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Northern Ontario rising star Duane Linklater wins $50,000 Sobey Art Award

North Bay-based artist Duane Linklater, hailed for his "refreshing positions on contemporary life" and "broad relevance to national and international art," has won the 2013 Sobey Art Award, at $50,000 one of Canada's most lucrative art prizes.

Mr. Linklater, 36, an Omaskeko Cree from Moose Cree First Nation in Nothern Ontario, was named the Sobey laureate Wednesday evening at a gala ceremony at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax, where he prevailed over four other finalists from across the country.

Mr. Linklater is the 10th winner of the award, established in 2002 by Donald Sobey, former chair of the National Gallery of Canada, to recognize the achievements of Canadian creators 40 years of age or under. Initially awarded every two years, the prize became an annual event in 2006, with artists represented by region.

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In a statement, the five-member jury, all curators with institutional affiliations, lauded Mr. Linklater's "positive and generous approach to art-making [which] creates space for collaboration and audience engagement." The jurors went on to note that his practice "simultaneously engages with wild, rural, urban and digital realms," allowing for "new perspectives within indigenous cultural production" while being "relevant to contemporary national and international art."

The award affirms Mr. Linklater's rising star in the art firmament. Educated at the University of Alberta and Bard College, New York, he's exhibited his broad, process-oriented output – it includes works in neon, video, film, installation, performance, painting as well as "scculptural objects" – in galleries in Canada and the U.S.. Last year Modest Livelihood, a 50-minute silent film collaboration with fellow First Nations' artist/2002 Sobey winner Brian Jungen, was presented at dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany, often deemed the most imporant contemporary art showcase in the world.

Each of the four 2013 runners-up – Isabelle Pauwels, 38 (representing West Coast and Yukon), Mark Clintberg, 37 (prairies and the north), Pascal Grandmaison, 38 (Quebec) and Tamara Henderson, 31 (Atlantic Canada) – receives $5,000. Virtually from its inception the Sobey has been a harbinger of greater success for both winner and finalists: more than 60 per cent of the artists featured at last year's acclaimed Oh, Canada survey at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art had been Sobey nominees.

Works by Mr. Linklater and the four runners-up are on display at the AGNS, Halifax through Jan. 5, 2014.

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James More


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