Robert Lemay Solo Exhibition: Say it with Flowers 2021

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Robert Lemay

Say it with Flowers

Opening Reception: May 8, 2021

Artist Statement

If I’ve learned anything from this past year, is that flowers matter to people. By the time the pandemic started I had painted a number of large floral pieces. I was interested in an immersive experience. I wanted to paint from the viewpoint of the person leaning into a bouquet of flowers and absorbing the scent and the sensations of the textures, just that glorious experience we’ve all had of breathing in all that beauty and perfume. Maybe someone gave you the bouquet to celebrate a birthday or to commemorate an accomplishment or maybe to console. We had been to Rome for a month in November of 2019 and stayed near the Campo de’Fiori, and often brought home flowers from the famous market there. I wanted to capture some of that feeling, too, just how it feels to bring a bouquet home to enjoy for no reason other than to be in the presence of beauty. It made our apartment feel more like a home immediately, bringing the flowers and setting them on the kitchen table or by the windowsill. I’d been working on paintings from our Rome trip at the beginning of 2020, when we first started hearing murmurings of the pandemic. I had been reminiscing about all I loved about Rome. you can go into any church in Rome and see an anonymous sculpture of an angel, or look at a candelabra, or the marble inlay on the floor and see a refined quality and subtlety of vision and execution. My faith had been

renewed in the objective quality of art as a lasting value, no matter the subject or style. Whatever it was that I was looking at, I leaned in to see it more closely. We visited all of the Caravaggios in Rome...and I looked closely at the surfaces, getting as near as was permissible. There was a still life show at the Corsini Galleria and we went to view it twice. Even after a lifetime of looking at still life, I was so taken by the eternal themes – of transience, and of the passage of time. Painted 400 years ago, these paintings continue to hold the viewers’ attention, drawing us in. I was also, as I always am when I travel to museums, interested in all the Baroque paintings. I’ve always studied this particular period, trying to learn the secrets of it. The dramatic lighting, radical painting style, and the raw emotion of this period never fail to excite me. Coming home from Rome then, I wanted to apply all of those inspiring things that I’d absorbed and thought about while away. I began to delve into the photos I’d taken in Rome along with some that I’d taken the previous year of peonies. I began to delve deeper into the structure and colours of flowers and work at building intense compositions that are both dramatic and freeing, bold and inviting. I want the viewer to feel immersed.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I just painted. I didn’t imagine that anyone would be wanting paintings for some time. This was perhaps just the freedom I needed to paint exactly what I wanted to paint. I painted expansive bouquets of flowers because they consoled, gave hope, and they were a sensory experience that I craved when we couldn’t do much else or go anywhere. They filled our home with hope and beauty in a time of uncertainty and worry. They were a balm and they uplifted when it was easy to despair. I didn’t know that this would also translate so directly to my viewers, but it has. I began to get queries for my work from all over the world. Flowers matter, beauty matters, and flowers help in that they give us pause. The experience of leaning into a bouquet of flowers and smelling can be so grounding and I know that flowers have helped me through this time, and I hope they help others, too. - Robert Lemay


Campo de Fiori # 5, 36” x 36”, oil on canvas



Garden Peonies, 36” x 36”, oil on canvas



Peony Garden, 36” x 36”, oil on canvas



Bouquet, 40” x 60”, oil on canvas


“In my paintings, through brushstro achieve a poetic realism, heading to people painting floral paintings an as an artist add to that? When you s you immediately see my handwrit a painting will be measured perha and hope i

okes rather than notes, I’m trying to oward a felt truth . There are a lot of nd there always will be . What can I see one of my floral paintings I hope ting, so to speak . The uniqueness of aps by the balance between the hurt it conveys.”


Peony Study 1, 16” x 16”, oil on canvas


Peony Study 2, 16” x 16”, oil on canvas


Garden Roses, 36” x 48”, oil on canvas



Campo de Fiori, 40” x 60”, oil on canvas



Campo de Fiori 2, 40” x 60”, oil on canvas


Magenta Peony, 40” x 60”, oil on canvas


Study for Garden Roses, 30” x 30”, oil on canvas


Ruffled Roses, 30” x 30”, oil on canvas


Ranunculus, 36” x 36”, oil on canvas



“In Rome , you feel that art is all around you, and to have the opportunity to immerse oneself in it like we did was very satisfying, sustaining, and inspiring.”



Rose Cascade, 48” x 36”, oil on canvas



Victoria Dream, 30” x 30”, oil on canvas



White and Magenta Peonies, 40” x 60”, oil on canvas


Winter Roses, 40” x 60”, oil on canvas (detail)


Garden Roses (2), 24” x 24”, oil on canvas






2018 Big Screen TV, The Front Gallery, Edmonton 2016 Iconic Women, Shayne Gallery, Montreal 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, Calgary 2008 Calm Things, Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton. 2007 Shayne Gallery, Montreal 2006 Wallace Galleries, Calgary 2005 Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton 2004 Shayne Gallery, Montreal 2003 Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton 2002 Shayne Gallery, Montreal Wallace Galleries, Calgary 2001 Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton

2000 Wallace Galleries, Calgary 1998 Hollander York Gallery, Toronto Douglas Udell Gallery, Vancouver 1997 Wallace Galleries, Calgary 1996 Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton 1995 Hollander York Gallery, Toronto Wallace Galleries, Calgary 1994 Douglas Udell Gallery, Vancouver Wallace Galleries, Calgary Hollander York Gallery, Toronto 1993 Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton 1992 Woltjen/Udell, Edmonton 1991 Wallace Galleries, Calgary 1989 Woltjen/Udell, Edmonton 1988 Woltjen/Udell, Vancouver 1987 Woltjen/Udell, Edmonton


C.V. (select), continued PUBLICATIONS:


2020 2016 2016 2014 2010 2010 2009 2008 2006 2005 2005 2003 2001 1999 1996 1993 1992 1989

Modern Luxuria, “Carpe Flores,” by Joe Gurba, October. Fashion Magazine, “Picture Perfect: Robert Lemay’s Artistic Take on Magazines.” May 2016. Where Calgary Magazine, “Grid.” May/June. Avant Magazine, Interview. Volume V, Issue 2. Canadian Interviews. “The Moment of Astonishment: Interview with Robert Lemay.” Ryan, Janice. “Oil Paintings Animate Common Objects,” Edmonton Journal. Notebook Magazine. V.3, Issue 8. “Shawna & Robert Lemay: Calm Things. Bouchard, Gilbert. “Lemay Reinterprets Iconic Art in his Neutral Realist Style,” Edmonton Journal. Bouchard, Gilbert. “Alberta: What is Visible,” Galleries West Magazine. Bouchard, Gilbert. “Lemay Breathes New Life into Form,” Edmonton Journal. Lemay, Shawna. “Precarious”, Artichoke. Summer. Kellog, Alan. “Catching Up With the Beautiful People,” Edmonton Journal. Bouchard, Gilbert. “Real Life Frozen in Still-Life Mastery,” Edmonton Journal. Gustafson, Paula. “Robert Lemay at Douglas Udell Gallery,” Asian Art News. Mandel, Charles. “Still Life Showing so Conventional it’s Unconventional,” Edmonton Journal. “Time is Frozen in a Painter’s Still Life Studies”, Edmonton Journal. “Artist Follows Cezanne’s Example”, Edmonton Journal. Beauchamp, Elizabeth. “Summer Candid Pictures Can Lift Winter Mood”, Edmonton Journal.

LECTURES, RESIDENCIES, and HONOURS: 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 AWARDS: 2007 1996 1990 1989


Alberta Foundation for the Arts Projects Grant Alberta Foundation for the Arts Projects Grant Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant

COLLECTIONS: Alberta Art Foundation Alberta Energy Alberta Treasury Branch Bennet, Jones Verchere Canada Council Art Bank Canadian Embassy: Beijing, China

Canberra, Australia Chevron Oil Cliff Lede Wineries, Yountville, California Edmonton City Hall Foreign Affairs Graceland University (Lamoni, Iowa) Interprovincial Pipeline

Lethbridge Regional Hospital Norcen Resources PanOceanic Shaw Communications Suncor Energy Westin Hotel


Wallace Galleries is one of Calgary’s most dynamic art galleries and home to many outstanding contemporary Canadian artists. Established in 1986 and located in the downtown core, our gallery is a family-run business with the goal of making art a part of your life as much as it is a part of ours.

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