Sanadze’s work titled Apotheosis (2021) is on display now in ‘the churchie’ finalists’ exhibition at the IMA. She was selected as the winner by guest judge Rhana Devenport ONZM, Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia, taking home the $15,000 non-acquisitive cash prize donated by long-term sponsors of ‘the churchie’, BSPN Architecture.
The Georgian-born artist’s sculptural work is constructed from the surviving studio archive of prominent Soviet monumental sculptor, Valentin Topuridze (1907-1980), whose public sculptures were torn down in 1989 with the fall of the Soviet regime.
“Plaster models, moulds and fragments are rescued and accumulated to form unexpected conversations as limbs, bodies, horses and uniforms entwine in a tumbling concatenation of loss and hope,” said judge Rhana Devenport.
“Drawing on her own familial history in Georgia (former USSR), Nina Sanadze is compelled to respond to some of the great forces of our time—ideology, authority, monuments, conflict and survival—amidst the transient yet insistent fabric of memory, beauty and tenderness.
“Evocative and dramatic, Nina transforms the once victorious into a tumbling morphic vortex of fragility.
Sanadze “possesses a powerful ability to draw on the political, the familial and the poetic with great clarity and aesthetic poignancy,” said Devenport.
“In another layer of complexity, the installation is inspired by the much reproduced 19th century painting The Apotheosis of War (1871) by Russian war artist Vasily Vereshchagin, which is itself a stark commentary on humanity’s potential and ideological viewpoints.”
“A sense of urgency to respond to and grapple with a myriad of contemporary socio-political and personal developments drive my creative practice . . . Humour and beauty allow me to address often disturbing concerns, reflecting the complex paradigm of our existence, which is simultaneously sublime and horrific,” Sanadze said about their work.
In addition to the Major Prize, a Special Commendation Prize of $5,000, sponsored by Fardoulys Constructions, was awarded to Brisbane-based Kyra Manktelow and two Commendation prizes of $1,000, sponsored by Madison Cleaning Services, were awarded to Sydney-based Riana Head-Toussaint and Brisbane-based Visaya Hoffie.
Kyra Mancktelow’s Special Commendation is yet another accolade after her recent acceptance of the Emerging Artists Award at the NATSIAA Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards.
“Through her beautiful prints, objects, and body adornments, Quandamooka artist Kyra Mancktelow addresses the fraught legacies of a traumatic and complex colonial past,” said judge Rhana Devenport.
Riana Head-Toussaint’s video work First Language (2020) is a meditation on movement; it considers the inherent choreography at play in wheelchair use. Devenport described it as “an arresting and sensuous time-based work.”
On Visaya Hoffie’s multimedia installation, the judge said: “Popular culture and hierarchies of information collide in this playful and anarchic assemblage of materials, forms and imagery.”
Now in its 34th year, ‘the churchie’ has become one of Australia’s leading prizes for emerging artists, platforming up-and-coming contemporary artists on a national stage.
The prize winners were selected from 14 finalists whose artworks are now on display in an exhibition at Fortitude Valley’s Institute of Modern Art. These artists—whose work span painting, video, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, installation and more—were selected from almost 500 entries.
The finalists’ exhibition at the IMA provides a survey of the pressing artistic concerns of early-career artists from across Australia following a year of extraordinary events. The exhibition was curated by artist, writer and curator Grace Herbert in a role sponsored by Armitstead ART Consulting.
“All of the artworks in the show are incredibly strong and each of them deal with their varied subjects in such rich and critical ways. It’s heartening to see artists creating work of this calibre at this early point in their careers,” Herbert said.
“Winner Nina Sanadze has a very unique and refined practice, she’s created a strong visual language for her work and there is a lot to unpack in terms of the concepts behind this installation.”
The 2021 finalists are: Akil Ahamat, Tiyan Baker, Christopher Bassi, Leon Russell (Cameron) Black, Ohni Blu, Riana Head-Toussaint, Visaya Hoffie, Kait James, Alexa Malizon, Kyra Mancktelow, Ivy Minniecon, Nina Sanadze, Jayanto Tan, and Joanne Wheeler.
Their work can be seen in ‘the churchie’ finalists’ exhibition at the Institute of Modern Art until 18 December 2021.
Gallery visitors are invited to lodge their votes for the People’s Choice Award of $3,000 sponsored by Madison Cleaning Services, to be announced at the conclusion of the exhibition.Jump to next article