Established in 1999, the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, with the support of the Canadian Art Foundation, is a unique initiative to help nurture and support promising new artists in the early stages of their careers; a time when they need both recognition and financial support.
A regional jury panel of distinguished members from the arts community select five paintings from their regions as follows: Eastern (Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador), Central (Ontario), Western Canada (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut).
The three jury panels then select one national winner and two honourable mentions from the 15 semi-finalists. The national winner receives a purchase prize of $25,000 and the two honourable mentions each receive $15,000.
The 2014 RBC Canadian Painting Competition is now open and submissions will be accepted until 5 pm (EST), May 6, 2014. The 15 finalists will be announced June 14, 2014 and the winners October 1, 2014 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal.
You are on: Winners 2013
You are on: Winners 2012
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You are on: Winners 2010
Betino Assa’s painting Gathering in the forest 12 am is from a series of works that feature ambiguous narratives within highly detailed settings. His dream-like environments combine the natural world and incongruous man-made elements such as furniture or industrial machinery. An accomplished draftsman, the artist uses a unique technique in which he paints on the reverse side of plexiglass which has first been engraved.
“I am attracted to the mystery of the unknown . . . the depths of fauna and flora untouched by humans,” Assa writes of his work. “The scenes I invent depict gatherings involving people and animals, as well as other human-like creatures or living forms, superimposed upon a classical landscape.”
Assa was born in Bulgaria and currently lives in Montreal where he is pursuing an MFA at Concordia University. He holds a BFA Honours from the University of Manitoba and received a BMO 1st! Award in 2009.
Gathering in the forest, 12 am
Acrylic on engraved plexiglass
32” x 49”
Through a process of dripping paint and layering, Ahbyah Baker creates loosely geometric, almost monochrome forms that float on simple backgrounds. Her combination of direct and indirect mark-making, imperfect geometric shapes that verge on the organic, and the very limited introduction of colour create a compelling tension. The use of gouache, traditionally used to prepare a surface before paint application, also lends a certain indeterminate quality to the work. It is her aim, she writes, to sidestep metaphorical associations and “to visually invoke romantic notions of time and space . . . simultaneously considering concepts of material literalism.”
Ahbyha Baker lives and works in Vancouver, where she completed a BFA at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.
Gouache on wood panel
16” x 16”
Thomas Chisholm’s work stems from his ongoing research into the perceptual effects of a painted space and the way it interacts with its physical environment. In the enamel on aluminum Interference 1 he employs industrial spray-paints used in the auto industry, allowing for a smooth reflective surface that highlights small inconsistencies. The high contrast between the work and its surroundings interferes with the viewer’s ability to decipher the space, and plays with our expectations. What appears at first as a solid black geometrical shape reveals itself to be much more complex, built up from transparent layers of blue and red.
“The pulsating or bruising out of the space alters a viewer’s original understanding of the work as a solid colour and forces a reinvestigation of the work.”
Thomas Chisholm received his BFA from NSCAD University and his MFA from the University of Victoria. He was a finalist in the 2011 RBC Canadian Painting Competition.
Enamel on aluminum
36” x 36”
Philip Delisle’s paintings make use of impossible perspectives, created through the amalgamation of many different views of a single space. By painting his own paintings, and placing them in their common settings—a studio, for example, or a gallery—he creates a kind of self-referential loop that points to the act of painting and spatial representation.
“I am motivated by a desire to explore what it means to paint, and to understand what it is that I do as an artist. This has led me to think about spaces where art is made and exhibited. I do not use my paintings to communicate my ideas about these spaces, but rather to discover what my own understandings are.”
Delisle completed a BFA at the University of Waterloo and an MFA at NSCAD University. He was the 2012 recipient of the Joseph Plaskett Award and is represented by Gallery Page and Strange.
NSCAD MFA Studio
Acrylic on canvas
65” x 72”
Working exclusively from his immediate environment, Colin Muir Dorward employs what he calls ‘a renegotiated paint-from-life methodology.’ Through manipulation of perceptual illusion, he draws attention to the viewer’s role in completing the compositions and represents what he refers to as ‘durations of lived experience.’ Multiple viewpoints of an interior space, including discontinuous views of what may be the artist’s own body, inhabit Grievance Calculator, whose complexity of spatial composition pulls the viewer’s gaze into the painting yet frustrates any single reading of the interior or objects depicted. The table, for example, which appears to tilt upwards, compositionally unifies the two halves of the painting yet also slyly covers the shift from one space to another.
Colin Muir Dorward completed a BFA at Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver and is pursuing an MFA at the University of Ottawa.
Oil on canvas
71” x 64”
Jordy Hamilton consistently seeks new strategies for the development of paintings, which function as one aspect of his multifaceted practice. In the Painting Painting series, works evolve from existing sources. Paintings might develop out of a mono print, the back of a failed painting or the effects left over from the making of another work. They are built up to a greater or lesser degree until something emerges, a figure, a trope or a field that bears weight. “My aim is to paint from zero or to let things emerge. These paintings reveal themselves to be as much about processes of work, chance and reconstitution as they are about the language of picture making.”
Hamilton completed a BFA with a minor in English literature between UBC and Emily Carr University of Art and Design and an MFA from UBC. He was a finalist in the 2012 Contemporary Art Society of Vancouver’s inaugural emerging artist’s prize.
Painting Painting 49 Hat to Block the Sun
Oil and acrylic on linen
60” x 48”
Interested in discovering new ways of creating paintings, Hardashnakov exhibits a wide range of techniques in his practice, his constant experimentation leading to abstract works that are formally disparate. Untitled 23 string piece 2 incorporates an approach to painting that emphasizes its objectness, privileging materiality and form over the application of paint. Its matte monochrome surface sprouts strings that protrude and hang down to rest on the canvas, resulting also in an element of chance—the painting may change as it is moved.
“Through constant, rigorous work and playful experimentation, I have uncovered new and original methods of creating paintings—methods that beget more possibilities and results in a seemingly endless chain of process.”
Aleksander Hardashnakov’s work was recently included in the group exhibition Trans/FORM at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. He is represented by Clint Roenisch Gallery and is a cofounder of Toronto-based Tomorrow Gallery.
untitled 23 string piece 2
Canvas, string and enamel on canvas
48” x 36”
David Hucal considers his paintings to be essentially works of fiction and is interested in the idea of the ‘trace’ of reality. His compositions originate in the observation of objects in his immediate environment and their subsequent translation, achieved through an independent process of mark making.
“The paintings change and are informed by their own making,” Hucal writes. “Relationships between light and dark, fiction and fact, space and non-space, the material and immaterial are explored so that one decision leads to the next. This process does not require a clear end, but is an investigation of both chance and decisiveness.”
David Hucal received his BFA from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver and is a recent graduate of the MFA program at Guelph University.
Oil on canvas
36” x 35”
Andrea Kastner’s painting Demolition shows, paradoxically, both the interior and exterior of a building, with the garbage it once held in front of it. It comes from a series of work that documents household garbage and looks at neglected, in-between spaces such as alleyways and basements. For her, examining the archaeology of these hidden realms is like a voyage into the secrets of the psyche. Kastner’s paintings represent, she says, “scenes of invasion,” depicting the detritus of our everyday lives and confronting us with images we try to hide.
“My work is concerned with images of excess. For me, these images draw a parallel to the feeling of being overwhelmed with the chaos of our own thoughts . . . These paintings focus on the sacred nature of rejected things.”
Andrea Kastner received a BFA from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick and an MFA in Painting from the University of Alberta.
Oil on canvas
72” x 60”
Katie Lyle’s White Night comes from a series of portraits showing close-ups of the female face. It is intimate in scale and cropped close to the frame allowing the surface to be divided graphically with a combination of soft highlights and rough paint application. The intensity of light and shadow is reminiscent of sculpture, coarsely lit video or low-resolution images, which are often sources for her work.
“The figure is the constant subject of my work because of its capacity to connect art, history, archetypes, family and everyday experience. My recent paintings focus less on cultural archetypes and more on images I filter on a daily basis. The gaze, the arch of an eyebrow, or the path of a nose can all be points or forms from which to generate an image.”
Katie Lyle holds a BFA from Concordia University in Montreal and an MFA from the University of Victoria.
Oil on canvas
16” x 12”
Vanessa Maltese is interested in the history of painting and its relationship to architectural form. By employing traditional elements such as line, colour, and primary form and through optical illusions and tonal play, her work suggests three-dimensionality on a two-dimensional plane. Balaclava uses colour and pattern to create optical effects but the surface pattern is broken with slightly irregular ‘windows’ that give a sense of three-dimensionality and lend a sculptural aspect to the work. The title cleverly suggests that these places where the surface is broken may be read as eyes.
“Making direct reference to the frame as both physical and metaphorical constraint, my work attempts to renegotiate the meaning of painting. My work acknowledges the limitations of traditional painting mechanisms through a contemporary lens.”
Vanessa Maltese holds a BFA in Drawing and Painting from OCAD University and is represented by Erin Stump Projects in Toronto.
Oil on panel
23” x 18”
Jenna Faye Powell’s artistic practice borrows elements from set design, photo tableaux and model railroading. She creates intricate miniature sets to aid in the construction of her painted compositions that depict a fictional city of her own invention. Her work questions the critical bias against suburbia, where she was raised. The combination of earth tones and neon colours, and a mixed technique that uses traditional glazing together with cold wax, both speak to the contradictions she addresses.
“The contemporary symbol of suburbia needs to be reevaluated,” she writes. “We must become attentive to the alternative world that is present in our realities, accessing the magical and the surreal to further illuminate hidden possibilities in what we may have deemed to be a deadened space.”
Jenna Faye Powell holds a BFA from the University of Western Ontario and recently completed an MFA at NSCAD University in Halifax.
The Ideology of the Sublime Wilderness II
Acrylic and oil on canvas
54” x 54”
Nicolas Ranellucci’s Si je tue un canard, je te donnerai les plus belles plumes [If I kill a duck, I will give you the most beautiful feathers] is from a series of work that considers occult phenomena and their relationship with the often hermetic, even cryptic, nature of painting. He is interested in painting as ritual, a ritual in which the artist operates within certain conventions of a symbolic nature. Collage-like in appearance, his painting presents a stage-like scene that is at once foreign and strangely familiar, its vivid, theatrical colours in sharp relief against a dark ground. The disguised figure may represent the artist as illusionist, alchemist or magician.
Nicolas Ranellucci holds a BFA in visual and media arts from the Université du Québec à Montréal, where he received a McAbbie Foundation award for excellence in painting. He lives and works in Montreal and is represented by Galerie Dominique Bouffard.
Si je tue un canard, je te donnerai les plus belles plumes.
Acrylic on canvas
60” x 60”
“The motivation behind the Housefire series is my interest in images posted on the internet as well my desire to create a visual metaphor for the widespread collapse of the middle class,” Tetz writes of her painting. “My work varies from imagined figuration to a painterly version of photorealism.”
In Housefire 3, the shaped panel is intended to evoke the picturesque, while the purple haze around the fire is a nod to the digital origin of the source image. A tension is set up between the banality of the web-sourced imagery and the preciousness that this format suggests. Tetz explores here the aestheticization of disaster on an intimate scale, the raging fire seeming to open up a void in her finely detailed miniature tableau.
Corri-Lynn Tetz received a BFA from Emily Carr University in Vancouver and is currently enrolled in the MFA program at Concordia University in Montreal.
Oil on panel
16” x 26”
Julie Trudel notes that in abstract painting, colour is often considered in isolation, separate from materiality. Her complex colour explorations are both optical and material. Restricting her palette to the printing process colours cyan, magenta, yellow and black (better known by the acronym CMYK) and using heavily diluted industrial silkscreen inks, she applies her paint drop by drop in a concentric spiral motif. The resulting compositions put equal emphasis on surface and depth.
“Although my work protocol is precisely defined, it allows room for chance,” she says. “By working in this way, I wish to tap into the perceptual complexity generated by the painting, which draws us in by its visual impact, its quality as an object and its obvious, yet puzzling, production process.”
Julie Trudel lives and works in Montreal, where she recently completed an MFA at the Université du Québec à Montréal.
Ellipses en transit MCY et CMY, du projet CMYK
Acrylic and ink silkscreen on plywood
64” x 29”
Rebecca Brewer is interested in the depiction of the static figure, but not within the idiom of portraiture. Beuys painting takes as subject “the oft mythologized figure of Joseph Beuys, delineated by little more than a hat, his felt and fat crushed and segmented, his old cans and neutral tones conflated with the Cubist bottles of Braque and Morandi.” While widely differing painterly cues are found in her work, she approaches them as an aesthetic continuum rather than opposing mythologies. Recently, she has utilized an exaggerated wet-in-wet paint application, with incised textures showing a literal cutting into flat grounds. “Precisely because criticality and figuration have been seen as discordant in the past 30 years of painting,” she says, “there is exciting territory to be covered.”
Rebecca Brewer has a BFA from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, and is currently an MFA candidate at Bard College in New York.
Oil on Canvas
42" x 47"
Beth Stuart’s paintings rest uneasily between the languages of representation and abstraction. Her motifs and compositions emerge from research into early feminist art criticism, painting and sculpture as well as surrealist philosophy and are influenced by past figurative work and training in textile arts. “These avenues of research have led to the development of a visual vocabulary that talks about living inside a body, with all it’s awkwardness, non-linearity, confusing encounters, hilarity and difficulty. Rather than symbolically or mimetically representing bodies in space, these works function instead like portraits of sensations, personalities, and mannerisms.” Painting 02 from the Doppelbanger series is reminiscent of surrealist painting and is ambiguous in both the forms it depicts and its form as an object—neither completely rectangular nor completely flat.
Beth Stuart received a BFA from Concordia University, held a residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts, and holds a MFA from the University of Guelph.
02, from Doppelbanger series
Oil and acrylic on linen on panel
40" x 40"
The chromatic fades, simple graphic shapes, and pattern repetition in Deirdre McAdams’s work refer to basic aspects of digital art-making, but the presence of gesture in the construction of the paintings represents faithfulness to the distinct physical qualities and possibilities of paint. She is interested in the pictorial tension that arises out of dualities or oppositions in a composition: hard edges against gestural marks, misaligned patterns, repeated/ inverted colours and shapes, or single forms made up of many smaller forms. The use of spray paint allows her to either emphasize or remove gesture. “The works reference digital art but are determinedly handmade in appearance. I am interested in approaching abstraction with a digitally influenced visual vocabulary, but am committed to experimenting with the materials and process of painting.”
Deirdre McAdams received a Diploma of Fine Arts from the Victoria College of Art, and a BFA from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design.
Spray paint on canvas
48" x 42"
Isolation, violence, childhood, illness and the search for happiness, artificiality and solitude are common themes in Alexis Lavoie’s work, but are often treated indirectly. While his paintings leave a vague impression of loss or rupture, they evoke an atmosphere rather than depicting a concrete event. They depict, rather, scenes that retain a trace or impression of a seemingly traumatic past event. Restants, for example, seems to show the remains of a playground trauma in an ambiguous space. He is interested in this zone of uncertainty and seeks, through the act of painting, an intuitive and critical understanding of his surroundings. He is fascinated, he says, by the instability of painting as a medium, a material instability that can bring surprising results, influencing the subject matter at hand by infusing it with new and unexpected elements.
Alexis Lavoie studied visual arts at CEGEP de Saint-Laurent in Montreal and received a BFA in visual and media arts from UQAM.
Oil on canvas
66" x 72"
Jon Reed is trained as an architect and his paintings maintain a desire for precision and a concentration on craft. Meticulous under drawing and multiple thin layers of paint result in flat representations of a precisely rendered space or object. Of his painting he writes, “I’ve been examining the personal manifestation of male identity through the erection of monuments and the creation of space. I’ve become interested in the period of Architectural history that follows the collapse of the modernist utopian vision in which figures like Robert Venturi, Phillip Johnson, Paul Rudolph and others found it necessary to assert their architectural individuality and stylistic autonomy through the rhetorical treatment of modernist tropes. My selective and idealized depictions of their architectural legacy are intended to represent and question personal expressions of masculinity, creative control, authorship and orientation.”
Jon Reed holds a Master of Architecture from the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto and an Honours BA from Victoria College, University of Toronto.
Stato di Impotenza
Acrylic on Canvas
36" x 48"
Mark Stebbins’ work stems from a dual interest in traditional craft textile practices and contemporary electronic media. He is particularly interested in the effects on information when it is converted from one medium to another and the inherent instability of recorded information. Opting for an organic and labour-intensive method of construction rather than a computerized, rigid process, his images depict a tension between data accumulation and degradation. Densely patterned and fragmented disc-like forms occur throughout while representations of various media — hand-crafted textiles, digital pixel matrices and caricatured paint strokes — freely interweave and mutate. “In each work I strive to create a visual sense of information overload, an experience analogous to life in our present-day, data-rich world.”
Mark Stebbins holds a BFA with distinction from the University of Western Ontario and an LLB from the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, Halifax. In 2009, he was named Nova Scotia Emerging Artist of the Year and received the Halifax Mayor's Award of Distinction in Contemporary Visual Arts. At the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition in 2010 he was awarded Best in Show.
Acrylic on Wood Panel
16" x 16"
Brenda Draney is interested in how memory, which is by its nature personal, operates in families, communities and cultures. While her paintings source her own memories, she is less concerned with documenting a memory as she is with the process of remembering and getting her hand to remember. She sees her work as a gesture toward a remembered thing, person or event and hopes that the viewer will be willing to do the work of connecting images to create the story around the moments, elements and omissions. The space in the canvas is important, she says, whether it is about what is forgotten, kept secret or filled in by a viewer. "Narrative is based on what is missing, and that absence is important and present in my work."
Brenda Draney holds a BA in English Literature and a BFA from the University of Alberta, and a Master of Applied Arts degree from Emily Carr University of Art and Design.
Aim is Important
Oil on canvas
48" x 52"
Martin Golland's paintings evoke sensation, discovery and disorientation through the use of architectural spaces that appear improvised, overlooked or cobbled together. Emptied of all figures, his scenes nonetheless leave traces of hidden, ritual activity in what appear to be transitory or transitional spaces. His intent, he explains, is to mark out a range of sippage between the imagined and the real. "By using a collection of painting strategies that compete and undermine each other, the existing transitory zones act as a metaphor for the gractured phenomenon of perception," he writes. "Disjunctive shifts of space encourage the mind's sway between reverie and dread."
Martin Golland received his BFA from Concordia University in Montreal, and his MFA from the University of Guelph. He has exhibited his work across Canada and in Europe and currently teaches painting at the University of Ottawa.
Residential Night Vulture
Oil on canvas
60" x 50"
Sasha Pierce's meticulously constructed canvases bear an uncanny resemblance to the textures of fabrics. Experimenting with colour, composition and texture, she uses oil paint to evoke the tactility of textiles in works that recall hand-made knits. The inherent physicality of her medium, and its fluidity, allow for the close juxtoposition of thin channels of paint that read like threads or strands of wool, so that her abstract works hint at representation with an almost trompe-l'oeil effect. And while her labour-intensive compositions place her work in the tradition of 20th century abstraction, her paintings may also be seen as a clever nod to the proliferation of sewing, stitching, and knitting in contemporary art in recent years.
Sasha Pierce received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Guelph, and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Waterloo and currently lives and works in Toronto.
Oil on canvas
24" x 20"