painting prize winnerA University of Guelph graduate has won a prestigious national painting prize.

Tiziana La Melia was named the winner of the 16th annual RBC Canadian Painting Competition last night at a gala at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The $25,000 prize celebrates promising new Canadian visual artists.

A Vancouver artist and writer, La Melia graduated from U of G’s master of fine art program in 2013.

Her winning piece was an oil on board titled Hanging on to the Part.

The nine prize jurors, including gallerists, artists and curators, said they were impressed by the way La Melia combined “abstraction and figuration to portray both mythological female archetypes and personal narratives.”

In a news release, the jury said La Melia’s work “offers a platform to consider theatre, poetry and popular culture as well, giving her painting a unique edge over the other finalists.”

Her painting will now join the RBC Corporate Art Collection, which currently numbers more than 4,000 artifacts.

La Melia prevailed over 14 other Canadian finalists to take the honour. Finalists were selected in regional competitions from more than 600 Canadian entries. Each artist submitted a single painting.

One-third of the finalists were U of G alumni, including Ashleigh Bartlett, Jennifer Carvalho, Wallis Cheung and James Gardner.

“This is an outstanding example of the quality of both students and faculty in the studio art program in particular and of the creative arts in general at U of G,” said Donald Bruce, dean of the College of Arts.

“What other program in studio art in Canada has had similar results? This result underscores the fact that this program is at the very top in Canada.”

Last year, two SOFAM artists, including one current student, were nominated for the prize.