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Last night, the annual Prix Canson was celebrated for the first time in the United States. The five finalists arrived with selected guests at the Drawing Center in New York for a private evening with the jury and guests to announce the winner of the 2016 prize. In its sixth year, the Prix Canson was created to honor the brilliant work of contemporary artists under 50, whose work expresses the use and passion for paper mediums.
This year the five finalists consisted of Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze, Bethany Collins, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, David Shrigley, and Lucy Skaer. Each artist presented expressive works with underlying themes of identity, race, irony, and current events.
“We have a lot of narrative based work and a lot of work dealing with issues again of identity and race,” said Brett Littman, Executive Director of the Drawing Center and President of the Prix Canson Jury. “Drawing has really become a kind of method for really understanding identity and that is cross cultural,” he continued.
Last night, Njideka Akunyili Crosby was named the winner, awarded Canson paper worth €10,000. In addition, Crosby’s work will be exhibited in at least one major contemporary art fair or museum, and an artwork added to the Fonds Canson collection.
Her hauntingly potent “The Beautiful Ones” series (2014) was created with acrylic, color pencils, collage, charcoal, and transfers on paper. Crosby drew inspiration from her personal life and used her sister as a muse in one of the pieces.
Also on view are the Untitled (2016) works by Shrigley which dance between lines of complexity, simplicity, and irony, mostly consisting of oil stick and gesso on paper with some acrylic on a few. Skaer explored concepts of memory and time in her work Untitled Black Paper (2015), which from afar looks like three panels of pencil shading, but uses layered shading, gridding and small treatments like swirls to create different imagery.
Creative forms of erasure are found on the lower level of the exhibition with Collins’ work. She employs the manipulation of language with poetic undertones seen with Southern Review, 1985 (2014-2015). And Onyinyechi Amaze captured hybridity with her animalistic humans as seen in 10 Litres of Air [The Divers II] (2016).
“If you want to see five really strong contemporary artists thinking about drawing, this is the place to see it and you’re not going to see this ever put together in the same room again. It’s a show that has no thematic précis, we didn’t say that we’re going to put these people together,” said Littman.
The exhibition of the Prix Canson winner and other finalists is on view at the Drawing Center through July 1.