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RBC Canadian Painting Competition


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  • Patrick Cruz. Time allergy, 2015.
    Patrick Cruz. Time allergy, 2015.

Iga Janik, Curator Contemporary Art | January 6, 2016

Painting isn’t dead. It never died and it never will. Debates over its fate plague art discourse, but after seeing an exceptional range of approaches and methods in this medium from emerging artists selected from across the country, I can tell you, painting is very much alive, and yes, it can still reinvent itself.

I’ve had the privilege, and great pleasure, of sitting on the jury for the RBC Canadian Painting Competition this year. It’s the largest award in painting this country has to offer, and the competition is dedicated exclusively to emerging artists. For this 17th annual RBC Canadian Painting Competition, 9 jury members (curators, artists, gallerists) were tasked with nominating 15 artists from over 600 submissions from across the country for a chance at the top award. We, the jury, then spent a week in Vancouver to debate, discuss and dissect our own knowledge of painting, contemporary art and materiality in order to select three works of art out of the 15 nominated paintings to represent painting in Canada in 2015.

This was not an easy task by any means.  The depth of intellectual rigor, critical discourse, debate, and diverse approaches set the stage for the jury decisions, and, after an exhausting and illuminating selection process I am very proud of the outcomes of the competition.  Patrick Cruz, currently in 2nd year of his MFA in Guelph, is the recipient of the top prize with honorable mentions going to Claire Scherzinger (Toronto, ON) and Hangama Amiri (a Canadian artist who is currently a Fulbright student at Yale University). I think it’s imperative to think of the top three artworks together as an indicator of where painting stands today and how it reflects its own history.  The winning paintings are decidedly not beautiful. Nor are they easy. This is not the purpose of art in a contemporary context. These works bring together a diverse approach to painting and recognize their place within the field of contemporary art. While the three winners can now say that their works are included in one of the best corporate collections in the country, I want to congratulate all 15 shortlisted for being brave and generous in their practice, and assure them that they are now all on the radar. I am personally looking forward to following their growing careers.

Here are the 15 Canadian artists you should be paying attention to right now.


For the list of latest, and all previous competitions please visit the RBC website.