November 23, 2011

Pictures of people have a way of connecting with viewers. If you get a chance, make a connection with the ROM and check out the Kingston Prize exhibition. This show happens every two years and features the very best of Canadian portraiture and figurative work.

This biennial competition has high stakes. The Grand Prize is $20,000! Of the 451 artists submitting to this juried show, thirty finalists are chosen to be included in a touring exhibition.

I found that many works aspired to the conditions of photography—in other words, lots of amazing photorealism. Perhaps the best example is by Vancouver artist Brian Boulton. His diminutive graphite drawing titled Mikey@20.c (Chelsea Boots), is an astonishing, well-burnished “gem” that evacuates all evidence of the artist’s hand and his chosen medium. On the other hand, the works that strayed from the photographic sources really stood out in a positive way. The more exuberant works from T. Salzl and S. Hadzihasanovic conveyed a dynamic tension between traditional painting from life that was strangely contemporary.

Although the Grand Prize winner has been chosen (going to Kingston’s Michael Bayne), it’s not over ‘til it’s over. Don’t forget to cast a ballot to your fave for the People’s Choice Award–the winner will walk away with a “grand” in prize money. A must-see show!   

Brian Boulton's "I-can't-believe-it's-not-a-photo" drawing