blackwhole

Michel de Broin's Black Whole Conference, made of chairs, was created in 2006. ((Sobey Art Award/Art Gallery of Nova Scotia))

Montreal artist Michel de Broin has won this year's$50,000 Sobey Art Award.

De Broin, 37, a sculptor whose large works have been displayed in Montreal, Toronto, Paris and Berlin, was named the 2007 winner Monday night at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax.

He was one of five finalists for theaward, given annually to a Canadian artist under 40 years of age.

De Broin's works include Revolutions, a huge metallic knot made of one of the exterior staircases endemic to Montreal and an amusement park roller coaster, which stands in Montreal's Parc Maisonneuve.

He also created Black Whole Conference, a spherical work reminiscent of Buckminster Fuller's geode, but made of chairs with their metal legs turned outward.

"The image of the imagined bodies each chair could accommodate evokes a cacophony of heads squeezed to the centre, or worse, one single giant omnipotent head," said Bernard Lamarche, a Rimouski, Quebec-based curator who wrote a commentary on the artist's works for the Sobey's competition.

De Broin studies mechanical, social, electrical and organic systems that are familiar to everyone and teases out their "pathological or authoritarian nature," Lamarche said.

The jury called hiswork "highly individual, inventive and original.

"Through paradox and inversion, he turns systems against themselves so as to make their invisible properties visible," the jury panel said.

De Broin studied at Concordia University and Université de Québec à Montréal, and now works in Berlin and Montreal. He is represented by Galerie Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain.

His work is owned by the National Gallery in Ottawa, Villa Merkel in Germany, Cirque du Soleil in Montreal and the Musée du Québec.

The other finalists were Shary Boyle of Toronto, Rachelle Viader Knowles of Regina, Ron Terada of Vancouver and Jean-Denis Boudreau of Fredericton.

TheSobey Art Foundation created Canada's largest award for young Canadian artists in 2002 and Scotiabank has been co-sponsoring the award since 2006.

Anexhibition featuring the five shortlisted artists is on display until Dec. 2 at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.