Robert Lemay

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Robert Lemay graduated from the University of Alberta with a BFA in 1984. He began exhibiting in galleries the following year, in 1985. He has had over 20 solo shows in cities across Canada, including Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal. He also shows his work in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Lemay has travelled extensively, studying the art in museums in Europe and the United States.


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.”
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 Energy
Alberta Treasury Branch
Bennet, Jones, Verchere
Canada Council Art Bank
Canadian Embassy: Beijing, China; Canberra, Australia
Chevron Oil
Delta Hotels
Edmonton City Hall
Foreign Affairs
Interprovincial Pipeline
Lethbridge Regional Hospital
Norcen Resources
Ocelot Energy
Shaw Communications
Suncor Energy
Westin Hotels


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


Robert Lemay

Born: 1961, Calgary, Alberta
Price range: $2100-$7600