The Canadian Painting Competition 2004—
Helping Canadian visual artists paint their own picture of success

An event as big and as well-received as the RBC Investments Canadian Painting Competition only happens as a result of extensive planning, hard work and vision on the part of many talented individuals.

Following the competition, many artists—winners and finalists alike—have signed with prestigious Canadian galleries for representation, exhibited in public galleries and museums, received international attention, and been purchased for private and corporate collections.


True to form, the 2004 competition was a resounding success. Year after year, the quality of entries received vividly illustrates the exceptional skill of Canada’s up and coming artists.

The 15 semi-finalists had their work exhibited in The Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta; New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, New Brunswick; McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton, Ontario; and Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto, Ontario.

The National winner and two honourable mentions were:

  Central Canada – National winner
Dionne Simpson, Toronto, ON




  Western Canada – Honourable mention
Brand Phillips, Vancouver, BC




  Eastern Canada – Honourable mention
Laurel Smith, Montreal, Qc

Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto, Ontario

Starting from left to right:
Gordon Laurin (Juror), Robin Anthony (Curator, RBC Financial Group), Jaime Harper (Metro Toronto Regional Vice President, RBC Financial Planning), Melony Ward (Executive Director, Canadian Art Foundation), Brad Phillips, Kent Archer (Juror), Laurel Smith, Dionne Simpson, Father Daniel Donovan (Juror), Olga Korper (Juror)

2004 Pictures of this year’s competition

Western Canada, Edmonton, AB

Monique Blom
Saskatoon, Sk

John Eilser
Calgary, AB

Mark Mullin
Calgary, AB

Jim Park
Vancouver, BC

The Edmonton Art Gallery

Starting from left to right:
Riko Nakasone (Juror), Mark Mullin, John Eisler, Jim Park, Monique Blom, Brad Phillips, Jane Ask Poitras (Juror), Kent Archer (Juror), Tony Lippino (Executive Director, The Edmonton Art Gallery), Cal Malhiot (Edmonton Branch Manager and Vice-President, RBC Dominion Securities Inc.)

Eastern Canada, Saint John, NB

Adele Chong
Montreal, QC

Jennifer Dorner
Halifax, NS

Patrick Lundeen
Halifax, NS

Andrea Mortson
Sackville, NB

Laurel Smith
Montreal, QC

New Brunswick Museum

Starting from left to right:
Gemey Kelly (Juror), Pierre Dorion (Juror), Melony Ward (Executive Director, Canadian Art Foundation), Gordon Laurin (Juror)

Starting from left to right on the bottom row:
Laurel Smith, Jennifer Dorner, Adele Chong, Andrea Mortson Starting from left to right on the top row:
Robin Anthony (Curator, RBC Financial Group), Tom Gribbons (Saint John Branch Manager and Vice President, RBC Dominion Securities Inc.), Melony Ward (Executive Director, Canadian Art Foundation)

Central Canada, Hamilton, Ontario

Alexander Irving
Toronto, Ontario

Andrew Morrow
Toronto, Ontario

Shaan Syed
Toronto, Ontario

Soheila Esfahani
Kitchener, Ontario

McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton, Ontario

Starting from left to right:
Jan Allen (Juror), Will Gorlitz (Juror), Soheila Esfahani, Shaan Syed, Dionne Simpson, Andrew Morrow, Olga Korper (Juror), Alexander Irving

To view the winning artwork from past competitions, select from the categories below.

Select the year:2003  2002  2001
Select the region:

Peter Dykhuis
Bedford, Nova Scotia
Radar Paintings/Series 3, 2003
48” x 48”
Encaustic, enamel on 12 panels

Radar Paintings/Series 3 is developed from several images of precipitation patterns recorded at a weather station located in Halifax. The satellite point of view maps out territory and weather patterns and becomes the subject matter that encapsulates how landscape can be represented in a digitally constructed, connected, and scrutinized world.


  • Jocelyne Aumont—owner and director, Galerie Trois Points
    Montreal, Quebec
  • Ingrid Jenkner—curator, Mount St. Vincent Gallery
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Jeffery Spalding—director and chief curator, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
    Halifax, Nova Scotia

Chris Dorosz
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Screen 2, 2003
48” x 72”
Industrial staples, sparkles, acrylic/gel medium on canvas

Chris uses paint as a metaphor to the physical world pushing towards virtual reality. On canvas, he mimics a screen monitor through the grid work of industrial staples and various paint mediums. Screen 2 depicts the idea of “slowing down” the “quickness” of monitor imagery.


  • Bob Boyer—artist; department head, Indian Fine Arts,
    First Nations University of Canada
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
  • Wanda Koop—artist
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Paul Kuhn—director, Paul Kuhn Gallery
    Calgary, Alberta

Chris Rogers
Toronto, Ontario
Untitled, 2002
60” x 72”
Oil on canvas

Chris explores light and psychedelia generated from natural and artificial sources. He uses found and original photographs as a source for large abstraction that may also appear representational.


  • Robin Metcalfe—curator, Museum London
    London, Ontario
  • Sarah Milroy—visual arts critic, the Globe and Mail
    Toronto, Ontario
  • Kim Moodie—artist and instructor, University of Western Ontario
    London, Ontario
  • Joanne Tod—artist
    Toronto, Ontario

35.5" x 29.5" / Oil on mahogany panel

DENNIS EKSTEDT > Montreal, Quebec

Dennis Ekstedt says it was a “confidence booster” to win the New Canadian Painting Competition in 2002 for his original work entitled “Fringe.” Ekstedt was the Eastern Canadian winner for his large-scale oil painting on mahogany panel. His work is now part of the RBC Art Collection. Ekstedt says that winning the award has “helped increase his visibility as an artist and he has been recognized and acknowledged by people in the visual arts milieu.” The publicity surrounding the award has generated interest in his work, which explores light and the illumination of cities. The interest has resulted in his paintings being included in corporate collections such as the Hydro-Quebec and the Gilden collections. He says the award is valuable to emerging artists in terms of personal validation. Galerie Art Mur currently represents Ekstedt.

42" x 46" / Oil on canvas

CHRIS BENNETT > Calgary, Alberta

Chris Bennett, the Western Canada winner of the 2002 New Canadian Painting Competition, says the award is “important because it assists emerging artists at the early stage of their careers.” Bennett, who won the prize for his original work entitled, Big and Small, says the financial aspect of the award has allowed him to “dedicate more time in the studio, which is essential to create a body of work.” Even more importantly, the award provided tremendous recognition and the opportunity to have his work appear in Canadian Art Magazine, a widely read and respected publication. Since his painting was reproduced and printed in the national magazine, several galleries have approached Bennett. He is currently showing his paintings, which are based on abstraction and photography, in a solo exhibition at the Paul Kuhn Gallery in Calgary. He plans to exhibit his work next year at the Medicine Hat Museum and Art Gallery and is working on a show in an artist run space in London, England.

3' x 4' / Oil on silk brocade

JJ LEE > Toronto, Ontario

Toronto artist J.J. Lee won the 2002 New Canadian Painting Competition for her original work entitled “Papaya.” The winner for Central Canada says she was elated when she was awarded the prize. “I especially enjoyed meeting the other finalists and found that the other artists were interesting, professional and great people all around,” Lee says. Following the competition, the exposure in Canadian Art Magazine was extremely important to Lee because it enabled the art community to see a full colour reproduction of her winning work, an oil painting on Chinese silk brocade. Lee is of Asian descent and has lived in Halifax, Vancouver and Toronto. Her painting explores the crossing of cultures in terms of race, place and gender. She is currently represented by Angell Gallery in Toronto.

8" x 10" / Oil and Metallic Paint on Canvas

ÉRIC LE MÉNÉDEU > Montréal, Quebec

Montréal’s Eric Le Ménédeu, Eastern Canada’s 2001 winner, views winning the contest as a very positive, career boosting experience which facilitated his entry into the commercial art world, both in terms of gallery representation and the purchase of several of his works. It also enabled him to access the artistic community across Canada and helped him to establish valuable contacts in the art world, through the assistance of the Canadian Art Foundation. Eric feels strongly that competitions and awards of this nature help foster much needed confidence and direction for emerging artists. After winning the award, he sold several works to Gallery 21 in Halifax and has a current show at the Forest City Gallery in London, Ontario.

40" x 48" / Oil on Canvas

BEN REEVES > Vancouver, British Columbia

Western Canada’s 2001 winner, Ben Reeves, experienced a “huge boost” after winning the award and believes it contributed to his winning placement as this year’s artist in residence at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture. In addition, it brought him continued attention in artistic and academic circles and believes that whenever he applies for any position in the art world, having won the RBC 2001 competition invariably holds him in good stead. Subsequent to winning the RBC award, Ben received wide coverage in art magazines and was asked to donate works for the Art Gallery Hop Auction in autumn 2002, sponsored by Canadian Art Magazine.

Ben found the prize money to be very helpful in continuing his painting but more than that was the recognition it brought him and his works. Andy Sylvester, director of the Equinox Gallery in Vancouver who showed Ben’s paintings in June, views Ben’s winning the award as an extremely beneficial factor to the artist’s career and reputation, in addition to that of the gallery. He also stresses the value and need of the private and corporate sector to become more involved in the development and patronage of arts and the views the Royal Bank of Canada competition as “paving the way.”

54" x 46.5" / Oil on Canvas - diptych

REGINA WILLIAMS > Barrie, Ontario

Barrie, Ontario’s Regina Williams, winner of the 2001 RBC Private Counsel’s New Canadian Painting Competition award representing Central Canada, thought winning the award was not only “a great personal high,” but felt it was of paramount importance to Canadian emerging artists. With so few competitions and awards such as RBC’s New Canadian Painting Competition in existence, she welcomed the prestige and widespread recognition that the award and subsequent publicity in Canadian Art magazine offered. She stresses the need for more of their kind, as new, undiscovered talent have so little assistance from the community at large. Regina had several eminent galleries approach her after winning the award and is now represented by the Roberts Gallery in Toronto where she had an exhibition running this summer. is operated by Royal Bank of Canada.