The Vancouver Art Gallery awarded multimedia maverick Paul Wong this year’s Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts during a ceremony tonight at the law courts.
As an artist and curator, Wong is known for pioneering early media art in Canada. His work has ranged from early video art tackling topics from sex to racism to more recent explorations of digital and social-media platforms. He is recognized for a rich and lasting creative career that has included founding several artist-run groups (including the Video In/VIVO Media Arts Centre and On Main Gallery), leading public arts policy, and organizing events, festivals, conferences, and public interventions since the 1970s.
When asked about his initial reaction to the honour, Wong told the Straight: “‘Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!’ I was completely surprised. This represents four decades of working full on as an artist, doing the kind of work I love to do and doing it my way. It’s kind of a beautiful acknowledgment for what has been a wild ride of a career.”
The fourteenth Audain Prize, valued at $30,000, is funded by the Audain Foundation and is awarded by an independent jury.
The evening also celebrated two other individuals working in and advancing the field of visual arts in the city. Installation and photo-based artist Kelly Lycan and photo-based multimedia artist Raymond Boisjoly both received VIVA Awards, valued at $12,000, from the Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Lycan’s work has been exhibited across Canada, the United States, Europe, South America, and Asia. She is a member of Instant Coffee, a service-oriented artist collective.
Boisjoly is an indigenous artist of Haida and Québécois descent. His work has been presented in solo exhibitions across Canada as well as internationally as part of group shows.
The VIVA Awards were created in 1988 to support mid-career artists. Since its inception, 45 VIVA Awards have been awarded.