Toronto artist Shary Boyle wins Iskowitz prize

Multidisciplinary Toronto artist Shary Boyle, whose live-drawing work has been projected during concerts by musicians such as Feist and Peaches, has won the 2009 Gershon Iskowitz Prize.

Multidisciplinary Toronto artist Shary Boyle, whose live-drawing work has been projected during concerts by musicians such as Feist and Peaches, has won the 2009 Gershon Iskowitz Prize.

The $25,000 prize, awarded by the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Iskowitz Foundation, is given to aid the development of a promising Canadian artist.

Boyle, raised in Scarborough and a graduate of the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, started showing her work in underground galleries on Queen St. West in Toronto in the 1990s.

Recently, she has attracted attention for her hand-animated projections — which have accompanied performances by Feist, Jens Lekman, Will Oldham, Es and Christine Fellows — as well as for her intricate porcelain figurines.

Her work is multi-disciplinary, including drawing, painting, sculpture and performance and often exploring themes of gender, sex and violence.

Her live-drawing and performance pieces include A Night with Kramers Ergot for the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and Dark Hand and Lamplight, performed with musician Doug Paisley in Brooklyn and L.A. .

Boyle's works often incorporate contemporary takes on myths and archetypes, infused with a touch of the grotesque.

Her porcelain figurines, which are a stunning and sometimes disturbing fusion of the delicate and the grotesque, came out of Boyle's interest in the craft of porcelain lace-draping. She learned the technique by befriending and apprenticing with elderly women in Ontario who use the technique to create more traditional porcelain figurines.

Boyle's porcelain sculptures have been exhibited in solo shows at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in Waterloo, Ont.; Toronto's Power Plant; the Space Gallery in London, U.K., among others.

Two porcelain works — To Colonize the Moon and The Rejection of Pluto — were commissioned by the Art Gallery of Ontario and are exhibited in its permanent collection.

Boyle was a finalist this year for the Sobey Art Award, which was won by David Altmejd. She was also a semifinalist for the award in 2006.

AGO curator of contemporary art David Moos calls Boyle's work "singularly bold and original" and said she is starting to achieve international prominence.

Her work appears in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Paisley Museum of Art in Scotland and others. In Toronto, she is represented by Jessica Bradley Art+Projects gallery.

The Iskowitz Prize was established in 1985 by painter Gershon Iskowitz to raise the profile of visual arts in Canada.

Past winners include Mark Lewis, whose films are currently on display at the AGO, and Françoise Sullivan, who will have an AGO exhibit in February 2010.