2020 Plaskett and Petry Award Recipients

2020 Plaskett Award Winner – Azadeh Elmizadeh

Painter Azadeh Elmizadeh in her studio.
Photo credit: Greg McCarthy.

Azadeh Elmizadeh holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Communication and Graphic Design from the University of Tehran (2010) and a BFA from OCAD University (2016). In August 2020, she earned her Master’s of Fine Arts in Studio Art at the University of Guelph. Working between painting and collage, Elmizadeh draws on references from Persian miniature painting; her painting process relies on the slow layering of translucent glazes of oil paint to create a feeling of anticipation and temporal movement, a collage or assemblage of discontinuous intervals of here and there, now and then represented simultaneously.

From the onset, the jury was captivated by Elmizadeh’s masterful approach to constructing a painting that evokes luminosity through simplicity. In her works, they found a great balance between a sense of history, with a nod to color field paintings, and a desire to bring something fresh and new, thanks to an incredibly complex color palette that evaporates in fire and light, as well as hints of figures emerging from the painting surface. With her captivating work, strong artist statement and clear plan for her time in Europe, Elmizadeh gathered unanimous, enthusiastic support from all three jury members.

Elmizadeh plans to expand her understanding of the role of intercultural encounters in the shaping of the 20th-century Modernist abstraction, by studying alternative histories of Islamic art in cultural institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Islamic art museum in Germany, and by investigating masterpieces of oil painting in European museums. To her, painting is a space that bridges the gap between seemingly distant knowledges and cultures and an opportunity to engage in cross-cultural dialogues in a growingly diverse cultural landscape.

2020 Petry Award Winner – James Gardner

Painter James Gardner in his studio.
Photo credit: Daniel Esteban.

James Gardner holds a Bachelor’s Degree (2008) from the University of Guelph (Major in Studio Art & Minor in Art History) and recently completed a Master’s Degree in Painting and Drawing at Concordia University. Through his research on image agency, Gardner has been investigating the “Art of Memory” (A.O.M.) and its usage within the traditions of alchemy, magic and astrology. Using A.O.M. as the conceptual scaffold for his paintings, Gardner is exploring how images can be (re)activated and altered to produce new forms of knowledge and experience.

James Gardner’s strong knowledge of painting norms and conventions, along with his willingness to explore them with playful, complex constructions, caught the attention of the jury. They appreciated his inventiveness, combining the use of new technologies, interesting cage-like sculptural components, and references to ancestral painting traditions. In addition, the jury found Gardner’s plan to use the award well-researched, considerate and thoughtful; they expect that his time in Europe will definitely contribute to enriching his ongoing research.

Given that Art of Memory is of Greek origin, Gardner plans to begin his stay in Europe in Athens, to work closely with paintings made within that tradition. He plans to reach out to Athens’ Byzantine and Christian Museum to secure high-resolution images of monastic art for his own archive and to use as transfers in his paintings. He also plans to stay in Italy and in Ireland to continue his study of paintings made within the tradition of the Art of Memory and further develop his ideas about the intersection between “Western esotericism” and image making.