Light is the focus of all my work. I like the simple beauty of everyday objects. They evoke whole worlds and universes when placed upon a table. The flowers and fruits of still life recur over and over through the history of art because they are life affirming objects of contemplation. I’m interested in how we look at a thing, an apple, a swatch of fabric, drapery, or the light on a table, now, as compared to, say, how Cezanne painted an apple, or how Dali painted bread, or how Manet painted lilacs, or how Cotan painted a melon. My paintings seek to intensely look, to delve into an understanding of the nature of seeing, and to record a few of the infinite combinations possible on a table, well lit.
In my series, "Grid," I paint square by square, row by row. The painting may appear digitized but is meticulously hand painted. I've always used the grid to scale up my photos but leaving traces of the process creates a tension between the image and the squares of tone and colour which are reassembled by the eye.
My series, “Mythology,” is a development of my book still lifes. As with my flower paintings, I reduce and simplify in order to focus on a single image. I’m looking at magazine covers as a contemporary subject, trying to unite the tradition of Holbein and Rembrandt with an exploration of the fashion and celebrity culture of today. The subjects in my paintings are not unlike the people John Singer Sargent would have been painting a hundred years ago.
I consider these portraits to be still lifes because they depict the magazine covers stripped of text, leaving only the title or barcode to indicate their source. I’m making a painting of a photograph rather than a conventional portrait. Gerhard Richter said he was trying to make a painting as exciting as a photograph and I’m extending this idea with the found subject of the fashion magazine.
2016 Grid, Wallace Galleries, Calgary
2015 Robert Lemay: 30 Years, Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton
2013 Flower, Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton
2011 Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton
2010 "In a Narrow Space," Shayne Gallery, Montreal
2009 Wallace Galleries Ltd, Calgary
2008 Calm Things, Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton
2007 Wallace Galleries Ltd, Calgary
2005 Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton
2004 Shayne Gallery, Montreal
2003 Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton
2002 Shayne Gallery, Montreal
2002 Wallace Galleries Ltd, Calgary
2001 Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton
2000 Wallace Galleries, Calgary
1998 Hollander York Gallery, Toronto
1998 Douglas Udell Gallery, Vancouver
1997 Wallace Galleries, Calgary
1996 Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton
1995 Hollander York Gallery, Toronto
1995 Wallace Galleries Ltd, Calgary
1994 Douglas Udell Gallery, Vancouver
1994 Wallace Galleries Ltd, Calgary
1994 Hollander York Gallery, Toronto
1993 Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton
1992 Woltjen/Udell, Edmonton
1991 Wallace Galleries Ltd, Calgary
1989 Woltjen/Udell, Edmonton
1988 Woltjen/Udell, Vancouver
1987 Woltjen/Udell, Edmonton
2011 "For the Love of Art" Wallace Galleries, Calgary, Alberta
1999 Denise Bibro Fine Arts, New York City
New Talent Invitational
1999 Prairie Regional Art Gallery, Grande Prairie, Alberta
Six Degrees of Separation
1998 Public Art Gallery, Calgary.,Multiple Realities
1997 McMullen Art Gallery, EdmontonStill Life
2010 Canadian Interviews. “The Moment of Astonishment: Interview with Robert Lemay.” canadianinterviews.com.
2010 Ryan, Janice. “Oil Paintings Animate Common Objects,” Edmonton Journal, Friday, June 17, 2011.
2009 Notebook Magazine. V.3, Issue 8. “Shawna & Robert Lemay: Calm Things.”
2008 Bouchard, Gilbert. “Lemay Reinterprets Iconic Art in his Neutral Realist Style,” Edmonton Journal, Friday, April 11, 2008.
2006 Bouchard, Gilbert. “Alberta: What is Visible,” Galleries West Magazine.
2005 Bouchard, Gilbert. “Lemay Breathes New Life into Form”, Edmonton Journal. Oct 7, G8.
2005 Lemay, Shawna. “Precarious”, Artichoke. Summer, 2005, pp. 38-45.
2003 Kellog, Alan. “Catching Up With the Beautiful People”, Edmonton Journal.
2001 Bouchard, Gilbert. “Real Life Frozen in Still-Life Mastery”, Edmonton Journal. May 4, E14
1999 Gustafson, Paula. “Robert Lemay at Douglas Udell Gallery,” Asian Art News, March/April 1999
1998 Image reproduced. Alberta Views, Spring Vol. 1, No.2, pp. 15.
1996 Mandel, Charles. “Still-Life Showing so Conventional it’s Uncongenial”, Edmonton Journal. January 25, C5.
1993 “Time is Frozen in a Painter’s Still Life Studies”, Edmonton Journal. December.
1992 “Artist Follows Cezanne’s Example”, Edmonton Journal.
1989 Beauchamp, Elizabeth. “Summer Candid Pictures Can Lift Winter Mood”,Edmonton Journal. December 2, D4.
Alberta Art Foundation
Alberta Treasury Branch
Bennet, Jones, Verchere
Canada Council Art Bank
Canadian Embassy: Beijing, China; Canberra, Australia
Edmonton City Hall
Lethbridge Regional Hospital
2007 Alberta Foundation for the Arts Projects Grant
1996 Alberta Foundation for the Arts Projects Grant
1990 Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant
1989 Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant
2015 Shaw Communications has named a room in Shaw Court, Calgary, Alberta, The Robert Lemay Room
2014 Inaugural Artist in Residence, Graceland University, Iowa, November 2014
2007 Alberta Society of Artists, September 13, 2007