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News / October 17, 2017

Lunenberg-Born Artist Wins RBC Canadian Painting Competition

Top prize for the award is $25,000, with $15,000 each for two runners-up. The winner was announced at a ceremony this evening in Ottawa
Ambera Wellmann, <em>Temper Ripened</em>, 2017. Oil on linen, 38 inches by 35 inches. Ambera Wellmann, Temper Ripened, 2017. Oil on linen, 38 inches by 35 inches.

Lunenberg-born artist Ambera Wellmann has won the $25,000 top prize at the RBC Canadian Painting Competition.

The announcement was made this evening in a prize ceremony at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

Runners-up for the award are Teto Elsiddique, who has lived in Halifax and Toronto, among other locations, and Veronika Pausova, who is currently based in Toronto. Each of the runners-up will receive $15,000.

In her recent paintings—such as Temper Ripened (2017), which bested the competition—Ambera Wellmann has become known for investigation into porcelain as a vehicle for unexpected, occasionally perverse erotics.

“I prefer for a viewer to wonder if the perversities that they’re perceiving are put there by me or originate with them,” Wellmann has said.

Wellmann holds an MFA from the University of Guelph (2016) and a BFA from NSCAD University (2011). She was also a finalist in last year’s RBC Canadian Painting Competition.

Wellmann’s work emerges from an engagement with a diverse range of 19th-century figuration from the Western canon. She is interested in artists who conceptualized modes of realism as an engine of self-understanding and renewal during periods of rapid social and technological transformation. Exploring this tradition from a feminist perspective, her work embodies the experience of violence and eroticism that underlies realism.

“I always think paintings should be watched instead of looked at, so I try and slow things down to create moments inside the painting that can stagger easy moments of acknowledgement,” Wellmann has stated.

Teto Elsiddique’s competition painting was neckrings, a breezy thing (2017), while Veronika Pausova’s was Typography (2017). Elsiddique graduated from the MFA program at Yale University in 2016 following a BFA at NSCAD University; he was also a finalist in the 2014 RBC Canadian Painting Competition, and he recently exhibited at Abrons Art Center in New York. Pausova received her BFA from the Glasgow School of Art and her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University; she has described her work, recently recommended by the New Yorker, as “a kind of mathematical surrealism.”

The prize decision was made by a seven-person jury: Mireille Eagan, curator at the Rooms in St. John’s; Daisy Desrosiers, director of Battat Contemporary in Montreal; Frances Loeffler, curator at Oakville Galleries; Sky Glabush, an artist based in London; Michelle Jacques, chief curator at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; Joseph Tisiga, an artist based in Whitehorse; and Sascha Braunig, a Canadian artist based in Maine.

The winners and runners-up were selected from a pool of 15 finalists. Each of the remaining 12 finalists for the prize will receive $2,500. And the three winning paintings will be added to RBC’s art collection along with the winners of the previous 18 competitions.

The RBC Canadian Painting Competition, established in 1999, is produced in partnership with Canadian Art. The competition seeks to support and nurture the next generation of Canadian artists by providing them with a forum to display their talents to the country.

An exhibition of works by the winner, runners-up and finalists will continue at the National Gallery of Canada until October 22.

Teto Elsiddique, neckrings, a breezy thing, 2017. Acrylic on canvas, 60 inches by 48 inches.

Veronika Pausova, Typography, 2017. Oil on canvas, 20 inches by 18 inches.

This article was corrected on October 19, 2017. The original copy erroneously suggested that Teto Elsiddique has taught of late at NSCAD University. It has actually been a few years since he has taught through its school of extended studies. We regret the error.