A Bank’s Painting Prize Gets an Incendiary Response

Marc Adornato's entry to the 2015 RBC Painting Competition Image: Courtesy http://adornato.com/

Marc Adornato is a Canadian artist, a self-described “certified media whore,” and the founder of an art movement that he calls “Protestism.” For his latest stunt, he has picked a juicy target: Canada’s annual Royal Bank of Canada Painting Competition, which just announced its 2014 winner, Vancouver-based Tiziana La Melia, on October 1. Instead of letting the announcement stand as a bit of PR spin for the RBC, Adornato has seized it as an opportunity to return the media’s eye to the Canadian banking juggernaut’s less savory side.

To wit, Adornato has debuted his own “entry” for next year’s painting competition, a whimsical, gold-framed painting of a flaming RBC branch, with a smiling, bowler-hatted gentleman standing before it brandishing a placard that says “PROTEST.” A 78-word “title” for the submission reads as follows:

Arbie, a loyal and hardworking employee and mascot of The Royal Bank of Canada, sets fire to his branch in protest, after learning that his job is being outsourced through iGate, a multinational outsourcing firm from India. To add insult to injury, Arbie was asked by RBC to train his replacement before his job is terminated. RBC said the work is being outsourced for cost savings and efficiency, all the while, making billions of dollars in record profits (2014)

Adornato here refers to the “foreign workers” scandal which engulfed RBC last year, when the bank forced dozens of employees to train their own replacements who had been flown in from India, leading to broad public outcry and calls to boycott RBC.

To get a sense of Adornato’s history of satirical public art actions, check out the clip below:


Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics