The 2003 New Painting Competition at the Distillery Visitor Centre (55 Mill, Stables Building), to November 30. 416-866-8687. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
you might be forgiven for thinking spring was upon us last week. Not only were temperatures unseasonably warm, but a sense of renewal was felt in the gallery scene. In the Distillery District, Artcore 's huge new white-box gallery and the metal screen on the brick wall space of the Gibsone Jessop Gallery are in the finishing stages.
Even more exciting for those with an eye for the up-and-coming is the Royal Bank's 2003 New Painting Competition at the Distillery Visitor Centre .
A large group of competitors have been divided into three regions - Central (Ontario), Eastern (east of Ontario) and Western (west of Ontario). From each area juries have culled five finalists and crowned a winner, who receives a $5,000 purchase prize.
There is a wide body of work, but it's not so deep. There is some very strong work but a lot of less impressive output. Is this really the best they could find? The Eastern finalists are particularly weak, failing to hold their own against the other regions. Even winner Peter Dykhuis 's 12-panel radar painting doesn't have the stopping power of some of his other works.
The Western contestants are more impressive, particularly the winning piece by Chris Dorosz . He's laboriously applied staples, sparkles and paint onto a large canvas, creating a gorgeous textured and pixilated effect. The Western section is rounded out by a rich oil painting of a quiet palace room by Val Nelson and fun "bricks" by Cliff Eyland composed of cameras, computer mice and gaming controllers covered with thick layers of paint.
The Central finalists steal the scene. Pearl van Geest delivers a lipstick kissed canvas that's a romantic memory map of her hometown. Chris Rogers 's intense painting, resembling misshapen fireworks lighting a deep black sky, has been declared winner.
The prize could easily have been awarded to Martin Bennett 's checkered landscape, mixing abstract and representational techniques. Both Rogers and Bennett are real talents.