Home » News: Jeremy Hof wins RBC Painting Competition

News: Jeremy Hof wins RBC Painting Competition

Vancouver painter Jeremy Hof has won the 10th annual RBC Painting competition for his work entitled layer painting red.

Jeremy Hof, layer painting red, 2008. Image: courtesy RBC.

Amanda Reeves of Oakville and (VoCA favorite) Wil Murray of Montreal were revealed as honourable mentions for their work Untitled 08 2008 and Sexe Maniac Maniac Maniac Maniac Maniac.

Wil Murray, Why Are You Looking Up Here The Joke Is In Your Hand, 2007. Image: belkin.ubc.ca

The winners were chosen from more than 1,200 works, submitted by more than 600 artists across the country. The national winner, Jeremy Hof, received a $25,000 prize with honourable mentions Amanda Reeves and Wil Murray each receiving a $15,000 prize. As part of the tenth anniversary celebrations, the additional 12 semi-finalists also each received a prize of $7,500.

Read more and see the national touring exhibition schedule HERE.

Read VoCA’s coverage of the shortlisted artists HERE, HERE and HERE.

23 Responses to “News: Jeremy Hof wins RBC Painting Competition”

  1. Doug says:

    While I find Jeremy Hof’s work interesting, I can’t help but feel that it belongs in a “conceptual art” contest, rather than a “painting” contest. I felt the same way about last years winner, Arabella Campbell.

    I’m curious what your take is on this. Am I wrong to feel that something calling itself a “painting” competition should focus on works that fall into a stricter definition of the term “painting”, or am I being too narrow-minded?

    To be clear, I don’t for a moment believe that traditional paintings are in general a better or worse form of art than conceptual works, but maybe the competition should be re-named to more accurately reflect the work they have chosen to win the past two years.

  2. Bill says:

    I’m disappointed that it didn’t go to a painter who more obviously enjoys painting as a physically expressive and visceral medium rather than a coolly intellectual exercise. This just feels hermetic to me or like something that could have been painted 30 or 40 years ago. But big “messy” painting is simply what I’m attracted to, so I look forward to reading postings that will defend this choice. At least Wil Murray got an honourable mention, but Martin Golland was robbed, I think!

  3. Andrea says:

    I believe that the RBC judges vote for the particular work submitted, not the artist’s larger oeuvre.

    I mention this because 1. I think it’s odd and maybe even problematic since the winning artist enters the public conciousness (insofar as it does) as one of Canada’s best young painters, and 2. because Jeremy Hof’s practice – from what I understand – is multi-faceted conceptual involving sculpture and installation too.

    However, the winning work goes into the RBC’s collection, so maybe that’s why they’ve organized the competition that way.

  4. Andrea says:


    Did you read the Margaret Atwood piece in my last posting? Definitely worth reading!

  5. daniel says:

    Jeremy’s work is completely viable as a “painting” as far as i am concerned. It is flat rectilinear and hung an a wall, not to mention the fact that he utilized paint in the process of making it. Yes, I think peeps on here are being too narrow minded, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t exactly like Hof’s painting either.

    But I simply cant sit back and see someone single Hof’s painting out as something that could have been done 30 40 years ago when that statement could easily apply to all the nominees in the competition, when in fact I believe that statement could apply to all contemporary painting in general.

    When it comes down to it painting has been recycling both style and motivations for the past 50 years now. This is nothing new, there is only so much that can be done with the medium.

    In that regard I think Hof’s work excels, he incorporates his “painting” into a rigorous personal routine and work ethic. The work to look at is a bit underwhelming, yes, but at least there is a more meaningful strategy at work than simply pushing form and color around aimlessly, which to me has be come a somewhat masturbatory act.

  6. jake says:

    have any of the commenters seen the paintings or just these 72 dpi images of them?

  7. max says:

    I second comment # 6. But why is comment # 5 so acidic? Can’t somebody ask a question? To say that painting has been recycling styles and motivations for the past 50 years is a commonplace that is blind and reductive.

  8. Mars says:

    Had to vent!!! Hof painting- if u can call it that— what is it—-any carpenter can latex paint-plaster a panel like that!!!! things like tha t aren’t a challenge-I prefer art that is a masterpiece of work-to look at.Where would u hang such- how longcould u look at it without boredom!!! Sorry

  9. jeremy says:

    if you get a chance please go see the show when it comes to your province. the layer painting red is very difficult to photograph there are a lot of small details that are not visible in this photo.

    the exhibition is a good collection of many different contemporary approaches to painting. so again, please go see if you have a chance and everyone is entitle to their opinion, so thanks for the feedback.

  10. Billy says:

    Again I am disgusted at the outcome of the compition. I agree with Doug. Some of the other semi finalists do more than just paint. I thought this was a “painting Compition.” I understand they are looking for new ways to show and express painting but we should stick with artists who paint and work with paint and not artists who’s work includes much more than painting. Then they would have to call it the RBC art compititon. Too many politics involved. Again, it’s not what you know it’s who you know.

  11. Billy says:

    I can’t believe I don’t know how to spell competition.

  12. Paul says:

    You need to spell competition right next time. But you have a good point.

  13. Paul says:

    They need to change the name to the RBC Art Competition. It’s more conceptual than anything. Some of the other semi finallists are also multi media artists. I would like to know the judges criteria for this one.

  14. Bill says:

    Don’t get me wrong. I can appreciate artists like Agnes Martin, Sol LeWitt and Kenneth Noland, all of whom were brought to mind immediately by Hof’s painting, hence my ’30 or 40 years ago’ comment. (It also made me think of Josef Albers’ Homages to the Square if you want to add ’50 years ago’ to that.) I guess that’s what’s irking me a bit. I looked at Hof’s painting and felt like I “got it” too quickly (though, granted, perhaps I haven’t because I have not seen it in person yet). However, if this award is supposed to recognize the best of new Canadian painting, what was the reason for giving it to a piece that at first glance seems so heavily influenced by Americans who were at their creative peaks way back in the 1960s and 1970s? I guess when I think ‘new painting’, I don’t just think ‘painted recently’. I also think of something that is rooted in the here-and-now either in paint handling (the trend appears to be built-up and gloopy) or subject matter, and several other artists on the shortlist seem more ‘au courant’ (no, not just ‘trendy’) to me. I don’t dislike Hof’s painting, but I also don’t see how it speaks to today or points a way forward at all.

    Granted, none of us seem to be privy to the RBC panel’s reason for their winning choice. (Is anyone?) Perhaps they have several good reasons why Hof’s painting is the best of the best. Why don’t the press releases they issue about the winner give us some details about his/her practice? Even a quote or two from panel members about why they think the winning work is so deserving would be helpful.

    But, without the benefit of this insight, all I can say (as much as it pains me) is that giving the prize to such a painting seems to support Daniel’s comment (# 5) about the state of contemporary painting – that it’s all just recycling. But while all painters have their influences, some references (like Rauschenberg, perhaps?) don’t seem as worn out as others. I also think that past RBC winners Etienne Zack and Dil Hildebrand (and Martin Golland and Wil Murray this year), as well as Kim Dorland, Shelley Adler, Brendan Flanagan and Monica Tap, are challenging themselves (and, by extension, us) and pushing the boundaries of painting pretty successfully right now.

    Hopefully, though, Hof’s painting will have more to say in person because it is true that photographs rarely do justice to minimalist/conceptually based work.

  15. Bill says:

    I agree with the above statements re: the criteria for choosing the winner. Perhaps more transparency from the judging panel would stop all the complaints that “it’s all politics anyway” and spare the winning artists some of our griping about their work! Ha, ha!

    However, wouldn’t making the competition a general art competition just complicate things? In my mind, a sculpture is a completely different thing than a painting, which, again, is totally unlike video. So, I’d think you’d need different criteria to appraise different works (just as the artist needs different skills/mind sets to excute them).

    In a way, that would make it a competition for the title Best Canadian Artist. (They could call it, “So You Think You Can Paint”…or Sculpt or whatever…)

  16. Wil Murray says:

    I gather, from speaking with the judges, that they had no access to the support materials(CV & Answered Questions), or the support images submitted with the image of the piece selected as one of the 15.
    They were instructed to judge the competition from the piece hanging in front of them. While this cannnot preclude prior knowledge of an artist’s practice(and I was told this helped in my selection as a runner-up), I think the judges do try to follow the guidelines laid out by the competition.
    Like any juried competition, it is not objective, more like “contained subjective”. Contained to the subjectivity of the 12 people the RBC selected for the jury. I’m sure any of the jury would be glad to describe the selection process.
    Hof’s piece is significantly different in person, and I can confirm that every piece I saw was the same. I encourage everyone to see the work while it tours…the show is staggering in its breadth and many of these artists will be featured in the competition again, I’m sure.
    For the record, Martin Golland’s piece was my favourite in the exhibition.
    As you might expect, I’m very pleased with the results of the competition….and the competition’s existence. It’s like summer camp for painters, a rare opportunity to get together with 14 other painters and spend a little time outside of each others’ private studios or solo exhibitions.

  17. Andrea says:


    The RBC catalogue says of Hof’s painting:

    “..His structured, labour-intensive process often incorporates a mathematical or algorithmic approach and the use of layering. In layer painting red, optical sensations of effects draw the viewer in, but the detail it possesses can only be understood by close inspection and it is only at close range that the painting reveals its depth…”

  18. Doug says:

    It’s very possible that up close and personal this winning painting will blow me away with it’s deceptive painterly qualities. I’m not being sarcastic either.
    Although, that does lead to another point; in the initial stages of the competition, the judges have only low-resolution digital files to look at (along with the written support material.) That has got to be a frustrating process for everyone involved.

  19. Jennifer says:

    The 10th Annual RBC Painting Competition will be on exhibition at The Power Plant in Toronto November 11 to 23.

  20. grrr…. perhaps I can understand that Jeremy Hof did not know about Vasarely’s painting, or about Joseph Albers [Hommage to the square]. This is plagiarism…and was given a Prize?? But, it is more difficult to understand that the ‘JURORS’ did not know of Vasarely and/or Albers. Shame. alcides

  21. art critic says:

    Personally don’t care for any of these works. Not sure what the judges saw in this. I have seen other works by artists that have shown more skill than this. If they’re looking for controversy in this contest, I guess this is it.

  22. Rob says:

    I just saw the show in Montreal, and I have to admit that in person, Jeremy Hof’s painting blew me away. I think there is more connection to Frank Stella early stripe works than Albers or Vasarely, and his use of drilling through the paint layers is quite creative. This painting is about perception as much as it is about space. Well deservd if you ask me, but I also really enjoyed Patrick Howlett’s “Touchingly Awkward” painting, whose use of egg tempera put the show in histoical perspective and subverted the medium’s tradition.

  23. Dave says:

    I do not really understand the point of this competition, I thought it was about painting. The paintings on display could easily be done by most ten years olds.

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