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Painting's often been put down as a viable medium for the contemporary art-maker, but it's never been entirely out of the artistic picture – a fact celebrated since 1999 by the annual RBC Canadian Painting Competition. This weekend competition organizers announced the 15 finalists for its 16th edition. The winner, who receives $25,000, and two runners-up are to be named Oct. 1 at a gala at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

As its title explicates, the prize doesn't honour veteran or established painters, but rather Canadian artists "in the early stages of their careers." Unsurprisingly then, the finalists and winners have almost always been in their late 20s to mid-30s.

Last year, to mark its 15th anniversary, RBC awarded a total of $115,000, its biggest purse ever. Besides the usual $25,000 to the winner and $15,000 to each runner-up, each of the remaining finalists were given $5,000. This year's total is $55,000, divided among the winner and the two runners-up. Works by all finalists will be displayed at the MMFA in an exhibition running Sept. 9 through Oct. 8.

As ever, the 15 finalists, culled from hundreds of entries, were chosen by jury and allotted by region: five from Western Canada, five from Central Canada, five from Eastern Canada.

Western Canada

Ballet Duo, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 72 in. x 68 in.

Ashleigh Bartlett, Calgary

Market, oil and acrylic on canvas, 68 x 54

Ufuk Gueray, Winnipeg

Hanging onto the part, Oil on Panel, 42 x 28

Tiziana La Meila, Vancouver

Bog Breath, oil and bogwater on canvas, 38 x 38

Laura Piasta, Vancouver

Untitled Work from Always Somewhere Else, Canvas, Latex Paint, Wood, Clear Vinyl, 36 x 60

Robert Taite, Winnipeg

Central Canada

Landscape pink, oil on canvas, 22 x 28

Jennifer Carvalho, Toronto

Cut Corners, oil on panel, 28 x 23

Wallis Cheung, Toronto

Fixed Rock, Oil on Board, 35 x 24

James Gardner, Toronto

Before the Fire 2014 Version, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 26 x 37

Gavin Lynch, Ottawa

WADING, Oil on Canvas, 24 x 18

Megan McCabe, Toronto

Eastern Canada

Hurricane, mixed media on canvas drywall compound, gesso, ink and graphite, 36 x 24

Carly Butler, Halifax

7 of 6, Acrylic, Spray paint, Latex on wood panel, 48 x 36

Teto Elsiddique, Halifax

Cyclone, Acrylique sur toile, 64 x 51

Karine Fréchette, Montreal

fragment 14.23 The book of Empathy, gesso et laque acrylique sur toile marouflee sur MDF, 24 x 16

Nicolas Lachance, Montreal

Salut bonhomme, salut bonhomme, Acrylique sur toile, 60 x 40

Elysanne Tremblay, Montreal

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