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3 Concordians among finalists for RBC’s 2018 Canadian Painting Competition

Graduates Karine Fréchette and Joani Tremblay and student Lauren Pelc-McArthur are in the running for the $25,000 prize and residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts
August 29, 2018
By Molly Hamilton

The RBC Canadian Painting Competition has encouraged some 250 emerging Canadian artists over the past two decades through mentorships, financial support and national recognition.

With the support of the Canadian Art Foundation, the annual program selects 15 finalists out of 500 submissions. The year’s winner will take home $25,000. Two honourable mentions will receive $15,000 each and the 12 remaining finalists $2,500 each.

In 2018, the 20th year of the competition, the winner will benefit from an additional grand prize: a residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta. The centre is recognized as a global leader in the development and promotion of creative work in the arts.

For a second year in a row, three Concordians have been chosen as finalists. They are Lauren Pelc-McArthur, an MFA student in the Department of Studio Arts, Karine Frechette, MFA (studio arts) 17, and Joani Tremblay, MFA (studio arts) 17.

The RBC Canadian Painting Competition winners will be announced in Toronto on September 18, 2018.

Lauren Pelc-McArthur Lauren Pelc-McArthur is a student in Concordia’s MFA in studio arts program. | Photo: Courtesy of RBC

Lauren Pelc-McArthur

Toronto native Lauren Pelc-McArthur expects to graduate from Concordia’s MFA in studio arts program in 2019. She earned a BFA from the Ontario College of Art and Design University in 2012.

“It’s a really interesting cohort because there’s so many of us,” Pelc-McArthur says of her studio arts classmates. “It creates microcosmic art communities within the master’s program. I think that is a really beneficial aspect of this program.”

She was first interested in art at a very young age. “My first forays in art were through computers and screens,” she says. “That’s ingrained into my head when I’m making paintings. A lot of components in my paintings reference relationships between technological and natural systems.”

Pelc-McArthur’s work incorporates texture, colour and various motifs to capture the audience’s attention.

“I use a lot of bright, bright colours that are not really commonly associated with our natural world,” she says. “These colours both entice and repel, much like the feelings of captivation and disinterest born from staring at a bright screen with thousands of images scrolling past.”

All of this is very clearly shown in her painting, Trop, which earned Pelc-McArthur a place among the 15 finalists.

“I aim to express conflicts of meaning and respond to the positive and negative consequences of our online image-driven culture,” says Pelc-McArthur. “The ways we respond to and produce paintings are changing. Technologies grant us an infinite amount of information but in that, much of the clarity is lost.”

Trop by Lauren Pelc-McArthur Trop by Lauren Pelc-McArthur. She says her work depicts “visualisation overload and disorder in an image-driven world.”

Karine Fréchette, MFA 17 Karine Fréchette says it is already a win for her to be one of the 15 finalists for this year’s RBC Canadian Painting Competition. | Courtesy of RBC

Karine Fréchette, MFA 17

Karine Fréchette’s work also explores aspects of modern technology. However, the subject of her art focuses more on what’s going on behind the screen, such as electricity, light waves and Wi-Fi.

“I’m really interested in light and space,” Fréchette says. “I always like to think of the way I display work in the space, the way I use space on a canvas or the way things interact between each other.”

All of her interests and inspirations come together to create abstract and psychedelic paintings. “In my paintings, the alteration of perception is itself a subject,” she says.

Croissance 1, the painting that placed her on the list of finalists for this year’s competition, is no different. “I was imagining growth, but growth you can’t really name, like something unreal,” she says. “The painting has a lot of movement and light, which creates this optical impact.”

Fréchette, born and raised in Montreal, holds a BFA from Université du Québec à Montreal (UQÀM) and earned her MFA at Concordia in 2017.

“The questions and the conversations we’d have during our seminars were really helpful,” she says of her MFA studies. “I learned a lot during the two years. It was very, very, helpful.”

No matter the competition’s outcome, Fréchette feels honoured to have been chosen one of the finalists. “It’s super exciting! It’s a huge thing and it’s super well publicized,” she says. “Just to be a finalist is already the prize.”

Croissance 1 by Karine Fréchette Croissance 1 by Karine Fréchette. Her art work illustrates Fréchette’s use of experimental measurement tools, abstract painting traditions and contemporary psychedelic aesthetics.

Joani Tremblay, MFA 17 This is Joani Tremblay’s second time as a finalist in the RBC Canadian Painting Competition. | Photo: Courtesy of RBC

Joani Tremblay, MFA 17

This is Montrealer Joani Tremblay’s second appearance in two years on the list of the RBC Canadian Painting Competition finalists.

“It feels great to be a finalist again,” she says. “I was even more excited when we finally received the full list of finalists because there were so many friends on the list.”

After completing a bachelor’s degree in visual arts at UQÀM, Tremblay earned her MFA from Concordia in 2017.

“It was the overall experience and having the chance to have many studio visits with different professors that was the most important. François Morelli and Patrick Traer were really inspiring,” she says of two painting and drawing professors.

Since graduating, Tremblay has been busy with a number of group and solo exhibitions and an art residency at Residency Eastside International in Los Angeles, Calif.

““The work for my recent solo exhibition in Toronto at Zalucky Contemporary was inspired by the travelling I did during the residency in L.A. this year,” she says. “I did research on foot in the Joshua Tree National Park which became an inspiration for the work.”

Tremblay’s art mainly focuses on place and landscape. “I do travel quite a bit and go to different national parks or cities like Paris, and draw inspiration from that,” Tremblay says.

“I also create different simulations and reproductions of landscapes and places that can be found on the internet, and then it’s all put together into a digital collage. Which is then transformed into oil paintings and sculptures.”

Joani Tremblay’s painting selected for the RBC competition, The Mind at Three Miles an Hour, reflects her goal to investigate “the relationship between landscape, its simulations and reproductions, and how it is combined with our own memory of places.” 

Tremblay is keeping busy with a variety of group and solo exhibitions in the works. “A solo exhibition in Toronto at Zalucky Contemporary just closed in July as well as a group exhibition at Dateline Gallery in Denver. I will also be exhibiting some pieces at Art Toronto in October with Zalucky Contemporary” she says.

The Mind at Three Miles an Hour by Joani Tremblay The Mind at Three Miles an Hour by Joani Tremblay. Her paintings are inspired by Tremblay’s travels as well as landscapes she’s found online.

The winners and runner ups of the 2018 RBC Canadian Painting Competition will be announced at the Power Plant in Toronto on September 18, 2018.

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