Wednesday, October 28, 2009

RBC Competition had "Most Difficult Jury Ever" - Q&A in today's National Post

One thing that's great about the increasing numbers of arts awards in Canada is they draw a lot of news attention to young artists. But these prizes can also be quite difficult to decide. Today the National Post published my Q&A with RBC 2009 juror John Kissick—and while Kissick thinks the award is doing a great job, he also admits that the jury was one of the most difficult group dynamics he had ever encountered (albeit with the caveat that getting nine art folks to agree on damn near anything can be a challenge). Here's an excerpt:

Q Though all the artists in this competition are Canadian, there's little of what we might call "identifiable Canadian content." Why?

A One thing that is pretty clear right now, with technology and art magazines being what they are, is that anything new and interesting in New York City on a Tuesday can be all over Toronto by Wednesday. The older notion of a regional group of painters all doing the same thing doesn't happen significantly anymore. Unless a painter is quoting from a national art history, the arena of discourse is big--it's global now.

Having said that, there are several artists who deal with issues of landscape, a form that is pretty entrenched in the Canadian psyche. Another thing that identifies Canadian artists is a tendency to articulate their practice in a way that doesn't happen as much in other countries. Because the art market is not great in Canada, artists are tied to granting organizations. The need to make an effective artist statement to justify one's practice is a huge issue. It's pretty hard to survive without being able to do that.

Overall, I think our nationality is now reflected in acceptance of a plurality of styles --and I think that is a very Canadian attitude.

Reader, if it's not apparent to you by now, I very much enjoy asking basic questions.

Image of RBC Canadian Painting Competition award winner Brenda Draney's Aim is Important 2009 from RBC

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wonder what all of the talented artists, who did not make the cut, think about the winning art concepts. How does this canonized conceptual art trend, characteristically that of each RBC winner for the last few years, influence or direct the bulk of Canadian artists? Do the winners really represent the best of Canada's cultural art makers? Should this grand decision be left up to a jury of artists? Perhaps a different body of judgers will produce something different something that says with clarity- this is the best work that Canadian artists have to offer.