Luvualu. (Courtesy the artist and Clint Roenisch Gallery)

The 48 works to be auctioned off were selected by an art advisory committee of 15 people. Ten lots will be auctioned off live, and the remaining 38 will be sold through a silent-auction process during the gala.

Balzer said the committee tried to find artists and pieces that fit with the theme of the fall issue of Canadian Art: satellites. This encompasses “artists whose practices extend or orbit away from Canada,” as well as artists outside of the country “whose practices orbit towards Canada.” Balzer says the theme is meant to emphasize “this kind of cross-border way of making art which seems to be an incredible condition of contemporary art practices right now.” This includes work from Canadian artist Chloe Wise, who currently lives in New York, and David Armstrong Six, who was born in Montreal but worked out of Berlin for a number of years.

Something Undeniable by Steve Driscoll. (Courtesy the artist and Angell Gallery)

The committee members also tried to showcase artists from across the country, specifically outside of Toronto, to reflect the diversity of Canadian art. In order to do this, they reached out to a number of gallerists from a range of cities including Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Winnipeg to hear their input. They were also conscious of including pieces from emerging artists like Hanna Hur, who was just shortlisted in the RBC Canadian Painting Competition and who is “somebody to watch,” according to Balzer.

“I think with Canadian art there’s lots that’s really shifted and changed over the last four or five years,” Gareth Brown-Jowett, co-chair of the art advisory committee, said. “To better understand how to represent Canada, it’s through this use of connecting with younger artists and I think that’s what’s really been a big change and focus this year.”

Pierced Pizza Pan with Pierced Bamboo and Birds by Karen Tam. (Courtesy the artist and Galerie Hugues Charbonneau)

Over all, Balzer said they hoped “to show the youthful vibrancy, the diversity and the internationalism of Canadian art.”

That’s not to say they didn’t include well-known and respected artists in the auction lineup. This includes a piece titled Leather Palm by Liz Magor, winner of the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in 2009 and who is “a living legend of Canadian contemporary art,” according to Balzer. They also lined up a work, Still Life with Line #1, from Chris Cran, who currently has an exhibition running at the National Gallery of Canada.

Still Life with Line #1 by Chris Cran. (Courtesy the artist and TrépanierBaer Gallery)

While Balzer can’t point to any overarching themes that all the pieces encompass, he does believes that “there’s a heavy emphasis on practices that are abstract.” He also noted that many of the artists are working with materials and manipulating materials, which will cause viewers to “think about materials and texture differently.”

“Contemporary art has reached a point where we’re kind of posttrend,” he added. “Artists do what they want.”

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