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Indian artist Gauri Gill wins $50,000 Grange Prize

Gauri Gill (Indian), Sunita, Nirmala and Sita, from the series Balika Mela Portraits, 2003, archival pigment print, 76 x 102 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Nature Morte Gallery. © 2011 Gauri Gill

(TORONTO/MONTREAL – Nov. 1, 2011) After an eight-week public vote, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and Aeroplan are proud to announce that Delhi-based artist Gauri Gill is the winner of The Grange Prize 2011. The $50,000 prize is Canada’s largest photography prize, also granting $5,000 and an international residency to each of the runners-up, and is the only major Canadian art prize to have its winner chosen by the public.

Gill is an Indian photographer born in 1970 and based in Delhi, India, whose body of work includes a decade-long study of people living in marginalized communities in Rajasthan, India. Her photographs “often address ordinary heroism within challenging environments,” says a statement on behalf of the nominating jury, “depicting the artist’s often-intimate relationships with her subjects with a documentary spirit and a human concern over issues of survival.”

“The Grange Prize is a model of innovation among international art prizes,” says Matthew Teitelbaum, the Michael and Sonja Koerner director, and CEO, Art Gallery of Ontario. “Aeroplan and the AGO founded the prize with the shared desire to create more than a traditional art prize, for both the artists nominated and the audiences experiencing the works. We’re proud to accomplish that via artist-designed residencies and an online vote that gives the viewing public as much say as the experts in deciding what makes great art. I offer my sincere congratulations to Ms. Gill and all of the shortlisted artists.”

“This partnership between Aeroplan and the AGO is a unique collaboration of two organizations that recognize the importance of photography in contemporary art.  We are pleased that the Prize is encouraging people from around the world to talk about photography,” said Vince Timpano, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canada, Aimia. “This year’s shortlisted artists are a very talented group and we are thrilled to be showcasing their work.”

Works by all four finalists — Canadians Elaine Stocki and Althea Thauberger, and Indians Gill and Nandini Valli — are currently on view at the AGO in The Grange Prize 2011 Exhibition, on view through Nov. 27. The public was able to vote for their choice inside the exhibition or online at www.thegrangeprize.com, where works by all four artists are still on view. The winner has been selected entirely by public vote, which drew voters from Canada, India, the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Mexico, and China.

The four finalists were selected by a nominating jury comprising AGO acting curator of Canadian art Michelle Jacques; Wayne Baerwaldt, the acting vice president of research and academic affairs at the Alberta College of Art + Design in Calgary; Gayatri Sinha, a Delhi-based art critic and curator; and Sunil Gupta, a photographer, writer and curator born in India and living in New Delhi and London, U.K.

The Grange Prize finalists each receive an international residency, part of the prize’s mandate to foster the development of contemporary photography. Gill and Valli spent three weeks in Toronto in September working in the AGO’s new Artist in Residence studio, researching and creating new work. Stocki and Thauberger plan to travel to India in the New Year.

The Grange Prize was awarded to Canadian photographer Kristan Horton in 2010, when the partner country was the U.S. Mexican photographer Marco Antonio Cruz won in 2009 and Winnipeg-based artist Sarah Anne Johnson took the prize in 2008, when the partner country was China.

Aeroplan and the AGO gratefully acknowledge the support of The Globe and Mail, official Media Partner for The Grange Prize. Contemporary programming at the AGO is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts. Updates, blog postings, and more information about The Grange Prize can be found at thegrangeprize.com.

ABOUT GAURI GILL
Gauri Gill was born in Chandigarh, India, in 1970. She received BFAs at the Delhi College of Art, New Delhi (1992) and the Parsons School of Design, New York (1994), and an MFA at Stanford University, California (2002). Since she started exhibiting in 2007, her work has been shown widely in India and across the world. Solo exhibitions include: What Remains, Green Cardamom Gallery, London (2011); Notes from the Desert, shown at Nature Morte Gallery, New Delhi, Matthieu Foss Gallery, Mumbai, Focus Gallery, Chennai, and Urmul Setu, Lunkaransar (2010–2011); and The Americans, shown at Nature Morte Gallery, New Delhi, Thomas Welton Art Gallery, Stanford University, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, Bose Pacia Gallery, Kolkata and New York, and Mississauga Central Library, Mississauga (2008–2011). She lives and works in New Delhi.


ABOUT AEROPLAN
Aeroplan, Canada’s premier coalition loyalty program, is owned by Groupe Aeroplan Inc., doing business as Aimia, a global leader in loyalty management. Aeroplan is a long-standing patron of the arts, with a history of supporting artists and arts initiatives across Canada. Of particular significance is the company’s work, in partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario, to develop The Grange Prize for contemporary photography. Aeroplan is committed to fostering a long-term, international dialogue about this important art form. Aeroplan is the Signature Partner of the Photography Collection Program, supporting planned AGO activities to engage visitors with photography, including special lectures and tours.

For more information about Aeroplan, visit www.aeroplan.com or www.aimia.com.

ABOUT THE AGO
With a permanent collection of more than 80,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. In 2008, with a stunning new design by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, the AGO opened its doors to the public amid international acclaim. Architectural highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase made of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block along the Gallery’s façade; and the feature staircase, spiraling up through the roof of Walker Court and into the new contemporary galleries above. From the extensive Group of Seven collection to the dramatic African art gallery; from the cutting-edge works in the contemporary tower to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, a highlight of the celebrated Thomson Collection, there is truly something for everyone at the AGO.

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For more images and more information, contact:

Sean O’Neill, 416-979-6660 ext. 561, sean_oneill@ago.net
Caitlin Coull, 416-979-6660 ext. 364, caitlin_coull@ago.net|
Christa Poole, Aeroplan, 416-352-3745, christa.poole@aeroplan.com 

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture. Additional operating support is received from the Volunteers of the AGO, the City of Toronto, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and the Canada Council for the Arts.