Gatineau artists vie for top prize at national painting competition

Kizi Spielmann Rose and David Kaarsemaker are among the 15 finalists in the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, and you can see their work at the National Gallery of Canada.

David Kaarsemaker, Kizi Spielmann Rose among 15 finalists in prestigious art contest

National Gallery of canada curatorial assistant Danuta Sierhuis stands next to Kizi Spielmann Rose's work ahead of the RBC Canadian Painting Competition. (Alan Neal/CBC)

To say Kizi Spielmann Rose and David Kaarsemaker are in select company would be an understatement.

The Gatineau artists are among the 15 finalists of the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, and their work is being showcased at the National Gallery of Canada as part of an exhibition that launched Friday.

The winner of the $25,000 prize will be revealed Oct. 17, while two runners-up will each be awarded $15,000.

Kizi Spielmann Rose is one of two artists vying for top prize in the RBC Painting Competition. (Submitted)

The artists spoke to Alan Neal, host of CBC Radio's All in a Day, about their contrasting styles.

While Kaarsemaker makes his monochromatic paintings using a combination of abstracted cardboard models and projected images, Spielmann Rose employs a scratch technique reminiscent of childhood drawings that expose wax crayon colours from under a layer of oil pastel. 

"I did do that as a kid," said Spielmann Rose, "Then, a couple years ago, I was working as an artistic director at a camp doing things with kids and that was just one of the crafts we would do a lot. And so, as kids were doing it, I was also doing it — and then it just worked its way into the painting. 
RBC curator Corrie Jackson examines a work by Gatineau artist David Kaarsemaker. The piece is part of the RBC Canadian Painting Competition exhibition currently on at the National Gallery of Canada. (Alan Neal/CBC)

"The first line goes down the middle, curving, immediate line, not planned out. And then I work left and I work right. And one line just sort of follows the other. And in the end, you get this undulating field."

Inspired by Place du Portage 

Kaarsemaker told All In A Day that the architecture of the Place du Portage government buildings in Gatineau enters into his works, a result of weekend strolls inside when they're largely free of public servants. 
David Kaarsmaker is one of two artists from Gatineau who are up for the RBC Painting Competition. (Submitted)

"I find those brutalist towers in old Hull, you really feel that disconnect between the ambition and the ideals under which they were built and how they're experienced," Kaarsemaker said.

"Painting is a good language for that, too: there's the ability to create illusions and there's also the tangible, material conditions which stare you in the face." 

As in previous years, the top three paintings become permanent pieces in the RBC Corporate Art Collection.

The competition was launched in 1999 to "provide emerging Canadian artists with mentorship, exposure to national audiences, and financial support," according to a press release.

The exhibit runs until Oct. 22.