The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria recently announced that the sixth annual Tanabe Prize for British Columbia painters has been awarded to two artists: Rain Cabana-Boucher and Robert Burke.
The Tanabe Prize is an annual award given to artists whose primary medium is painting and who are residents of British Columbia. Rain Cabana-Boucher was chosen for the prize as an emerging artist and Robert Burke was chosen for the prize as a mid-career artist.
Rain Cabana-Boucher is a Michif/British settler interdisciplinary artist raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, treaty 6 territory. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria (2019). Rain’s practice explores autobiographical themes in relation to place and politics. She is a former Artist in Residence for the District of Saanich (2021) and has participated in solo and group exhibitions in Victoria and Vancouver. She is currently working on a new body of work under the recent awarding of the Individual Artist Grant from the First Peoples Cultural Council.
Regarding Cabana-Boucher’s selection for the Tanabe Prize, the committee said, “Rain Cabana-Boucher…creates mixed media paintings, marrying text and image in monochromatic schema with flashes of colour using acrylics, spray paint and charcoals, and other media like glass beads. The paintings contain gestural figurations; brushwork is heightened with controlled strokes, yet there is a presence of frenetic chaos, while some present wide expanses of raw canvas conveying a contemplative mood.”
Robert Burke was born in Fort Smith NWT in 1944 to a Metis mother; his father was a Black American soldier, who he did not know. At the age of four, Burke was sent to live at the St. Joseph Mission School. Burke worked as a logger, heavy duty mechanic and cedar contractor prior to attending the Victoria College of Art, at the age of 53 and graduating in 2000. Burke has lived on Vancouver Island for over 50 years. He has exhibited at both public and commercial galleries.
Of Burke’s work the selection committee said, “Robert Burke’s paintings express an energy of brilliant bold colours that defy the sombre memories and historical realities of Canada’s history, which he brings to the forefront of narrative. The colours and figures are freed from naturalistic formalities to convey the celebration of survival and resilience.”
Artists are selected for the Tanabe Prize by contemporary art curators who are connected to art museums and galleries in British Columbia. Selection is based on exceptional creativity coupled with a promise of future achievements.
The Tanabe Prize for BC Painters is a cash award in the amount of $15,000 and is administered by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.