OTTAWA’S NATIONAL ART GALLERY WELCOMES THE 19TH ANNUAL RBC CANADIAN PAINTING COMPETITION
Many would say, art is life.
Or close to it. Famed American artist Robert Motherwell once said, “Art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it.”
Veronika Pausova, Typography, 2017, Oil on canvas
Indeed art surrounds us and it envelopes us in a way that it is essentially part of our being. Art is, since time immemorial, also in a way a permanent recording of the past, the present and the future. As we go through different eras in history, art is the visual representation of what went through those times… “Art is the signature of civilizations” according to Jean Sibelius – a visceral memento of stories to tell… whether turbulent or enlightening or repressive or transformative.
Angela Teng, Line Dance (Pink and Black for Mary Heilmann), 2016
At the very core, art is the artist’s tangible expression of his or her own interpretation of many things: feelings, thoughts, vision, imagination and so much more.
But if art is subjective and is an expression of the artist’s vision, then how does one judge art?
We don’t know how exactly. But certainly, it’s one job we absolutely do not envy.
Teto Elsiddique, neckrings, a breezy thing, 2017, Acrylic on canvas
THE 19TH ANNUAL RBC CANADIAN PAINTING COMPETITION HIGHLIGHTS ART AS ALIVE AND WELL IN CANADA
One thing for sure is that it was a difficult job that was rightly delegated to an impassioned jury of renowned Canadian artists, expert curators and experienced art directors. They were given the task to select a national winner and two honourable mentions from the 15 finalists shortlisted to win one of Canada’s most prestigious art competition.
Such was the vibrant scene in Ottawa’s grandiose National Art Gallery, which was the aptly chosen venue to host the 2017 RBC Canadian Painting Competition. Well-attended by many patrons of the arts, the evening in the nation’s capital turned out to be more than just a celebration of the arts and the artists themselves but also a visual salute to diversity, creativity and innovation within our communities, values that RBC uphold and continuously support.
Laura Payne, Enneadec II, 2017, Acrylic on pane
If there’s one thing to take-away from the RBC-sponsored gala is that Canada has a strong and dynamic art scene. Put aside the evening’s affair of glitz and glamour, champagne and classical music and of course, the blue carpet (Red is so 2016! And of course because it’s RBC so it has to be blue!), is that the number of emerging talents across 10 provinces and 3 territories is immense and growing. And contrary to the notion that art is exclusive to the rich and the old, the fact is, art is very much alive, amongst all Canadians, millennials and all.
We, as a country, embrace art and its ideals as part and parcel of our communities and RBC lends a big hand of support to that endeavour. Created in 1999 in collaboration with Canadian Art, Canada’s most widely read art magazine, the RBC Canadian Painting Competition proves to be such a significant benefactor of the arts. How? Aside from the substantial funding granted to Canadian artists for almost 2 decades, RBC provides these emerging artists massive opportunities in terms of recognition and mentorship.
Tristan Unrau, Nun, After Pasolini, 2017, Oil on Canvas
Michael Freeman Badour, Patrick’s Boots, 2017, Oil on muslin
“For many artists, securing that first major opportunity in the art community is challenging, which is why the RBC Canadian Painting Competition is focused on helping emerging artists gain exposure for their work, as well as providing an opportunity for them to connect and engage with art professionals from across Canada.”
– Robin Anthony, Curator for RBC
The RBC Canadian Painting Competition is an established national platform, which serves as the cornerstone of RBC Emerging Artists Project. The program focuses on supporting artists at the early stage of their careers. On its 19th Anniversary, Ambera Wellmann of Guelph, Ontario won first place for her work Temper Ripened, 2017 (Oil on wood) and took home $25,000.
“I am so excited and honoured to be recognized among such extraordinary and talented artists. This competition creates truly valuable opportunities for artists to gain exposure on a national level, and connect personally with other emerging artists across Canada.”
– Ambera Wellmann, Winner of the 2017 RBC Canadian Painting Competition
Amber’s body of work, explored from a feminist’s perspective, aspire a sense of vulnerability over knowledge, and feeling over explanation. With hints of the grotesque and the occasional perverse erotics, it certainly provoked emotions, thoughts and at times, passionate debates.
Amber’s winning piece certainly embodies what Mary DePaoli, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for RBC said about art:
“Art can shake our core and challenge our perspectives… What starts out as a drop of paint on a blank canvas can be a catalyst towards rich discussion, contemplation…”
Laura Rokas-Berube, Finalist. Photo by Alan Wainwright Photography.
Veronika Pausova, Honourable Mention. Photo by Alan Wainwright Photography.
Temper Ripened, 2017 did precisely that. It moved something inside of you. It made you feel. It made you think. And sometimes, isn’t that what art is all about?
M.E. Sparks, Hollow Dog, 2017, Oil on canvas
CELEBRATING ART, DIVERSITY, CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION
Amongst fifteen finalists, two honourable mentions were also recognized andby three juries who convened for a two day deliberation (we told you it’s hard work!) and awarded $15,000 each by RBC: Teto Elsiddique from Halifax, Nova Scotia for his work neckrings, a breezy thing (Acrylic on Canvas), party inspired by the artist’s state of being in between as a “child of globalization” and Veronika Pausova of Toronto, Ontario for her work Typography (Oil on Canvas), which features spiders depicted as limp dancers – choreographed to either move in graceful strokes or yanked in submission by the puppeteers. Should there be a right answer depends solely on how you look at this particular work of art. Such is a risk an artist is willing to take.
Teto Elsiddique, Honourable Mention. Photo by Alan Wainwright Photography.
Laura Payne, Finalist. Photo by Alan Wainwright Photography.
After all, as Francis Coppola exclaimed:
“An essential element of any art is risk. If you don’t take a risk, then how are you going to make something really beautiful, that hasn’t been seen before?”
Joani Tremblay, The Lure of the Local Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society, 2017
RBC’S EMERGING ARTISTS PROGRAM PROVIDES VALUABLE RESOURCES TO NEW CANADIAN TALENTS
One thing’s for certain, these 2017 artists will hugely benefit from what the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, with the support of the Canadian Art Foundation, has been providing to over 250 artists before them – mentorship, professional development opportunities and financial support. These resources are so invaluable especially during a crucial stage of their careers. This will not only help them navigate their own path but will kick start their journey as young contemporary artists in such a massive way.
Laura Rokas-Bérubé, Paint by Number 7, 2017, Oil on canvas
Programs such as the RBC’s Emerging Artists seeks to inject vitality and diversity of new talent into Canada’s arts landscape. Alongside diversity is also inclusion as RBC and all its partners ensured a true representation of visual artists from across the country by choosing finalists from Eastern Canada (Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador), Central Canada (Ontario) and Western Canada (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut). Two of the finalists hailed from the Ottawa-Gatineau region: Kizi Spielmann Rose for Sun and a Tide Pool, 2017 and David Kaarsemaker, whose work, Portage 1, 2017, is inspired by a pedestrian well-known Government building Place du Portage in Hull.
David Kaarsemaker, Portage 1, 2017, Oil and acrylic on canvas
Cindy Ji Hye Kim, Conspiracy Theory, 2017, acrylic, ink, pastel and oil on canvas
“At RBC, we continue to reflect on the role of the RBC Canadian Painting Competition and the talented artists we’ve come to know through the program. In supporting emerging artists, it is always exciting to watch as new ideas are put forward, experimented with and considered.”
– Corrie Jackson, Associate Curator, RBC
Kizi Spielmann Rose, Sun and a Tide Pool, 2017.
The remaining 12 finalists also receive $2,500 each while all three paintings by Amber, Teto and Veronika will become permanent additions to RBC’s corporate art collection, which includes more than 4,500 works by Canadian artists over the past century.
Amanda Boulos, Duckie Wants Water, 2017, Oil on panel
ON DISPLAY AT THE NATIONAL ART GALLERY: THE 2017 RBC CANADIAN PAINTING COMPETITION FINALISTS
2017 RBC Canadian Painting Competition finalists
Cindy Ji Hye Kim
Kizi Spielmann Rose
Michael Freeman Badour
Finalists (L-R) Amanda Boules, Michael Freeman Badour, Wei Li. Photo by Alan Wainwright Photography.
Since all 15 finalists’ paintings are on view at The National Gallery of Canada until October 22, 2017, everyone really is a winner as this alone – the opportunity to exhibit their work on a national scale at the beginning of their careers – is a huge prize and recognition in and of itself.
Wei Li, Obsessiveness and excitement, never growing out of them, 2017.
THE 19TH ANNUAL RBC CANADIAN PAINTING COMPETITION HIGHLIGHTS ART AS ALIVE AND WELL IN CANADA
If you can’t make it to the national capital, you can still view all the work featured at the 2017 RBC Canadian Painting Competition online. We’ve featured all 15 artists here and you can also read more about the artist and their work by visiting RBC here and of course, at the National Art Gallery here. For photos of the gala and of course, the RBC Blue Carpet, check the photos below. You can also visit Twenty York Street on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram via @20YS.
As Marc Mayer, Director and CEO of the National Art Gallery of Canada stated, “The Annual RBC Canadian Painting Competition is further proof that the art of painting remains alive and well in Canada.” So go on, check out all 15 works of art and as you do so, try to echo the words of David Balzer, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher of Canadian Art, “Consider this an impetus to know more, to look more closely and to celebrate and support an array of emerging artistic talent in this country and beyond.”
Cindy Ji Hye Kim, Conspiracy Theory, 2017. Photo by Alan Wainwright Photography.
It was an honour for us to have been there to know more and learn more. To see all the paintings up close and very personal. Thank you and congratulations to all the artists.
Thank you RBC for 19 years and to 190 more years and counting.
Ambera Wellmann, Temper Ripened, 2017, Oil on wood
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Disclosure: This is a Twenty York Street sponsored post. All opinion and images are our own.