Kate Groobey becomes the first woman to scoop the Daiwa Foundation Art Prize

Kate Groobey has been announced as the winner of the Daiwa Foundation Art Prize 2018, the first woman to win the coveted accolade since it was established in 1988. Kate will now be invited to exhibit at Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo, Japan this autumn, as part of her prize.

Kate’s paintings are triggered by an interaction or shared moment. They portray her relationships with the people she encounters, both familiar and new. As such, the works have a strong personal narrative but also convey social stereotypes and emotions or states that everyone can relate to, like the state of Pure Pleasure, the title of the artist’s recent watercolour series. Kate also performs as the characters in her paintings, bringing them to life with a series of improvised vignettes, for which she makes the costumes, backdrops and music.

Speaking of the inspiration behind her Pure Pleasure series, she said: "At LACMA, I stood looking at a Picasso painting called Man and Woman where the male figure is pointing a knife at the woman's vagina, when a male security guard (laughing) said, 'Picasso was a pig!'

"That encounter stuck with me and, as I started to make my Pure Pleasure paintings, I turned my attention to an unexplored perspective in the history of painting, that of a woman painting her female lover, woman on woman, with a desiring female gaze. I realised that when we see a female figure in a painting we are only used to seeing the desiring male gaze or self-portraits."

The 2018 Prize was presented at a private awards ceremony last night, by a distinguished selection panel: Richard Cork, Art Critic; Mami Kataoka, Chief Curator, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Sueo Mizuma, Director, Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo; Julian Opie, Artist, and Jonathan Watkins, Director, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham.

"The originality of Kate Groobey’s work is clear to see – it is dynamic, refreshing, life-enhancing even," says Jonathan Watkins of Ikon. "She weaves subtle cultural references into her paintings and vignettes so delicately. I have no doubt that she will benefit enormously from exhibiting, and gaining exposure in Japan."

New bodies of work by the three shortlisted artists, Kate Groobey, Keith Milow and Mark Neville are currently exhibited at Daiwa Foundation Japan House as part of the Daiwa Foundation Art Prize exhibition 2018, which continues until 13 July 2018.

Previous recipients of the Daiwa Foundation Art Prize include Marcus Coates, who was awarded the Prize in 2009 with a resulting solo exhibition at Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, as well as Haroon Mirza in 2012, whose solo exhibition was held at Scai The Bathhouse, Tokyo and Oliver Beer in 2015. Find out more at: dajf.org.uk.


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